On April 4th, 90 movie theaters in 79 cities in 34 American states, including three theaters in Canada will screen George Orwell’s dystopian classic “1984” in protest of the Trump administration. The United States of Cinema organizers specifically picked this date as a nod to the book’s main character, Winston Smith, who began detailing life under an oppressive government in a diary on that date. The Cinema’s organizers said in a statement that they wanted to encourage theaters to take a stand for freedom of speech, respect fellow human beings, and acknowledge there is no such thing as alternative facts.

The statement also notes the Trump administration’s mission to gut funding to the National Endowment for the Arts, adding that any attempt to ax the program was an attack on creative expression through arts and entertainment and an attack on freedom of speech.

Theaters across America unite

Reportedly, participating theaters will donate a portion of the proceeds to local charities or use the funds to underwrite educational and community-related programming. A full list of theaters supporting the effort to galvanize communities and resist efforts to undermine society is available on the United States of Cinema website. The late John Hurt played the part of Winston Smith.

How prophetic is Orwell’s best-seller?

In January, Orwell’s “1984” saw huge success after climbing to Amazon’s best-seller list, prompting book publisher Penguin to reprint 75,000 copies. A theatrical adaption of the book is set to make its mark on Broadway this June. First published in 1949, interest in “1984” grew after comparisons were made to Trump and his administration, namely Kellyanne Conway’s utterance of the words “alternative facts." The book touches on an abundance of “alternative facts” layered in newspeak, which is an absolute threat to democracy.

To have disdain and disregard for the truth is to have desire for totalitarian management of it. Orwell’s written portrait of a government demonizing others, distorting facts and demanding loyalty seems eerily like life imitating art these days.

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