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"The goal is that cinemas can initiate a much-needed community conversation at a time when the existence of facts, and basic human rights are under attack." (Image: Virgin.com)

In Trump's Dystopia, Movie Theaters Nationwide Screening "1984"

"Orwell's portrait of a government that manufactures their own facts, demands total obedience, and demonizes foreign enemies, has never been timelier"

Deirdre Fulton

Against the backdrop of an increasingly right-wing Donald Trump presidency, movie theaters around the world will screen 1984 on Tuesday, April 4, marking the date George Orwell's protagonist, Winston Smith, begins keeping a secret diary in his first act of rebellion against a totalitarian state. 

Roughly 180 theaters nationwide are taking part in the evening of cultural resistance, plus a handful in Canada, the U.K., Sweden, New Zealand, and Croatia. Find a complete listing here.

A statement from participating venues, published earlier this year, reads in part:

Orwell's novel begins with the sentence, "It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen." Less than one month into the new presidential administration, theater owners collectively believe the clock is already striking thirteen. Orwell's portrait of a government that manufactures their own facts, demands total obedience, and demonizes foreign enemies, has never been timelier. The endeavor encourages theaters to take a stand for our most basic values: freedom of speech, respect for our fellow human beings, and the simple truth that there are no such things as 'alternative facts.' By doing what they do best—showing a movie—the goal is that cinemas can initiate a much-needed community conversation at a time when the existence of facts, and basic human rights are under attack. Through nationwide participation and strength in numbers, these screenings are intended to galvanize people at the crossroads of cinema and community, and bring us together to foster communication and resistance against current efforts to undermine the most basic tenets of our society.

Dylan Skolnick, co-director of the Cinema Arts Centre on Long Island, New York, who came up with the idea along with Adam Birnbaum, director of film programming at the Avon Theatre Film Centre in Connecticut, told Al Jazeera that the Trump administration's "undermining of the concept of facts and the demonization of foreign enemies...really resonate in 1984."

"There's a central line from the book about the freedom to say that two plus two equals four, even when the government is telling you that two plus two equals five," he said.

"No one is suggesting that we're living in Orwell's world," Skolnick said. "But the road to that world is people just becoming disengaged and allowing their government to do whatever it wants."

To that end, he added, the screening day is "designed to get people to be talking and discussing and active in the political conversation that is happening in America right now—and throughout the world, it turns out."

Theaters that charge admission will be donating a portion of the proceeds to local charities and organizations, "or using the proceeds for the purposes of underwriting future educational and community-related programming," according to a statement.

In addition to its war on science and rampant conflicts of interest, the Trump administration has threatened to decimate funding for cultural institutions including the National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 


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