The American Film Institute has started a new movie club to help those of us who are currently in self-isolation and practicing social distancing. With the help of legendary filmmaker Steven Spielberg, the organization has launched the AFI Movie Club, which will announce a featured cinematic classic each day that movie lovers around the world can watch as a collective online. Steven Spielberg is helping to launch the initiative with its first selection, The Wizard of Oz.
Described by AFI as "a daily virtual gathering to leverage our collective love of film on behalf of optimism in this time of global uncertainty," the AFI Movie Club doesn't require any paid subscription or anything of the like. It's simply a way for fans of classic cinema to come together around this shared interest, with the help of special guests. Steven Spielberg, director of cinematic classics such as Raiders of the Lost Ark, Jurassic Park and Saving Private Ryan, appeared in a brief video to announce the first selection. Here's what Spielberg had to say.
"I have the honor of introducing the very first film we would encourage the world to watch, The Wizard of Oz. Now, I know you think you've seen it, but please think again because, right now, at this moment in our history what better message is there than there's no place like home?"
AFI will select an iconic movie each day as they look to create a communal viewing experience, while maintaining social distancing. Other special guests will announce select the AFI Movies of the Day via short videos posted on the group's website and social media platforms. Audiences can "gather" at the club's official website to view the featured movie each day using preexisting streaming services. The daily selections will be supported by fun facts, family discussion points and exclusive material from the AFI Archive. Audiences are encouraged to continue the conversation online using the hashtag #AFIMovieClub. Bob Gazzale, President and CEO of AFI, had this to say in a statement.
"AFI's goal is to live in a world of art above anxiety. We're honored to have Steven Spielberg, the greatest storyteller of our day, lead the way."
The Wizard of Oz was originally released in 1939. As classic cinema goes, it doesn't get much more iconic. Directed by Victor Fleming, the tale of Dorothy (Judy Garland) and her dog Toto became a massive hit and an Oscar-winner in its day. But its legacy goes far beyond industry accolades, as it is consistently recognized as one of the greatest and most important movies ever made.
There is no word yet on who else will be tapped to help present these movies, but it's probably best kept a surprise until the big reveal each day. The Wizard of Oz isn't currently available to stream for free, but it is available to rent from most major online retailers. Those interested in learning more about the AFI Movie Club can head on over to AFI.com.