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Movie security

Posted at 12:47 PM on December 5, 2005 by Euan Kerr

I got 'wanded' going into the "Narnia" preview Saturday. It was nothing to do with "the deep magic." Everyone going in to the theater was given a once-over by one of three security guards waving their hand-held metal detectors.

They were looking for pirates, the people who take cameras and tape recorders into movies and then sell bootlegs to whomever it is who buys these things. I must admit I don't understand the attraction of watching a tape of something shot on a cell phone, complete with the sound of popcorn munching, and people walking out to the restroom. Yet apparently it turns enough people's cranks to make it worthwhile for the pirates.

When I saw "North Country" at the Toronto International Film Festival, I witnessed two security teams setting up at the front of the theater with night vision goggles. All through the film they swept the audience from platforms on either side of the screen, looking for pirates taping. A couple of times they walked through the aisles too, peering through the gloom with their hi tech spyware. It was only the second public screening of the film, so I suppose it was to be expected, but it was still a little creepy.

However it just looked weird to me to see kids as young as five being searched as they went into the theater at the weekend. We live in a strange world.

I was actually stopped by one of the guards, not because of the cell phone I had in my pocket, but because of the notepad I had in my hand. "You a critic?" he growled. It's a simple enough question, but one which sets off all sorts of quibbles and justifications in any journalist's mind.

"Yeah. I mean, no. I mean, maybe," I muttered. He waved me on. It was only after I realized he may have been concerned that the notepad too is a recording device.

December 2005
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