An open love letter to Noirvember


Dear Noirvember,

You came into my life four years ago and my world has been nothing but improved ever since. With all your dark corners, mirrors, shadow chasing, broken cities and flawed characters, you make November not only bearable, but something to look forward to.

I realised my love for noir fairly late in life. I’ve always loved German Expressionism and crime movies, but it took me a while to realise there was a whole pool of work out there that just about combined everything I love the most in filmmaking. Even as a teenager, hooked on Veronica Mars, I knew I loved it, for a whole bunch of reasons, but it took me much longer to see the noir thread run through it. But then again, even though I’ve always loved film, it also took me a while to realise that was my calling in life, so maybe noir didn’t come in so late after all – it’s all a matter of perspective. Anyway… where I’m getting at with all my babbling is that one of the things I love the most about you, Noirvember, is how inclusive and accessible you are. It doesn’t matter if you’re an avid fan, or if you’ve only just heard about noir as a genre, if you’re planning on watching nothing but noir for a month, or just enjoy a couple of films and perhaps a novel, you are here for all, wrapping your slightly creepy and yet so attractive arms around all of us. You feel safe and exciting and a little wrong too with all the flaws and complexities your genre carries, and that’s why we love you so.

You’re not quite like anything else. You’re everywhere at once and you have no real rules. You are open to the classic noir era, of course, but also the precursors, the neo-noirs and the on-the-edge-of, and to all of the mediums, film, TV, literature, music, photography, painting and the rest of it. You are a sort of fantastic virtual festival that we can all curate a little and that we can all join in without having to worry about breaking the bank to pay for that flight around the world. We all contribute and engage in our own way and to the level that feels the most comfortable to us all, and that is why you are fantastic. We can all discover and rediscover the genre, and if we feel like it, we can join the #Noirvember conversation. There is an infinite pool of people waiting to recommend, suggest, discuss, argue over and celebrate the work out there, and it only gets bigger and bigger each year. I look forward to seeing even more people, groups, organisations and venues get involved too. Your true power resides in the fact that the moment someone starts engaging with your community, the more they want to get involved and experience. I, and many others I’m sure, have tried to share your principles with venues and people around me. People have been responsive. Venues not so much. It is their loss.

Here in the UK, for the past few years, the BFI have launched major seasons around a specific theme, encouraging venues around the country to take part in a celebration of Gothic, sci-fi, black acting talent, etc… It’s great and does create a sort of moment, lasting a few weeks each year, where we can all cherish the best things about a chosen theme. But it has its constraints, in that the celebration happens almost solely in theatres, and although nothing beats watching something on the big screen, it doesn’t feel quite the same. I get it, from an exhibitor’s point of view, you want people to come to your venue and not spend their time at home where they’re not buying cinema tickets. But you see, what I have found with Noirvember, is that watching all those films at home, only makes me want to go to the cinema and watch them on the big screen with a bunch of other people, and make an event of it, and that would be the icing on the cake. It’s okay for people to engage with those seasons and film celebrations at home – eventually, if you make it attractive and inclusive enough, they will come to you to watch things on the big screen. I’m not sure we’re doing things in the right order when we’re thinking about inclusivity once we’ve set a whole bunch of rules around something that’s meant to be joyful and celebratory, but maybe that’s just me. I do truly believe people can be encouraged to go to the cinema by starting their experience at home, but maybe I’m biased because that was my journey into the cinema.

Anyway… my point is: we need more things like you, Noirvember. More movements that unite film lovers from around the world and around the clock around one shared passion. And that can be true for other art forms too, not just film. Again, the fact that you don’t limit yourself to film, is one of the many great things about you.

So thank you, for being this island where we can all indulge a little and make friends and learn from each other and share a whole bunch of things, not just thoughts about films, but ideas, passions, unusual loves, and open doors onto more things to discover, love and share, perhaps next Noirvember, or perhaps in a different celebratory movement you may inspire.

And before I wrap this up, there is one more thing left to do, and that is, my dear Noirvember, to thank your creator, Marya E. Gates*. Without Marya, I would not have met you – none of us would have; the perfect example of how it only takes one person to make a world of difference. So, Marya, thank you. Thank you for inventing and creating this space, which you probably didn’t realise at the time, would become this big and continue to grow. Thank you for continuing to look after it so well, all the while letting it become its own multi-legged and multi-shadowed monster. Thank you for still being around and so involved in it, and for all your recommendations (with specific thanks this year, for introducing me to @VMarsConfession), and for your continual guidance. And, thank you for virtually introducing many of us to Bourbon and chocolate milkshake – really, thank you!

Noirvember 2016, you were a dream. Here’s to many, many more years of shadow-chasing in your company.

With much, much love.

*You should all visit Marya’s site for all things movies, not just Noirvember.


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