As newsrooms across the country are slimmed, shuttered, or de-fanged, local journalism is facing a crisis unparalleled in recent history. In the late 1970s, however, filmmaker Joan Micklin Silver foresaw this with her second feature, Between the Lines. Following the staff of the Back Bay Mainline, a small-but-vital Boston weekly paper, through a potential corporate buyout—complete with promises of no change—Micklin Silver perceptively charts the interpersonal dramas (inter-office romance and Jeff Goldblum antics abound) and the machinations of the Mainline’s dedicated staff to keep the paper afloat and staunchly independent. “You might say that Between the Lines is barely about a newspaper at all, more about a bunch of youngish people whose energies are running out, as American counterculture itself had run their course, with the ’80s and its hard-nosed principles about to kick in. It’s only a matter of time before the staffers are hearing they need ‘a broader-based readership to attract more advertisers’—which is why Silver’s film also feels now like a prescient farewell to the values that had made the new American cinema of the ’70s so vital.”—Jonathan Romney, Film Comment.
Appears in: Three Films by Joan Micklin Silver