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Why Release The Lovers for Free?

Exploring the contradictions between art and capital through the release of my first feature film The Lovers

Cinema, as with all art, comes at the intersection of two contradictory points: cinema should be free, and cinema requires capital and labor to produce. It helps for a moment to think that this contradiction could be solved by an advanced communist society where art is supported by and free to all like education, healthcare, housing, food, etc. In this place, it is seen as part of many life-sustaining forces of the body, mind, and spirit. That is, however, utopia. And while it’s important to bask in its dreams, we live under capitalism where art is commodified. Like all commodities, it represents the contradiction stated above except that, unlike food or clothes, it does not have a recognizable, tangible value. 

To explore this contradiction as a way to sustain the production of radical art cinema as well as to act as a tool for political education, we are releasing The Lovers for free on YouTube. We’ve made this decision for multiple reasons but not before exploring other avenues whether through thought or attempt. These reasons, in no particular order, are as follows:

  1. To make the film more accessible, easier to find, and less of a financial burden to watch, further increasing its visibility. 

  1. Use it as a tool to contribute to a discussion of the value of art, its economics, and its liberatory modes while struggling against not only Hollywood but capitalism. 

  1. Explore a Bandcamp-esque model for independent film, creating a “pay what you want” method in tandem with selling physical media (Blu-rays). This gives financial support to the film and all of the labor put into it, making it possible to continue to produce films. Bandcamp Friday every day, if you will. 

  1. To strongly uphold the values of the film and myself (these claims are my own and do not necessarily represent the diverse range of thought among everyone who worked on it), that art should be free in society and work towards abolishing global capitalism.   

  1. Radical art should especially be free to sustain reason four. See Solidarity Cinema Archive, for example. 

Releasing any film, publicly, for free is frowned upon in filmmaking spheres because it “devalues” any future exploitation of the product from streaming services (TVOD, AVOD, SVOD) and film festivals. However, since we control the rights of the film we can choose to take it off YouTube at any time while also creating physical media as a way to financially support the film and have ownership over it. 

As for festivals, we haven’t gotten into any which is always disheartening because, on paper, festivals are such a beautiful place to share cinematic experiences. However, festivals lost their radical potential long, now saturated with corporate endorsements and risk-averse programming. By bypassing classic cinematic gatekeepers like distributors, streamers, aggregators, and festivals we create a truly democratic way to view the film. While they do not see economic value in the film (perhaps because of content, perhaps because of form) we see political value in its ability to be available in the democratic content hell of YouTube. 

It might be seen as sacrilege to the art of cinema or the beauty of the image, but holding on too tightly to these ideals forgets the material and spiritual value of art. Nobody can see the film if they don’t know where to find it, even fewer people will spend money on a film they’ve never heard of, and fewer won’t spend money on a film at all. I don’t judge either position, why would you, after all, pay for something that should be free? And this is the contradiction once again. 

That contradiction is the main reason for releasing the film for free. We want to explore this contradiction, to explore producing art under capitalism, to explore collective liberation, to explore alternative forms of producing art, and to explore everything that gets us a step further to a world of truly democratized art and the abolition of police, prison, private property, the existing form of economic relations, settler colonialism, environmental pillage, and capitalism.

And so, The Lovers is available for free on YouTube. Please watch, engage, rate, review on Letterboxd, discuss, and interrogate. The Lovers was made by Parker Eisen (me), Varun Ramadhyani, Spencer Swenson, Zoe Kissel, Dylan Kissel, Brennan Huizinga, Alex Leon, Ryan Powell, Emily Proctor, Alek Kristopher, Mamie Blessing, and Christina Thomas with the poster and font created by Chloe J. Harpst. 

The best way to support the film is to purchase a Blu-ray, a digital copy, or to give directly to The Lovers. Visit for more info.


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