Volume 13, Issue 8 / August 2009

Severin Films

In this issue

I’ll go on record saying that the current times are the best yet for the cinephile, contrary to much recent rattle and hum about the death of cinephilia. Why, because today’s cinephile has the choice of watching a greater variety of films in the greatest variety of ways (commercial theatre, festival screenings, DVD, High Definition (Blu-Ray), HD cable television, large size, HD, widescreen television monitors, home video projectors, home computers, etc.). To backtrack a bit, I am old enough to remember the time when the only way I could catch a movie was to see it on a big screen. Yes it was the way that film was meant to be seen, in its original format (celluloid), on a big screen (usually, though that changed with the era of multiplexes), with an audience. However, if I missed the film at the theatre, or wanted to see the film again, I had to wait until it resurfaced on television, in a bastardized format, or a few years later at a repertory theatre. The onset of VHS that sparked the home video revolution in the 1980s was a major boon for the cinephile, although it took a long time before that medium caught up with the exacting demands of the cinephile (letterbox format, director’s cut, special features, etc.). By the time it did, there was a major upgrade in quality in the next transitional media, from VHS to DVD, which was so striking that it led to an unforeseen bonanza in home video sales, to the point where movie companies routinely made more profits from their DVD sales than theatrical box-office sales. The ripple effect of this was that studios began to release anything in their back catalogue with market value; esoteric, obscure, cult, and foreign films that were hard if not impossible to see in the pre-1980s period were now being directly targeted on DVD to their niche audiences (even if small) with the loving care and star treatment usually reserved for upscale, big budget commercial cinema. And because of this demand and revolutionized market, many new independent companies entered the DVD distribution business, taking chances on even rarer, long forgotten films. With the (slow) shift to high definition and Blu-Ray, quality (though not necessarily selection) has once again been tweaked (although not as dramatically as the move from VHS to DVD, at least not for the average consumer). All region DVD (and now Blu-Ray) players and the ‘limitless’ nature of internet shopping has made it possible for the discerning, resourceful cinephile to purchase practically any film released on DVD/HD globally. The possibilities for the resourceful film viewer is mind boggling. Today’s cinephile can still watch a film at the theatre, but has the added option of watching a nearly limitless choice of films, many of which would have never played in a theatre close to home, or any theatre at all, and in a (usually) superb digital (and now high definition) format. Throughout these changes a number of DVD companies have stood out for their devotional attention to transfer quality, original source integrity, and discerning support material (commentaries, production history, documentaries, interviews, scholarly texts, etc.). Since its inception Offscreen has featured a handful of such DVD companies, focusing on lesser known labels that have targeted specialized niche markets, like Index (Austrian avant-garde and experimental cinema), Woman Make Movies, Legend Films, NFB, and First Run Features (in some cases, being non-profit organizations). For this issue Offscreen adds to this list of uncompromising DVD labels, a relatively new company (granted with more commercial designs than those previously featured) which has distinguished itself with some lovingly produced DVDs and Blu-Rays, Severin Films. This special issue on Severin Films starts off with an interview with one of its co-founders/owners, David Gregory. To further whet your appetite for the rest of the issue (and Severin Films), there is an addendum to the interview consisting of capsule reviews of five Severin Films DVDs or Blu-Rays, The Sinful Dwarf, Inglorious Bastards, In The Folds of the Flesh, Bloody Moon, and Last House on the Beach. The bulk of the Severin Films special issue follows with essays on four films that they have recently released on DVD, The Sister of Ursula, Perversion Story, Screwballs, and Porn-O-Rama. (Donato Totaro, ed.)

← Previous Issue

Next Issue →

Recent Issues

More →