As the Walker’s social media manager (and a longtime internet obsessive) I live my life online, and it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that the small screen is my everything. In my off hours I usually juggle a phone and tablet while streaming Netflix or Hulu on my TV. This habit of layering my media consumption is exhilarating and exhausting, and yes, I frequently miss key plot points because I was distracted by a conversation someone sparked on Twitter. For instance, last night I cued up the latest episode of a TV show and realized I had no idea how a main character ended up in the hospital.
When news started spreading about a new way to access the Walker’s Ruben/Bentson Moving Image Collection, it sounded like something a device-addicted content consumer like me could get really excited about. With a touch screen remote, a large (but manageable) selection of films and videos, and comfy seats, the Mediatheque might be enough to get me to put down my phone and eschew the small screen for the big screen.
As a Walker staffer I was able to get a sneak preview, but starting today anyone has access the Mediatheque. You don’t even need to pay admission. Just walk right in, choose a film, find a seat, and imagine you’re in a private screening room as the opening credits start to roll.
My preview session started with a quick introduction, but the menus are simple enough that anyone familiar with Netflix or YouTube will quickly learn to navigate from playlists to search screens to the queue. Curated playlists with topics like “Icons and Iconography” and “Dreamscapes” are one option—touch a few buttons and a selection of films will be added to the queue and seamlessly play.
I chose “Cinemas of Resistance” and the theater screen transitioned from a preview trailer as the first film began playing.
I was torn between taking my seat and standing near the wall-mounted iPad to read the descriptions of each film. They take Netflix and IMDB summaries to the next level: like wall labels for cinema, you get a taste of history, context, and plot, plus a preview clip.
Some films are as short as a few minutes, others are feature length. Since I hadn’t allowed enough time for a marathon, I quickly cleared my queue and selected a Buster Keaton short. Alone in the dark theater, I put my phone away and settled in for six minute break from small screens.