• From Patrick Wang’s In the Family

This weekend I made it to Facets Multimedia’s final screening of Patrick Wang’s In the Family, after missing every other Chicago-area screening since it opened at the Music Box in April. Rarely am I so lucky, as five months is a wide time frame in which to see a movie in theaters anymore. The average commercial release now appears on DVD only three months after its theatrical opening—and many art house releases premiere on Video on Demand before people can see them in any other setting. The extended run of In the Family is a special case, the combined result of good press (including four-star reviews from Roger Ebert and J.R. Jones), strong word of mouth, a programmer willing to bet on the film’s growing reputation, and a distributor shrewdly taking his time with the DVD release. These factors help to frame In the Family as a social experience, which suits this community-minded movie especially well. There’s an added charge to watching Family‘s depictions of everyday discrimination in a crowded room, as the live community confronts the one onscreen and is forced to share in its moral failing.