We live in a strange time of doublespeak, irrational fear, and the dissemination of untruths. When phrases like “alternative facts” have entered the lexicon, George Orwell’s classic 1984 feels unnervingly prescient. That’s why a group of independent theaters throughout the US (and one in Toronto, Canada) have banded together to protest Donald Trump’s administration by holding a National Screening Day for Michael Radford’s adaptation of Orwell’s dystopian masterpiece.
91 theaters across the country will screen 1984 on April 4th, the date on which the film’s protagonist begins his rebellion against Big Brother by writing a diary. The protest will specifically target Trump’s plan to cut the National Endowment for the Arts from the 2018 federal budget, an act the theater owners call “an attack on free speech and creative expression through entertainment.” A portion of the proceeds will go to local charities and organizations, while some theaters will set aside profits to support future educational and community programming.
1984 stars the late John Hurt as Winston Smith, a worker in the Ministry of Truth whose job it is to rewrite history. In an effort to escape the tyrannical control of the ruling Party, he commits thoughtcrime by writing a diary and falling in love with a fellow Outer Party worker (Suzanna Hamilton).
“Orwell’s novel begins with the sentence, ‘It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen,'” quote the theater owners in a statement of intent. “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.'”
Find a complete list of participating theaters here. Watch a trailer for 1984 below.