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Where were you when the MoC announcements came?
Re-tweeting Eureka's Masters of Cinema release announcements should be a simple process, but as Slarek recalls, it doesn't always work out that way | 26 November 2013

At fairly regular intervals, Eureka announce the Blu-ray and DVD titles they'll be releasing under the Masters of Cinema label over the following three months. It's always an exciting time, akin to finding out what films were to be screened on TV over the Christmas holiday period before the advent of home video rendered such listings largely moot. Eureka like to announce them first via Twitter, a ploy doubtless designed to generate more social media traffic than they'd likely get from a regular press release. But it also allows them to tease us with a series of countdown tweets and give each title a separate announcement, keeping us on tenterhooks about what the next one might be.

It's the only time I ever find myself glued to Twitter, as eager to see what the titles will be as I am to pass on the news to others. Probably more so if the truth be told. The only problem for me is that these announcements tend to be made at 10am on weekday when I'm at work, and catching them as they are broadcast requires sometimes sneaky behaviour. If I'm computer bound for the morning then it's a relatively simple task, as I can sit a Twitter window on the corner of the desktop ("I've never seen that window on InDesign before" – "Oh it's a new plug-in"), where a re-tweet requires only a quick sideways flick of the mouse. Mind you, when I worked in an open office, my sudden, poodle-like yelps of excitement would have my colleagues wondering what the hell was going on in my already suspiciously regarded corner of the room. One time I was even re-tweeting from the passenger seat of a car as we drove between filming locations. As the tweets rolled in I began urging my bemused companion to perhaps drive just a little slower so that we didn't reach or location before the announcements were complete.

I completely missed the tweets announcing the late 2013 releases due to being behind a camera at a live filmed event, and fiddling with your phone while you're filming is frankly a recipe for artistic disaster. A couple of years ago I was shooting a drama for a director who would sometimes start texting while we were filming, making me wonder how the hell he was judging the performances. He also tended to shift on his feet and pace around while he was doing this, and on two occasions actually wandered in front of one of the lights, throwing his shadow onto the actors and ruining the take. Such incidents may well be at the root of my unreasonable desire to repeatedly bitch-slap anyone who spends half their day with a mobile phone glued to one hand and cannot go five minutes without checking to see if, somewhere out in the virtual world, somebody still likes them.

But I digress. This time Masters of Cinema were good enough to send us a personal reminder of their upcoming announcements, and I was off work for a few days visiting my good friend and fellow reviewer, I was all geared up to re-tweet them. Then I realised where I would be at 10am on the appointed Monday. I'd be on a train. In Norfolk. And I would be connecting my non-3G iPad to the Net using my old and battered iPhone as a personal hotspot. If you've ever tried to do this on a Norwich to London train, you'll probably be aware that the line passes through whole swathes of countryside that have no real need for a mobile phone signal (most farm animals are notoriously land-line based), and the speed of any signal that you do intermittently get will depend very much on your carrier. As 10am approached I was surprised to find that actually had a signal, but it vanished the very second after I tweeted that the announcements were on their way. All of this added a layer of tension to my excitement, as I not only had to wait for each new announcement, but for that spinning "wait for it!" phone graphic to actually locate a signal and reveal to me what I was missing. And as my first train change approached, one that allows you only a few short minutes to stumble from one end of a platform to the other, I found myself audibly urging those at Eureka responsible for sending out the tweets to get that last one up before I had to pack everything away and take my position at the starting gate for the upcoming cross-platform race.

But the odd thing was that all this extra hassle ended up heightening the sense of occasion that surrounds the whole affair, particularly as the announcements were once again worth the wait. There's always a fabulous diversity to the titles that Eureka announce, one that keeps you guessing about what can possibly come up next. And look at the range this time: a quirky retro-modern indie (Computer Chess), a classic of silent cinema (Wings), one of the most iconic films to come out of 1970s America (Serpico), two acknowledged Italian masterworks (Federico Fellini's Roma and Francesco Rosi's Hands Across the City), and a controversial and criminally under-appreciated work from one of America's most rightly celebrated mavericks (Sam Fuller's White Dog), all on Blu-ray and most in dual format editions. Is it any wonder we get so excited by those quarterly announcements?