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BSFC open letter to distributors

To any distributor it may concern,
 
It is clear to the members of the Boston Society of Film Critics (and other reviewers of our acquaintance) that an increasing number of independent film distributors are foregoing theatrical press screenings and DVD screeners for streaming files. To a working movie critic, this is problematic for several reasons:
 
 
1. While it is possible to hook one's computer to a television screen, many  critics lack the equipment or experience to do so and are thereby forced to watch the movie on their computers. Reviewers strive where possible to see a film in a theatrical setting and many have the largest home screens they can afford for that reason. The experience of watching a film on any computer monitor does not begin to approximate the experience of watching a film on a large screen -- let alone in a movie theater -- and thereby does the film under review a serious disservice. The BSFC reiterates its members' preference for theatrical screenings first, with DVD screeners as a distant second, and ask distributors to seriously consider whether their films are done any favors in the streaming format.
 
 
2. For a number of reasons -- bandwidth issues, piracy concerns, and a lack of technical standards -- the quality of streaming video made available by distributors is extremely inconsistent. Some films are made available in high-definition video, while others are exhibited via blurry, low-resolution transfers, overlaid with distracting watermarks. While BSFC members don't favor streaming links as a rule in screening films, we understand that in some cases they are an unavoidable necessity, and we ask distributors to at least aim to provide the highest quality sound and video they can. Again, the issue is whether the films themselves are seen in the best possible presentation. Too often, streaming links present them in their worst.
 
 
Sincerely,
 
 
The Boston Society of Film Critics