Fight to Keep This Cinema Open

I'm not talking about some nice rep house that should be preserved from the clutches of a marauding theater chain here in the United States of Greed. God knows there used to be plenty of cases like that (not anymore, though -- there aren't enough rep houses left to bother).

This is a lot more serious. The cinema in question is in Vilnius, Lithuania, and it is a lightining rod for political opposition groups, an example of the ever-increasing commericialization and privatization of the commons, of public space that should belong to an entire community and not just to a handful of profit-seekers.

Neil Harrison made the case nicely in an article in the Baltic Times:

How do you measure, in a non-monetary sense, the value of a cinema to the community it serves?

How would you quantify its contribution toward the well-being and social development of a community and its positive knock-off effects to the economy? Such questions have always been fiendishly difficult to answer, but if there was ever a pressing need to do so, it is now.

By the end of the summer, if property developers get their way, the iconic Lietuva cinema will disappear from the Vilnius landscape altogether. In a city that has already lost 15 cinemas in recent years, the theater’s demolition will effectively signal the end of independent film screening in Vilnius. Not only does this mean that the viewing choices of thousands of filmgoers will be severely limited, but valuable cultural and economic benefits will also be lost to the so-called European Capital of Culture 2009.

(For the rest of this article, published June 8, 2005, go here.)

Now what, you may ask, can I do about a cinema in Lithuania? You can go here, and sign a petition supporting the people of Vilnius in their efforts to keep this public space out of the hands of the globalizers.

What you can't do, from hereon, is say you didn't know that globalization was having such a negative effect on public discourse.





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