Sylvielin's Blog

The Disappearance of Film - Interview with Philippe-Alain Michaud

Posted in Uncategorized by sylvielin on February 23, 2013

(Philippe-Alain Michaud is Curator of the Department of Film at the National Museum of Modern Art -Centre Georges-Pompidou)

‘Personally, I would think that in ten years, all will be shifted into digital but film archive professionals consider that, from now on, the procedures accelerated and that we must envision the transition in a very short term.’

―― Philippe-Alain Michaud (quoted from this interview)

Exhibition view of ‘Movement of Images : Cinema, Art’ exhibition curated by Philippe-Alain Michaud for the Pompidou Center, 2006. The exhibition represents an example of transforming traditional film works into digital formats to create new experience of film-viewing : no longer fixed on the seats of the movie theater, the viewers become flâneurs/strollers in the galleries. Photo – Sylvie Lin

〔Extract from the original text〕

Q.  People talk about the disappearance of film(1) which would take place in three years. Can you explain the phenomenon and how we envision the future of film ?

A.  Tacita Dean, internationally renowned artist who makes films exclusively with 16 mm, has published a letter on the internet that warns of the disappearance of the last laboratories in England that still make film prints. For her next exhibition in the Tate Modern in London(2), instead of publishing a catalogue, the artist asked curators, critics and artists who use film to send a text or a statement about the disappearance of film.

Laboratories in the world close one after another. Fewer and fewer laboratories develop films, especially in the formats for amateurs or those which are known as such (Super-8, 16 mm). Besides, it becomes impossible to find film for shooting and the choice becomes more and more restrained. The Super-8 has been the first to disappear ; now the 16 mm is in the course of extinction whereas the 35 mm is menaced in turn.

As for commercial movie theaters, in Paris for example, they have stopped distributing films of 35 mm and shifted to digital films : today, we no longer see film being projected except in the independent film theaters (salles d’art et d’essai)(3), the museums and the film archives. In a couple of years, films will even be distributed from servers : we no longer need projector operator. Besides, there is no longer any reason for movie theaters to continue to exist : they will forever be replaced by home theaters.


1. Unless specified, the term ‘film’ in the text means strictly the film footage as it is differentiated from mediums such as video or digital formats.

2. The exhibition is entitled The Unilever Series: Tacita Dean, from 11th October 2011 to the 11th March 2012.

3. ‘Salle/cinéma Art et Essai’ is a kind of movie theater in France which corresponds to specific criteria in order to promote independent cinema ; it receives subvention from the government.


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