Supporting Indie Cinema: 3 Films To Watch at Spazju Kreattiv This Weekend
The rise of digital streaming services, along with the pandemic, hit the movie theatre industry hard and saw a decline in attendance. That is until ‘Barbie’, along with its lower-grossing counterpart Oppenheimer, had people flock to the cinemas this summer. The third film in Greta Gerwig’s directorial portfolio was a smash success, having earned $1.38 billion in the global box office as of September 4th which solidified it as the biggest global earning Warner Bros movie to date. This can be attributed in part to the marketing strategy; with a budget of $145 million, the film partnered with over a hundred brands, sold $300 Barbie roller skates, and even constructed a real life Barbie dream house in Malibu to promote the film.
While many praised this abundant approach, others consider it a pinnacle of American commercialism. What’s more, some have argued that Barbie offers a multi-corporation (Mattel)’s watered down take on women’s struggles repackaged as feminist cinema and painted pink. Fans of Gerwig’s previous films, most famously ‘Little Women’ and ‘Ladybird’, expressed disappointment towards the director’s seemingly imminent transition from indie darling to “big studio director”, as her agent claimed she’s aspiring to. While it is great to see more female directors working on big projects, it “makes money for the big guy, in opposition to fostering an industry where smaller films and creators have more opportunities,” as Caspar Salmon of The Guardian puts it.
The main difference between indie (independent) films and blockbusters is the budget. However, unlike blockbusters which just barely scratch the surface, indie films handle certain themes/topics with care and detail. They emanate a sense of authenticity and artistic integrity, the kind that should be preserved. The easiest way to support indie cinema is by simply watching. Yes, it’s true that blockbusters are just more accessible locally – it also doesn’t help that the big promotional budgets make them hard to avoid. Fortunately, Spazju Kreattiv offers an alternative to watching yet another Marvel movie made for mass-consumption. Located at St James Cavalier in Valletta, the Spazju Kreattiv cinema is the only arthouse cinema in the country. They regularly curate international/European films for Maltese people to enjoy. With that being said, here are three indie films you can watch at Spazju Kreattiv this weekend.
Christian Petzold’s ‘Afire’ is a German film which won Silver Bear grand jury prize at this year’s Berlin film festival. The story centres on a young writer named Leon who vacations at his friend Felix’s holiday house by the Baltic Sea. Leon watches Felix and the other characters with quiet judgement and refuses to take part in the fun as a self-imposed punishment for writing a weak second book following the success of his first. Meanwhile, fires are burning the dry forest around them. You can go see ‘Afire’ on Saturday at 6pm or Sunday at 8:30pm.
Next, Clement Virgo’s ‘Brother’ tells the story of Francis and Michael, two Jamaican-Canadian brothers with contrasting personalities and life goals causing them to drift apart. Based on David Chariandy’s novel of the same name, ‘Brother’ premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year. The film is reminiscent of Oscar-winner ‘Moonlight’; Not only due to its themes of masculinity and memory, but also the three sequential timelines through which the plot unfolds. Catch Brother on Saturday at 8:30pm.
Lastly, Ira Sachs takes a unique approach to the love triangle with ‘Passages’; Tomas and Martin have been together for several years, that is until Tomas upends their relationship by entering an affair with a younger woman named Agathe. Having premiered at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, this film explores the concepts of sexual fluidity, selfishness and identity conflict. Given the nature of its subject matter, ‘Passages’ contains nudity and is ofcourse R-rated. So do be warned – this is definitely not one for the whole family. The film will be screened on Sunday at 6pm.
Ultimately, there is nothing wrong with enjoying a good blockbuster movie. Frankly, I loved Barbie and the community it fostered, but it is still important to support films produced outside of major Hollywood studios. If none of these listed films suit your fancy, you can always look out for any upcoming screenings. You can have a look at them and get your tickets here! ‘