Roger Durling presents ‘Cinema in Flux’, a collection of film reviews – The Channels

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Kapono Lisama

Roger Durling relaxes on the couch where he does most of his work for the Santa Barbara International Film Festival September 23 at the festival offices in Santa Barbara, California. Durling is the festival’s executive director.

Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) Executive Director and City College Instructor Roger Durling is using his creativity to entertain others during the COVID-19 pandemic by releasing a book of film reviews.

What started as daily emails and newsletters is now organized into a coffee table book, “Cinema in Flux”.

“I started writing emails when we were sent home on March 18, [2020]. I thought people were going to be spending a lot of time at home, and I thought they might need advice on what movies to watch,” Durling said.

Durling explained what prompted him to start sending out movie recommendations.

“The first email I sent I was told we were only going to be sent home for two weeks…. I had no idea I would be writing these emails for over a year “, did he declare.

Two years ago, Durling worked with Alfonso Cuaron, director of “Rome” (2018), making a photobook for Cuarón’s film.

The company that published Cuarón contacted Durling, asking if he had thought of compiling the reviews and film suggestions he sent in and creating a book.

“I said people had suggested it, but I had no idea what it would look like or how to go about it…I didn’t want it to be just a movie guide. I would like it to be more visual, kind of like a celebration of what we went through last year,” Durling said.

“Cinema in Flux” was independently published by Roger Durling and SBIFF with assistance from Print-New York. The book contains a timeline of current events that have transpired over the past year, as well as movie titles he believed to be related to all that was happening in the world.

“The teacher in me thought it was important to have movies that needed to be seen, and my choices were affected by current events,” Durling said. “If you look at the June and July section in the book, I spent about a month suggesting films that deal with African American history.”

Durling used his eye for film to help readers better understand current events by connecting them to certain films.

“I thought it was important to use the timeline so you see the movie recommendation and how it fits into the bigger context of it all,” he said. “I wanted the book to help people navigate through the uncertainty we were living in.”

In the book’s timeline, Durling suggests films related to the deaths of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and actor Chadwick Boseman, connecting the films to current events while drawing attention to their legacies.

Of the 300 entries included in the book, Durling was only able to choose 124 films to write about in detail. He decided to include female directors, African American voices and classics in this selection.

“It was about inclusivity and representation. It was done very systematically to make sure there was enough room for everyone around the table,” he said.

Besides helping with the “Roma” photo book, Durling had no previous experience of publishing a book of his own. He is interested in writing a cinema-related manual and would like to write another book after his experience with “Cinema in Flux”.

Although Durling is a big movie buff, he has no interest in directing one.

“My whole purpose in life is to celebrate films, to introduce people to cinema…that’s why I teach, to make people aware of the impact of the arts,” he said. “Cinema is my passion.”

When asked what he was looking for in a movie, Durling explained that he just wanted to be engaged. “I like to see other perspectives and I like to see common ground.”

A few of his favorite photos reviewed in the book include “Roman Holiday” (1953),Punch drunken love” (2002), and “Moonlight” (2016).

“Cinema in Flux” will be available in bookstores in October and is available for pre-order via the SBIFF website.

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