I’m mixed on this. While it’s great to see the show get such a prestigious accolade, it raises questions about how BFI defines “film” going forward. Is S3/TR/LES more filmlike structurally than other seasons of television? I’m not sure that it is. This is a work edited into 18 distinct hours, with musical acts in many cases acting as very conscious punctuation marks. This wasn’t simply due to the realities of the distribution platform, as the Blu Ray will apparently present the work in the same format, with no option to watch as one long continuous piece. In fact, despite DKL’s protestations that this is a film, the Blu Ray/DVD box calls it a “series.”
Sure, it subverts TV structure in some brilliant and revolutionary ways...but the very fact that it is concerned with TV conventions reinforces the fact that it IS a TV series. While it is heavily serialized, I don’t think it is necessarily moreso than, say, your typical Netflix drama. (Hell, the first season of Top of the Lake exists in a UK version and a US version, with the same material but edited into a different number of episodes, demonstrating how arbitrary episode breaks have become in many circumstances.) Combined with the fact that two hours of the show were screened at Cannes, does this list demonstrate that we have entered an era where delivery mechanisms, and even the artist’s chosen presentation of the work divided into parts, ceases to be a meaningful distinction? I have been saying for years that the last decade and a half of cable drama is reminiscent of the revolution in cinema in the 1970s, and DKL has voiced similar thoughts, calling TV the new arthouse. If the best audiovisual work being done currently is on TV, and if distribution realities such as Netflix and streaming have impossibly blurred distinctions between “film” and “television,” is it time to just throw everything together in one category? If so, is it fair to evaluate an 18-hour work on the same level as a 2-3 hour film? Wouldn’t this be as silly as lumping feature films and shorts into the same category?
Also interesting/weird to note that, instead of listing the director as they do on the other works, they list L/F as creators. I’m always glad to see Mark get his due, but in the interest of consistency, if we’re looking at TR as a film, DKL directed the whole thing, and Mark is very much the equivalent of a producer/screenwriter on a traditional film.