Heralded as "National Screening Day," two Americans — Dylan Skolnick, co-director of the Cinema Arts Centre on Long Island, New York; and Adam Birnbaum, director of film programming at the Avon Theatre Film Center in Connecticut — organized the global affair. The pair began formalizing the idea after the presidential election, thinking that an event involving cinema would be appropriate political expression.
"In particular, this undermining of the concept of facts and the demonization of foreign enemies" by the president and his administration "really resonate in '1984,'" Skolnick told Al Jazeera.
The story of "1984" takes place in a world under perpetual war and an omnipresent government that surveils and manipulates the public.
"There's a central line from the book about the freedom to say that two plus two equals four, even when the government is telling you that two plus two equals five," Skolnick said. "It's a great book and it connects with a lot of things that are happening right now."
Scholnick said that they chose April 4 as the screening date because that is the day when the story's protagonist begins keeping a secret diary, an act of rebellion against the government. After announcing the idea, more than 190 theaters, from Canada and the United Kingdom to Sweden and Croatia, planned on joining the protest.
"No one is suggesting that we're living in Orwell's world. But the road to that world is people just becoming disengaged and allowing their government to do whatever it wants," Skolnick said.