Against The Grain

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Against The Grain (2023) isn’t just a special feature on Vinegar Syndrome’s Lost Picture Show boxed set, it’s a film that is both a lover letter to and a history of how physical media has led to the preservation of films. The films in question aren’t by any major studios, they are small films produced by doctors, businessmen, or maverick filmmakers. These are genre films that exist on the outskirts of film history, beyond any popular canons.

As a history Against The Grain follows the rise of home video media from 1979 through the watershed work of Something Weird Video in the 90s to Vinegar Syndrome today. It’s a history of neglected and lost films being discovered and released on tape, DVD, and Blu-Ray for the public to access. It’s a history of preservation as much as it is a history of the subversion of mainstream cinema.

This is the point, this is why the people at AGFA, Vinegar Syndrome, Severin Films, Milestone Films, etc. work so hard to find and salvage these cinematic curios. They rescue, restore, and preserve these films because these films show a side of our collective cultural history that doesn’t exist at the major Hollywood studios. These “lost” genre films capture regional cultures, histories and alternative modes of production that deserve to be a part of our international heritage.

Against The Grain invites viewers to re-think how they engage with physical media and the cinema in general. With access to these once “lost” films, collectors are able to collect films to form their own canon that prizes Citizen Kane (1941) alongside something like What’s Love? (1987) or Bat Pussy (1973). And while that endevour is exciting to any physical media collector, what’s even more exciting is that the work of organizations like Vinegar Syndrome is really only just beginning.