George Orwell 1984 movie back in theatres in stand against 'alternative facts'

'They're occurring today, April 4, because that's the day in 1984 when Winston, the main character, starts his diary, that is his first act of rebellion against the totalitarian state,' says a Film Society of Lincoln Centre organiser.VIDEO: REUTERS
A 2015 photo from a book fair in Hong Kong shows a boy reading a book next to copies of British writer George Orwell's 1984.
A 2015 photo from a book fair in Hong Kong shows a boy reading a book next to copies of British writer George Orwell's 1984.PHOTO: AFP

NEW YORK (REUTERS) - Nearly 200 independent movie theatres across the United States on Tuesday (April 4) screened the film of George Orwell’s “1984” novel about a dystopian future, in what organisers say is a stand against US President Donald Trump’s administration.

The 1949 book, which returned to the US best-seller list in January, features a “Big Brother” government that spies on its citizens and forces them into “doublethink,” or simultaneously accepting contradictory versions of the truth.

The movie based on the book was released in 1984, starring John Hurt and Richard Burton.

Organisers the United State of Cinema said the screenings across 44 US states on Tuesday were arranged 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.’”

At a packed afternoon screening of 1984 held at the Film Society at Lincoln Centre in Manhattan, New York resident Laura Fliegner was in attendance with her husband. “We think it makes a statement, going to see it again, and remind ourselves what happens when you slide off a slippery slope,” Fliegner said.

Nicolas Rapold, who helped organise the Lincoln Centre screening, said he expects at least 100 people to attend each of the three free screenings at the venue.

The British novel was reprinted in January, decades after it was written, following the Trump administration’s defence of “alternative facts,” a term White House official Kellyanne Conway used during a dispute over the size of the crowd at Trump’s inauguration.

Adam Birnbaum, director of Film Programming for the Avon Theatre Film Centre in Stamford, Connecticut, and co-organiser of the event, said Orwell’s themes were just as relevant today as they were nearly 70 years ago.

“Our concern is the idea that the only answer is the one coming from the mouthpiece running the (Trump) administration and that there’s this effort to sort of snuff out anything but that,” Birnbaum said.

He added that a number of the theatres showing 1984 on Tuesday had scheduled post-film audience discussions. “If nothing else, we hope that people will continue to be voices of opposition to some of the practices that are currently being employed by government,” he said.

After the afternoon screening at the Lincoln Centre, Fliegner said, “It’s all just very chilling” as she exited the theatre.