News

Cannes Classics 2019

4/26/2019 12:00:00 AM

The 25 years of La Cité de la peur, a Midnight Screening of The Shining presented by Alfonso Cuarón, the 50 years of the mythical Easy Rider in the company of Peter Fonda, Luis Buñuel in the spotlight with three films, the attendance of Lina Wertmüller, the Grand Prix of 1951 Vittorio De Sica's Miracle in Milan, a final salute to Milos Forman, the first Japanese animated film in color, the World Cinema Project and the Film Foundation of Martin Scorsese, documentaries about cinema and History, masterpieces known and rare films in restored version from countries rarely honored, this is the new edition of Cannes Classics—the first section dedicated to heritage cinema ever created in a major festival.  

 The majority of the films will be screened at Buñuel Theater, Salle du 60e or at the Cinéma de la Plage, all presented by major players in the film heritage: directors, artists or restoration managers.

The 50 years of the mythical Easy Rider

Presented half a century ago on the Croisette, in Competition at the Festival de Cannes, the film won the Prize for a first work. Co-writer, co-producer and lead actor, Peter Fonda will be in Cannes at the invitation of the Festival to celebrate this anniversary.

Easy Rider (1969, 1h35, USA) by Dennis Hopper

Restored in 4K by Sony Pictures Entertainment in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna. Restored from the 35mm Original Picture Negative and 35mm Black and White Separation Masters. 4K scanning and digital image restoration by Immagine Ritrovata. Audio restoration from the 35mm Original 3-track Magnetic Master by Chace Audio and Deluxe Audio. Color grading, picture conform, additional image restoration and DCP by Roundabout Entertainment. Colorist: Sheri Eisenberg. Restoration supervised by Grover Crisp.

 

Midnight Screening of The Shining 

The ultimate horror film for an event screening presented by Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón.
      

The Shining by Stanley Kubrick (1980, 2h26, UK / USA)

A Presentation of Warner Bros. The 4K remastering was done using a new 4K scan of the original 35mm camera negative. The mastering was done at Warner Bros. Motion Picture Imaging, and the color grading was done by Janet Wilson, with supervision from Stanley Kubrick’s former personal assistant Leon Vitali.

 

The 50 years of La Cité de la peur

The cult comedy of comic group Les Nuls will be screened at Cannes Classics au Cinéma de la Plage upon the occasion of the 4K restoration of the film for its 25th anniversary with Alain Chabat, Chantal Lauby and Dominique Farrugia in attendance.
 

La Cité de la peur, une comédie familiale (1994, 1h39, France) by Alain Berbérian

Presented by Studiocanal. A restoration by Studiocanal and TF1 Studio . 4K scanning 16bits from the original negative 35mm on Lasergraphics director. The pre-calibration was done in a projection room equipped by a 4k projector 4k Christie Laser by Pascal Bousquet and additional work of filtering, dusting was done to compensate the imperfection due to the age of the film. Optical illusion composited on DI on Flame to remain close to the quality of the original negative. Calibration validated by Laurent Dailland, director of photography. Original digital sound was used without modification. Work of remastering done by VDM Laboratory. 
 

Luis Buñuel in the spotlight with three films

Three films by Mexican director and screenwriter, with Spanish origin, will be shown this year.  
 

Los Olvidados (The Young and the Damned) (1950, 1h20, Mexico) by Luis Buñuel

Presented by the World Cinema Project. Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project at L’Immagine Ritrovata in collaboration with Fundación Televisa, Cineteca Nacional Mexico, and Filmoteca de la UNAM. Restoration funding provided by The Material World Foundation. 

 

Nazarín (1958, 1h34, Mexico) by Luis Buñuel

Presented by Cineteca Nacional Mexico. 3K Scan and 3K Digital Restoration from the original 35mm image negative (preserved by Televisa) and prints positive materials from Cineteca Nacional. Restoration made and financed by Cineteca Nacional Mexico. Mastered in 2K for Digital Projection.

 

L'Âge d'or (The Golden Age) (1930, 1h, France) by Luis Buñuel

Presented by La Cinemathèque française. A 4K restoration of The Golden Age was done by la Cinemathèque française and le Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI/Experimental cinema’s department, at Hiventy Laboratory for the image and at L.E. Diapason’s studio for the sound, using the original nitrate negative, original sound and safety elements.

 

 

Tribute to Lina Wertmüller

The first woman director ever nominated as a director at the Academy Awards in 1977 for Pasqualino Settebellezze, Lina Wertmüller will introduce the film with lead actor Giancarlo Giannini in attendance.
 

Pasqualino Settebellezze (Seven Beauties(1975, 1h56, Italy) by Lina Wertmüller

Presented by Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia - Cineteca Nazionale. Restored by Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia - Cineteca Nazionale with the support of Genoma Films and Deisa Ebano from the original 35mm picture and optical soundtrack negative made available by RTI S.p.A. Digital scanning and restoration work carried out by Cinema Communications in Rome.

 

The 1951 “Palme d'or”

The Palme d'or was created in 1955 but the Grand Prix awarded to Miracle in Milan by Vittorio De Sica was the equivalent.
 

Miracolo a Milano (Miracle in Milan) (1951, 1h40, Italy) by Vittorio De Sica

Presented by Cineteca di Bologna. Restored by Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna and Compass Film, in collaboration with Mediaset, Infinity TV, Artur Cohn, Films sans frontières and Variety Communications at L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory. 4K Scan and Digital Restoration from the original 35mm camera negative and a vintage dupe positive. Colour grading supervised by DoP Luca Bigazzi. 


 

Milos Forman

A devotee of the Festival de Cannes, a former President of the Jury, a director with several lives, Milos Forman passed away one year ago. The restoration of his second film and a documentary will give us the opportunity to pay our tribute and remember him.
 

Lásky jedné plavovlásky (Loves of a Blonde) (1965, 1h21, Czech Republic) by Milos Forman

A presentation of the Národní filmový archiv, Prague. 4K digital restoration based on the original camera done by the Universal Production Partners and Soundsquare in Prague, 2019. The donors of this project were Mrs. Milada Kučerová and Mr. Eduard Kučera. Restored in partnership with the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival and the Czech Film Fund. French distribution: Carlotta Films.

 

Forman vs. Forman (Czech Republic / France, 1h17) by Helena Trestikova and Jakub Hejna

Presented by  Negativ Film Productions, Alegria Productions, Czech Television, ARTE. A powerful documentary that recounts with emotion the career of director Milos Forman, from the Czech New Wave to Hollywood. Oscars, politics and political upheavals for a life in the service of cinema.


 

All the restored films of Cannes Classics 2019

Toni by Jean Renoir (1934, 1h22, France)

Presented by Gaumont. First digital restoration in 4K presented by Gaumont with the support of the CNC. Restoration done by L’image retrouvée in Bologna and Paris.

 

Le Ciel est à vous (1943, 1h45, France) by Jean Grémillon

Presented by TF1 Studio. Restaured version in 4K using two intermediate and a duplicate done by TF1 studio, with the support of the CNC and Coin de Mire cinéma. Digital and photochimical work done by L21 laboratory. 

 

Moulin Rouge (1952, 1h59, UK) by John Huston  

Presented and restored by The Film Foundation in collaboration with Park Circus, Romulus Films and MGM with additional funding provided by the Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique partnership between the Directors Guild of America (DGA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), the Société des Auteurs, Compositeurs et Editeurs de Musique (SACEM), and the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW).   Restored from the 35mm Original Nitrate 3-Strip Technicolor Negative. 4K scanning, color grading, digital image restoration and film recording by Cineric, Inc., New York. Colorist: Daniel DeVincent. Audio restoration by Chace Audio. Restoration Consultant: Grover Crisp.

 

Kanal (They Loved Life) (1957, 1h34, Poland) by Andrzej Wajda

Presented by Malavida, in association with Kdr. Scanned, calibrated and restored in 4K under the artistic supervision of Andrzej Wajda and Jerzy Wójcik, second DOP, and regular collaborator of Wajda (Ashes and Diamonds) and one of the greatest Polish DOP. Technical supervision: Waldermar Makula. 4k Scan from the original negative, image and sound. Producted by Studio Filmowe Kadr with the participation of  Filmoteka Narodowa. French distribution: Malavida. International Sales: Studio Filmowe Kadr.

 

Hu shi ri ji (Diary of a Nurse) (1957, 1h37, China) by Tao Jin

Presented by IQIYI et New Ipicture Media co., ltd (NIPM). 4K Scan and 3K Digital Restoration from the original 35mm print positive materials mastered in 2K. Restoration financed by IQIYI & NIPM, and made by L’Immagine Ritrovata (Italy) and Laser Digital Film SRL (Italy). 

 

Hakujaden (The White Snake Enchantress) (1958, 1h18, Japan) by Taiji Yabushita

Presented by  Toei Animation Company, ltd., Toei company, ltd. et and National Archive of Japan. The project celebrates the 100th year anniversary for the birth of Japan animation and 60th anniversary for the original theatrical release in 1958.
4K scan and restoration from the original negative, 35mm print, tape materials, and animation cels by Toei lab tech co., ltd. et Toei digital center are carried out. The restored data is stored in 2K.

 

125 Rue Montmartre (1959, 1h25, France) by Gilles Grangier

Presented by Pathé. 4K Scan and 2k restoration, using the original safety negative (negative image, intermediate and negative optique sound) Work done by Eclair laboratory for the image and L.E Diapason (Léon Rousseau) for the sound part. Restored with the support of the Centre national du cinéma et de l'image animée (CNC).

 

A tanú (The Witness) (1969, 1h52, Hongrie) by Péter Bacsó

The original uncensored  version presented by the Hungarian National Film Fund – Film Archive. The film was restored in 4K using the original camera negative and outtakes, the only existing uncensored positive print and the original magnetic sound. The restoration was carried out at the Hungarian Filmlab. The digital colour grading was supervised by Tamás Andor (HSC, Hungarian Society of Cinematographers).

 

Tetri karavani (The White Caravan) (1964, 1h37, Georgia) by Eldar Shengelaia and Tamaz Meliava

Presented by Georgian National Film Center. 4K Scan from 35mm, digital restoration (color, grading, stabilization). Restoration financed by the Georgian National Film Center, the restoration made by National Archives of Georgia.

Director Eldar Shengelaia in attendance.

 

Plogoff, des pierres contre des fusils by Nicole Le Garrec (1980, 1h48, France)

Presented by Ciaofilm. Restored in 2k from the original negative 16mm image. Sound restoration from the 16mm magnetic. Work done by Hiventy laboratory  under the supervision of Ciaofilm and Pascale Le Garrec, with the help of the CNC, Région Bretagne and the Cinemathèque de Bretagne. Distributed by Next Film Distribution.

Director Nicole Le Garrec in attendance.

 

Caméra d’Afrique  (20 Years of African Cinema) by Férid Boughedir (1983, 1h38, Tunisia / France)

Presented by the CNC. Restoration: Laboratory of the CNC. 2K scan from the original 16mm image negative. Sound restoration : Hiventy. This movie fits into the restoration scheme initiated by L’Institut français and the CNC, supervised by the commitee for the African cinematographic heritage. Right-holders: Marsa film. French Distribution: Les Films du Losange.

Director Férid Boughedir in attendance. 

 

Dao ma zei (The Horse Thief ) (1986, 1h28, China) by Tian Zhuangzhuang and Peicheng Pan

Presented by Xi’An Film Studio. 4K Scan and 4K 48 fps digital restoration from the 35mm original camera negative. Restoration financed and made by China Film Archive.

Director Tian Zhuangzhuang  and Cinematographer Hou Yong in attendance. 

 

The Doors (Les Doors) (1991, 2h20, USA) by Oliver Stone

Presented by Studiocanal, in partnership with Paramount, Lionsgate and Imagine Ritrovatta. Restored in 4k, initiated and supervised by Oliver Stone from the original negative, scanned in 4k 16 bits on ARRISCAN at Fotokem US. Restoration managed by Imagine Ritrovatta in Italy. Calibrated work supervised by Oliver Stone. Immersive soundtrack thanks to the Atmos mix created by Formosa Group, Hollywood, under the supervision of Dolby and original mixers of the film Wylie Stateman and Lon Bender. The movie can be seen in 7.1 and 5.1. Remastered 4K now available in 4K Cinema, UHD Dolby Vision and Atmos.


 

Documentaries

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (USA, 1h34) by Midge Costin

Presented by Dogwoof and Cinetic Media.

The biggest directors and artists make us immerse in the history and impact of sound in cinema: Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Barbra Streisand, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Patty Jenkins, Robert Redford, Ryan Coogler, David Lynch, Sofia Coppola, Christopher Nolan, Ang Lee, Walter Murch. A rich, fascinating and essential documentary.

 

Les Silences de Johnny (55mn, France) by Pierre-William Glenn

Presented by les films du Phœnix  in coproduction with Ciné+.

A personal and moving portrait of actor Johnny Hallyday by great cinematographer, director and friend of Johnny's Pierre-William Glenn.

 

La Passione di Anna Magnani (1h, Italy / France) by Enrico Cerasuolo

Presented by les Films du Poisson and Zenit Arti Audiovisive. 

The destiny of legendary actress Anna Magnani through archive footage, often unpublished. To dive into the history of Italian cinema.

 

Cinecittà - I mestieri del cinema Bernardo Bertolucci (Italy, 55mn) by Mario Sesti

Presented by Erma Pictures in collaboration with Cinecittà Luce.

A presentation of Erma Pictures in collaboration with Cinecittà Luce.

The last interview of the Master Bertolucci who recalls his work with precision, delicacy and philosophy. A movie lesson.

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EXCLUSIVE: Nina Menkes' QUEEN OF DIAMONDS Restoration Gets A New Trailer From Arbelos

J Hurtado

4/19/2019 12:00:00 AM

A new distributor on the block is making big waves with their acquisition and restorations of classic film from around the world. From the ashes of Cinelicious Pics has risen Arbelos, who've already worked on stunning restorations of Dennis Hopper's The Last Movie and Bela Tarr's Satantango, and among their many exciting upcoming projects we now have Nina Menkes' '90s feminist touchstone, Queen of Diamonds to look forward to.

Queen of Diamonds will open with a run at BAM in New York on April 26th, followed by an LA opening on June 15th. Both locations will have opportunities to engage with Menkes in the form of Q&A's as well as the chance to attend Menkes' Sex and Power: The Visual Language of Oppression talk on select dates. This is a unique opportunity that anyone within driving distance of these events should definitely put on their calendar.

Arbelos has given us an exclusive first look at the restoration trailer, you will find it below along with a couple of sample stills from the film.

Nina Menkes' QUEEN OF DIAMONDS New 4K Restoration 

Opens NYC on 4/26 at BAM

Opens LA on 6/15 at UCLA Film & Television Archive

An Arbelos release and co-presented with the Eos World Fund. New restoration by the The Academy Film Archive and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation. 

From Friday, April 26 through Thursday, May 2, BAM presents a brand new restoration of Nina Menkes’ radical, feminist feature, Queen of Diamonds (1991). Menkes will appear in person following the 7pm screening on April 26; she will also present her celebrated talk Sex and Power: The Visual Language of Oppression, followed by a Q&A, on April 27.

In one of the most jarringly original independent films of the 1990s, a disaffected blackjack dealer, (played by the director’s sister Tinka Menkes), drifts through a neon-soaked dream vision of Las Vegas and experiences a series of encounters alternately mundane, surreal, and menacing, while death and violence hover ever-present in the margins. Awash in lush, hallucinatory images, Queen of Diamonds is a haunting study of female alienation with intellectual heft and formal rigor, from a filmmaker whose work can be compared to Akerman, Fassbinder, and Lynch, but with a unique, singular vision all her own.

Queen of Diamonds will also be presented, along with Menkes’s nightmarish true-crime feature The Bloody Child, by the UCLA Film & Television Archive at the Billy Wilder Theater in Los Angeles on June 15th.

Based on her viral Filmmaker Magazine article “The Visual Language of Oppression: Harvey Weinstein Wasn’t Working in a Vacuum,” Menkes’ Sex and Power examines the ways formal shot design is gendered. Analyzing a series of film clips by major filmmakers—including Scorsese, Welles, Spike Lee, and many others—Menkes shows how traditional cinematic language underlies and supports sexual assault, harassment, and employment discrimination against women. The presentation has appeared at Sundance, Cannes, and the AFI International Film Festival, and is currently being made into a feature length documentary. Maria Giese, who instigated the historic ACLU and EEOC investigations against the Hollywood studios’ Title VII violations, will moderate a discussion following the talk.

Nina Menkes is the writer, director, and cinematographer of six feature films, including Magdalena Viraga (1986), Phantom Love (2007) and Dissolution (2012). Her films have shown widely at major festivals, including Sundance, Locarno, the Berlinale and she has had retrospectives internationally. Menkes has received American Film Institute and Guggenheim Fellowships, and was an artist-in-residence under the DAAD Artists-in-Berlin Program. She is currently a faculty member at California Institute of the Arts, and developing two new projects: Minotaur Rex, a horror-drama about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, (produced by Eos World Fund), and Heatstroke a psychological thriller about two sisters set in Cairo and LA (produced by Marginalia Pictures).

"Nina Menkes is one of the most provocative and challenging artists in film today.” 

Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

 

Queen of Diamonds may become for America in the 90’s what Jeanne Dielman was for Europe in the 70’s: a cult classic using rigorous visual composition to penetrate the innermost recesses of the soul.”

-Berenice Reynaud, The Chicago Reader

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Montclair Film Festival Premiering Restored ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’

Dave McNary

4/5/2019 12:00:00 AM

The Montclair Film Festival will hold the world premiere of the restoration of the 1959 movie “The Diary of Anne Frank,” Variety has learned exclusively.

The black-and-white film, directed by George Stevens, has been restored by Twentieth Century Fox and the Film Foundation. The holocaust drama was nominated for eight Academy Awards and won three, including best supporting actress for Shelly Winters. It will be screened May 5 at the Clairidge 2.

The festival, now in its eighth year, will take place May 3-12 in Montclair, N.J., and features more than 150 films, events, discussions and parties. The festival had previously announced that it would open with a screening of Tom Harper’s “Wild Rose,” with star Jessie Buckley attending for a post-screening Q&A at the Wellmont Theater.

This year’s Storyteller Series will include A Conversation with Mindy Kaling, moderated by Stephen Colbert, taking place May 4 at the Wellmont and A Conversation with Ben Stiller, moderated by Colbert, on May 5 at MKA Upper School. Olympia Dukakis will attend for a Q&A following the May 5 screening of Harry Mavromichalis’ documentary “Olympia” at MKA Upper School.

The festival’s fiction film highlights include Michael Tyburski’s “The Sound of Silence,” starring Peter Sarsgaard and Rashida Jones, Noble Jones’ “The Tomorrow Man,” starring John Lithgow and Blythe Danner; Mary Harron’s “Charlie Says” with Harron attending on May 4; Alex Thompson’s SXSW Audience Award winner “Saint Francis”; and Guy Nattiv’s “Skin,” starring Jamie Bell, Danielle Macdonald, and Vera Farmiga.

Documentary highlights include Roger Ross Williams “The Apollo,” which will screen May 4; Don Argott and Sheena M. Joyce’s “Framing John Delorean,” portions of which were shot in Montclair; Montclair’s own Erin Lee Carr with true crime thriller “I Love You, Now Die: The Commonwealth Vs. Michelle Carter”; and the premiere of Ken Spooner and Mike Mee’s “Life With Layla,” which examines the opioid epidemic through the experiences of a New Jersey family.

The festival is also screening its first Family Centerpiece film, Mark Deeble and Victoria Stone’s “The Elephant Queen,” presented by The Nature Conservancy. The Documentary Centerpiece will be “Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool” on May 10, with director Stanley Nelson attending for a Q&A.

“This year’s festival program reflects a wide range of concerns and points of view that speak to the
current state of our cinematic world,” said Montclair Film Executive Director Tom Hall. “Film is a global community, held together by our collective passion for the power of cinema. We look forward to our artists and audiences coming together to share that passion at the festival.”

Here are the titles in competition:

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

AMERICAN FACTORY, directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
HONEYLAND, directed by Tamara Kovetska and Ljubomir Stefanov
THE HOTTEST AUGUST, directed by Brett Story
MIDNIGHT FAMILY, directed by Luke Lorentzen
PAHOKEE, directed by Ivete Lucas and Patrick Bresnan

FICTION FEATURE COMPETITION

DIVINE LOVE, directed by Gabriel Mascarano
A FAMILY SUBMERGED, directed by Maria Alche
MANTA RAY, directed by Phuttiphong Aroonpheng
MONOS, directed by Alejandro Landes
ONE MAN DIES A MILLION TIMES, directed by Jessica Oreck

FUTURE/NOW COMPETITION

JULES OF LIGHT AND DARK, directed by Daniel Laabs
LIGHT FROM LIGHT, directed by Paul Harrill
MICKEY AND THE BEAR, directed by Annabelle Attanasio
PREMATURE, directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green
THE WORLD IS FULL OF SECRETS, directed by Graham Swon

NEW JERSEY FILMS COMPETITION

FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO, directed by Daniel Karslake
THE INFILTRATORS, directed by Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera
LIFE WITH LAYLA, directed by Ken Spooner and Mike Mee
MOSSVILLE: WHEN THE GREAT TREES FALL, directed by Alexander Glustrom
WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL, directed by Rob Garver

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Defogging Wanda

Ross Lipman

3/25/2019 12:00:00 AM


In early 2007 the UCLA Film & Television Archive received a call from Hollywood Film and Video announcing that the lab was, sadly, closing—and clearing its vaults in two days’ time. Anything left was doomed to the dumpster. The next morning a group of us arrived to see what we could salvage.

Walking through the musty basement, dank stairwells, and narrow aisles was like walking through a shuffled deck of cards: artifacts from the 1950s to the present lay atop each other, in seemingly unknowable order. The only light came from a few incandescent bulbs hanging irregularly amid the dark corridors of shelves, casting a yellow glow that dropped quickly into shadow. Aging equipment was everywhere, some still functional, some showing years of rust, dust, and corrosion. Puddles of oily water lurked underfoot reflecting sickly rainbows, and the smell of old chemicals and mold hung in the air.

The films lay about in differing arrays, long forgotten by their makers: B, C, and D movies, industrial films, commercials, printing tests, and the stray experimental short. We began making piles to save in our collection.

In one aisle, buried in a large stack on the floor, I found some 16 mm reels labeled “WANDA. Harry Shuster.” Who on earth was he? Surely this couldn’t be the classic independent film by Barbara Loden? Her name was nowhere to be found on either the boxes or the leaders. Taking no chances, I kept the oddity apart from my other discoveries; in fact, I took it back to our lab in my own car.

Immediately unspooling the reels on my workbench upon arriving, I realized we’d uncovered a piece of history. It was that Wanda—and no less than its original camera rolls. Harry Shuster, as I’d guessed, was the film’s producer. One more day and it would have gone to landfill.

But how to fund a restoration? Enter The Film Foundation, which has saved so many classic works over the years. In coincidental great timing, they’d recently begun a partnership with Gucci, whose express aim was preserving works by women visionaries. And so our work commenced.

At that time digital restoration was advancing rapidly but had not yet overtaken photochemical printing in archival practice. Thus our work would be on good old-fashioned film, at least initially. We began as Loden had herself, with a blow-up to 35 mm. But our route quickly began to vary. The exact stocks she used no longer existed, and their “official” replacements were problematic, increasing contrast and distorting color.

A crucial component of Wanda’s production, as I found in the camera rolls, was its Kodak Ektachrome ECB (7242) film stock, which has a unique color palette completely unlike Eastmancolor negative, Eastman Commercial film (ECO), or Kodachrome. In a stroke of luck, the bulk of the film was on this, and unfaded.

After extensive testing at Cinetech Laboratory we decided to avoid Kodak’s designated internegative, a holdover from a previous era that was not optimized for printing from projection-contrast film. To reduce contrast, we instead printed the reversal camera rolls to a low-speed negative camera stock and used pull-processing to reduce contrast—as I’d successfully done on a number of past titles. It’s interesting to note that in the intervening years, Kodak abandoned the interneg I nixed in favor of the camera stock. But this was years before that took place, and the result was stunning color.

Ironically, this led to what might strike some as an archival quandary. While the new color closely matched the original rolls, it was in fact much better than the old distribution prints, which apparently looked awful. To quote an early review in the British journal Films and Filming by Gordon Gow:

For the first couple of minutes, I thought it was all a ghastly mistake, this terrible muzz-colour . . . But soon it became obvious that Barbara Loden meant it to look messy, as if real life had been recorded perchance by an amateur photographer with cheap film and poor laboratory facilities.

It’s a nice interpretation. But was it valid? In Film Journal’s Summer 1971 interview with Loden, I found this:

Ruby Melton: The color in the film often has a washed-out, grainy effect and the lighting is sometimes very dim. Were these effects intentional?

Barbara Loden: Unless you have your own laboratory, it's difficult to control the quality of the color. In our original print the color looked extremely good, but later prints made by different labs were not such good quality.

Another question that arose was aspect ratio. 1.85 was clearly written on the leaders of an old 1970 distribution print in UCLA’s collection, as was common with 35 mm features at the time. Yet others disagreed. A pre-restoration French DVD release by Isabelle Huppert, Ronald Chammah, and Gemini Films chose the 16 mm native aspect ratio of 1.33, while the U.S. pre-restoration Parlour Pictures DVD release chose 1.66, in dialogue with the film’s cinematographer, Nick Proferes.

To get to the bottom of the matter, I consulted Proferes directly. He told me that Wanda had been shot on a 16 mm Auricon hand-modified by none other than D. A. Pennebaker to a wider aspect ratio. In those days Super 16 was coming into popularity as a low-budget option that offered a wider aspect ratio, 1.66, when blown up to 35 mm for theatrical exhibition. Rather than re-outfit his company with Super 16 gear, Pennebaker literally hand-filed his camera’s aperture plates to something near 1.66 for the shooting of his concert film Sweet Toronto.

Yet I had the original camera rolls in my hands, and it was clearly 1.33, on double perf stock that would have precluded a 1.66 or Super-16 shoot. To be sure I wasn’t delusional I also checked with Pennebaker himself, who said quite certainly that Proferes hadn’t used one of his modified Auricons on Wanda. My guess is Nick used it on another, later film.

1/4

In this slideshow, one can compare 1.33 and 1.66 versions of the same shots. The 1.33:1 samples are scanned from the restoration blow-up internegative, and the 1.66:1 samples are from a prior DVD release, which was transferred from an old internegative. The samples illustrate how Wanda was shot safely for both aspect ratios. While the majority of the film has headroom suggesting widescreen intent, problematic moments arise. Note as well the qualitative difference between the sources. Both are only one printing generation away from the original 16 mm reversal camera rolls, but the restoration negative has substantially finer tonal detail. The old internegative also exhibits color pollution in its grain pattern.

The above shot is in 1.33:1—classical composition with Barbara Loden’s head vertically centered and fully depicted.

2/4

1.66:1—cropped. 1.66 framing was likely intended (and successful) due to the vertical frame level of Loden’s eyes and her position frame right, but the shot is less balanced than the 1.33.

3/4

1.33:1—Loden is fully framed within the shot.

4/4

1.66:1—cropped, with Loden’s head cut off. This shot features extensive motion that the camera tracks, but due to the unpredictability of action, it occasionally loses track of important compositional details. It’s still successful at 1.66, as the pillow in Loden’s shirt and Michael Higgins are the intended points of emphasis, but the framing results in a slightly distracting awkwardness.

The question returns then: how should one frame it? In looking closely at Wanda, it became apparent that all ratios worked well. My ultimate assessment was that Profores shot Wanda with both Academy format and widescreen exhibition in mind, as was sometimes done at the time. But none of the ratios worked for the whole movie. Virtually all shots had plenty of headroom and are most pleasing at 1.66, suggesting widescreen intentions—but there were moments of exception where both 1.85 and 1.66 proved problematic. To do the highest quality widescreen release in either of those formats would have required numerous framing “repos,” or re-positionings—something Loden hadn’t done at the time. In its native 1.33, many shots had copious headroom, but also a kind of classicism, with no invasive boom mikes. Further, Nick told me he had no widescreen guides in his viewfinder, so the camera’s 1.33 frame was his only visible guide while shooting.

At the time of the restoration, our workflow itself dictated which ratio we would choose. The project mandated true archival preservation to 35 mm film, and to save all picture information. We thus opted for a 1.33 preservation negative to make sure nothing was lost. That method prohibited repos, so our “safe” recommended projection aspect ratio was the classic 1.37/Academy ratio. Projectionists and venues could of course opt to vary from that if they so chose, by simply changing their projector plates.

The restoration premiered at the Museum of Modern Art in 2010. Nick was one of the guests and confirmed he thought the Academy ratio worked wonderfully. Our choice was in a sense validated years after the restoration was completed, when I came across an earlier interview with Nick. In the 1991 documentary I Am Wanda, he clearly states, “we had no idea of blowing it up.” Was this prior memory more accurate than his later one? It seems likely, but in the end the images tell their own story . . . and with so many conflicting accounts, I like to think the jury will always be out.

The MoMA screening was a huge success, with lines around the block, Sofia Coppola introducing, and—so I heard—Madonna incognito in the audience. Years later, we digitized the film for TCM at Modern VideoFilm with ace colorist Gregg Garvin, and I was delighted when Criterion picked it up for distribution in 2018.

Nowadays it’s common to digitize but rarer to complete photochemical stages of restoration. Wanda’s restoration journey was hence fortunate to encompass both analog and digital editions. The current release retains the Academy aspect ratio and color grading, but has, happily, applied further digital cleanup, eliminating excess dirt and scratches we’d been unable to address in our earlier work.

Today the film looks better than ever. It belies the oversimplified maxim that a restoration must look like the old viewing prints rather than its source, a notion that holds better for Hollywood titles than independent works. The film is now recognized as an American classic. Tracing Wanda’s trajectory, from its original release in shoddy prints, to the 2010 35 mm restoration that brought it back, to the Criterion digital release today, is to see a lost masterpiece arise from a fog.

All images courtesy of Marco Joachim, UCLA Film and Television Archive, and The Film Foundation/Gucci.

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