Restored Print of Ousmane Sembène's 1966 Classic 'La Noire de…' ('Black Girl') to Screen as NYFF Revival

Tambay A. Obenson

8/21/2015 12:00:00 AM
A newly-restored print of Ousmane Sembène's 1966 classic "La Noire de…" ("Black Girl") has been announced as an official selection of the Film Society of Lincoln Center's lineup for Special Events and Revivals taking place during the 53rd New York Film Festival (NYFF), September 25 – October 11. The Revivals selections includes 11 international masterpieces from renowned filmmakers whose diverse and eclectic works have been digitally remastered, restored, and preserved with the assistance of generous partners, including Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, celebrating its 25th anniversary.

The print was restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, in collaboration with the Sembène Estate, Institut National de l’Audiovisuel, INA, Eclair Laboratories and the Centre national du cinéma et de l’image animée, CNC.

Films restored by the Film Foundation will eventually be redistributed in theaters, on DVD, Blu-Ray or VOD.

At the center of "Black Girl" is Senegalese maid Diouana's plight in Southern France, as it unfolds almost like a documentary, capturing the everyday mundanities of her monotonous life, and the resulting mental anguish she suffers, leading to the film's tragic conclusion. 

Underneath the deceptively simple story of a Senegalese maid (played by the lovely Mbissine Thérèse Diop), and her relationship with the white French couple she works for, reveals a film rich with symbolism and complexities that are essentially reactions to, and analysis of, the cultural legacy of colonialism - a recurrent theme you'll find in much of Sembène's work, as well as commentary on the untapped strength and abilities of African women.

A restored print of the film is more than welcomed, and I'm sure it'll continue to travel.

Other film masters of yesteryear whose restored works will be feted in the festival's Revivals section this year include Akira Kurosawa, Brian De Palma, Hou Hsiao-hsien, King Hu, Manoel de Oliveira, and more.

Visit for more.


Gaga, Gyllenhaal, Fonda And Others Help Hollywood Foreign Press Assn. Give Away $2 Million And Kick Off Awards Season

Pete Hammond

8/14/2015 10:00:00 AM

Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual Grants Banquet, held Thursday night at the Beverly Wilshire, handed out more than $2 million to non-profit entertainment-related organizations and scholarship programs, and had some in the room proclaiming it as the unofficial start of the movie and television awards season.

The annual August event shows off the HFPA’s philanthropic side but also allows a parade of stars — many of whom will have films or TV shows in the race for Golden Globes — to stand on stage accepting grants that make the organization look very good.  Publicists like this kind of showcase in a room full of Globe voters and this year was no exception. In fact I am told the response from celebrities who wanted to be a part of the evening was bigger than ever, with some potential “accepters” having to be turned down.  Among the possible awards contenders participating this year were Brie Larson (Room), Bryan Cranston (Trumbo), Jane Fonda (Youth), Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro (Sicario), Jake Gyllenhaal (Southpaw),  Ice Cube and son O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Saoirse Ronan (Brooklyn),  Sarah Silverman (I Smile Back), Allison Janney (Mom), Andrew Garfield (99 Homes), Elizabeth Banks (Pitch Perfect 2, Love And Mercy), Dakota Johnson (Black Mass) and on and on in a list that also included  Halle Berry, Jon HammLady Gaga and Jamie Lee Curtis.

Curtis (star of the new series Scream Queens) opened the proceedings (after a song from Nick Jonas and greetings from new HFPA president Lorenzo Soria) by saying what a great time she was having. “This is fun. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association is slightly older than me. We’ve grown up together. We’ve matured, deepened, found our voice… This is a confluence of art and commerce, showoff business…We’re going to give away f*****g two million dollars tonight,” she exclaimed before accepting three grants for various children’s charities including Childrens Hospital Of Los Angeles and St. Judes. Curtis also remembered the late Nadia Bronson, announcing a naming in her honor at the USC Annenberg School Of Public Relations. Berry announced she was going to turn 49 on Friday and accepted a grant for Film Aid and Global Girl Media.

Soria pointed out the HFPA has been handing out this money, cadged largely through proceeds from NBC’s telecast of the Globe awards every January, for over two decades. “We have changed many lives. People say ‘you do what with your money?’ Well yes, we do,” he said, adding that the contributions they have made — totaling nearly $20 million in the past — also have funded the restoration of 94 films and this year includes a donation to Los Angeles City College that will finance the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Center For Cinema and the Arts to be built on that campus.

Lady Gaga, looking great, came on to present grants to “the next generation of musicians and actors” including the Young Musicians Foundation and the Music Center Spotlight Program. HFPA members I spoke to seemed the most thrilled to have her at this party. But does she also possibly have a project this year that might be considered for Golden Globes later on? She is in the upcoming season of American Horror Story  but it wasmovie speculation that was swirling (as it has on the Internet) that Gaga may be providing the next iconic theme song for a Bond film, and that would be for the upcoming November release SPECTRE. Hey, it worked out for Adele, who won an Oscar and a Globe for her Bond song Skyfall. Nothing has been announced yet so it was just idle rumor, but sometimes these events can offer clues in the awards game.

Fonda, so great in about just seven minutes on screen in the Fox Searchlight December release Youth, got laughs after accepting a grant to the Sundance Film Institute on behalf of her one time co-star and friend Robert Redford, when she introduced the next presenters Blunt and Del Toro, who appeared to be no-shows — leaving Fonda alone on stage to ad lib a well-pointed zinger at their expense: “Benicio looks unreliable, but Emily Blunt looks like she’d be on time. If she can stand up to Meryl Streep, she can make it to the podium when she is announced,” Fonda said, referring to Blunt’s most recent film with Streep, Into The Woods. Eventually the pair got there but completely stumbled through their presentation, unable to clearly read the prompter.

They weren’t alone. Gyllenhaal tried to blunt the potential of his screwing up his acceptance of a $350,000 grant for the Film Foundation/UCLA Film & Television Archive, by declaring he is “legally blind without his contacts.” Nevertheless he got through it, announcing that with the money there would be much needed restorations of La Strada, Jules And Jim and Hans Christian Anderson, which he said he recently watched with his three year old niece. Ice Cube and son, clearly riding high from the critical reception being enjoyed by Straight Outta Compton, joked that Universal originally wanted to title the film 50 Shades Of Dre before accepting grants on behalf of Ghetto Film School and Inner City Arts among others. U’s high flying Donna Langley also made the scene, briefly circling the pre-banquet reception. Fox Searchlight’s Nancy Utley was there too, as was Paramount’s Rob Moore, whose studio is light on awards contenders this year (though Utley has the aforementioned Youth and Brooklyn).

Sony’s Tom Rothman was another studio boss in attendance, continuing to tout to me the studio’s upcoming The Walk, which will open the New York Film Festival. He seems higher on this film than the movie’s subject Phillipe Petit was crossing a tightrope between the World Trade Center twin towers. “This movie is pure Robert Zemeckis at his best,” he said.

Lionsgate’s Patrick Wachsberger and Rob Friedman turned up as well to support Sicario, but I took the opportunity to congratulate Friedman on releasing the brilliant Aardman animated Shaun The Sheep Movie, which didn’t exactly burn up the box office over the weekend, but should have. “It’s done much better during the week,” Friedman said. Hopefully the HFPA will give it an animated feature nomination.

New players in the awards game were also on hand, including execs from Broad Green Pictures and A24, which both hope to gain some traction this season.

Lots of awards talk in this room even in the middle of August, but Venice, Telluride and Toronto are just around the corner so maybe the HFPA really did just kick it all off.

Here is the complete list of organizations receiving the HFPA grants:


  • California Institute for the Arts (CalArts) – $60,000
  • Cal State Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation – $15,000
  • Cal State Long Beach – $60,000
  • Cal State Los Angeles – $60,000
  • Cal State Northridge – $60,000
  • Columbia University – $60,000
  • Los Angeles City College – $25,000
  • Mt. San Antonio College Foundation – $5,000
  • New York University – $48,000
  • University of California, Los Angeles – $125,000


  • American Film Institute – $20,000
  • CalArts – $12,500
  • Cal State Fullerton – $5,000
  • Cal State Long Beach – $5,000
  • Cal State Los Angeles – $2,650
  • Cal State Northridge – $5,000
  • Columbia University – $20,000
  • Los Angeles City College – $4,000
  • Loyola Marymount – $20,000
  • Mt. San Antonio College Foundation – $5,000
  • New York University – $20,000
  • UCLA – $20,000
  • University of North Carolina – $5,000
  • University of Southern California            – $20,000
  • USC Annenberg School of Journalism – $100,000 over 5 years


  • Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment – $15,000
  • Film Independent, Project: Involve – $40,000
  • Independent Filmmaker Project (Brooklyn, NY) – $20,000
  • International Documentary Association – $10,000
  • Motion Picture & Television Fund – $10,000
  • New Filmmakers Los Angeles – $10,000
  • Screen Actors Guild Foundation – $10,000
  • Streetlights – $10,000
  • Women Make Movies – $10,000
  • Sundance Institute – $100,000


  • California State Summer School Arts Foundation – $25,000
  • Echo Park Film Center – $10,000
  • Ghetto Film School – $30,000
  • GlobalGirl Media – $10,000
  • Inner-City Arts (Downtown LA) – $30,000
  • Inner City Filmmakers (Santa Monica) – $30,000
  • Los Angeles County High School for the Arts – $25,000
  • Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles (Music Center) – $5,000


  • The Film Foundation, Inc./UCLA Film & Television Archive – $350,000
  • Film Noir Foundation- $25,000
  • Outfest (UCLA LGBT project) – $35,000


  • American Cinematheque – $45,000
  • American Film Institute – $30,000
  • FilmAid International – $60,000
  • Latin American Cinemateca of Los Angeles – $10,000
  • Library Foundation of Los Angeles – $10,000
  • Museum of the Moving Image – $10,000
  • Los Angeles Conservancy – $35,000
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art/Film – $125,000
  • San Francisco Silent Film Festival – $10,000
  • Toronto International Film Festival – $15,000
  • University of California, Berkeley Film Archive – $20,000
  • University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana (Ebertfest) – $10,000


  • Children’s Hospital – $25,000
  • St. Jude – $5,000
  • Ensemble Studio Theatre – $15,000
  • Gingold Theatre Group/Shaw Festival – $10,000
  • Lollipop Theater Network – $20,000
  • Pablove Foundation – $7,500
  • Young Musicians Foundation – $10,000
  • Young Storytellers Foundation – $10,000


  • CalArts – $58,672
  • Exceptional Minds – $15,000
  • LAUSD/USC Arts & Engineering Magnet – $25,000

Where Classic Films Go for a Cleanup

Ilaria Maria Sala

7/23/2015 12:00:00 AM

L’Immagine Ritrovata, the pioneering Italian film-restoration laboratory, opens a Hong Kong branch

If the Bruce Lee classic “The Way of the Dragon” or director Lino Brocka’s Philippine landmark “Maynila in the Claws of Light” look better than they once did, it’s thanks to the work of L’Immagine Ritrovata, the pioneering film-restoration laboratory attached to Italy’s Cineteca di Bologna. Last year the lab restored Chinese director Xie Jin’s “Stage Sisters,” 50 years after its 1964 release, at the request of the Shanghai International Film Festival.

“Some Asian countries are realizing now that film heritage cannot be taken for granted,” said lab director Davide Pozzi. “Old movies are highly perishable, especially if they are not kept at optimal temperature and humidity conditions. Once you lose it, it is gone forever.”

So it’s fitting that the laboratory, whose name means “the recovered image,” has chosen Hong Kong as the site of its first international branch. It also makes business sense. About 30% of the lab’s customers come from Asia, Mr. Pozzi said, and for those not just in Hong Kong or China, but also in the Philippines, Indonesia, Singapore and Taiwan, sending old movie films to Hong Kong rather than Italy will mean substantially lower shipping and insurance costs.

Cineteca means “film library,” and the Cineteca di Bologna, which was founded in 1962 and which established L’Immagine Ritrovata in 1992, defines its mission broadly, encompassing promotion, training and research, as well as the specialties of the lab, conservation and restoration. L’Immagine Ritrovata’s experience and expertise set it apart; according to Mr. Pozzi, it is the only laboratory in the world that exclusively does film restoration. But the animating spirit that truly differentiates this enterprise from a purely commercial laboratory is a passion for movies, old and new.

“Every other year we host a three-week intensive film-restoration course in Bologna, which attracts students from all over the world,” Mr. Pozzi said. In years when there is no course in Bologna, the lab offers a one-week intensive workshop at different locations around the world, in conjunction with The Film Foundation, founded by Martin Scorsese.

“We had one in Mumbai this year and in Singapore in 2013, and we would like to hold one in Hong Kong, too, in the future,” said Mr. Pozzi.

The restoration process has three main segments. In the first, which will now be done by the Hong Kong laboratory, located in Kwun Tong, the film is put through a “washing machine” that gives it its first cleanse, after which both the audio and the visual components are digitized.

“Then, once everything has been stored into files, we can start the digital restoration, which can take a long time,” Mr. Pozzi said. “We finished work on Luchino Visconti’s ‘Rocco and His Brothers’ this year, for example, after 24,000 hours of restoration work.”

Finally comes the third stage—color correction, finalizing and support preparation. In the end, a once-fragile film emerges as a resilient, and easily reproduced, digital file.

“It is a good time to be doing something like this,” Mr. Pozzi said about expanding the lab’s digital-restoration capabilities. “On one hand, the technology has stabilized somewhat, which means you can invest in good machinery without the need to upgrade every year. And the momentum for preserving one’s country’s cinematic heritage has really been building up in Asia, too.”


57 Films To Be Saved Through the NFPF’s 2015 Preservation Grants

National Film Preservation Foundation

6/4/2015 12:00:00 AM

From an animated plea for peace by director Frank Tashlin to early color home movies of President Herbert Hoover and his family, the NFPF is excited to announce the most recent crop of films slated for preservation through its federally funded grant program. All together 57 films will be preserved by 32 institutions across 21 states.

Among the award winners is Jessie Maple’s 1989 independent feature Twice as Nice, which will be preserved by the Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University. Maple took up filmmaking in the early 1970s, honing her craft at training schools and as an apprentice editor on two films by Gordon Parks. In 1975 she became the first African American woman member of the IATSE. With her husband LeRoy Patton, she founded LJ Film Productions where they produced socially engaged documentaries. Her first narrative film Will, made in 1981, was preserved by the Black Film Center/Archive in 2008.

“Jessie Maple’s second fiction feature film, Twice as Nice, was the creation of many strong, talented women. It tells the tale of basketball playing twin sisters in the days before the WNBA and uses real-life locations and nonprofessional actors to realize the screenplay by Saundra Pearl Sharp, the poet and actress who co-founded the Black Anti-Defamation Coalition,” said Brian Graney, Archivist and Head of Public Technology Services who will supervise the project. “We can’t wait to share it with new audiences.”

Named to the National Film Registry in 2014, The Way of Peace (1947) is also set to be preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive. Directing the film was long-time Warner Brothers animator Frank Tashlin, before he made the leap to live action feature filmmaking and his notable work with Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis and many others. Reverend H.K. Rasbach served as the technical supervisor—he went on to advise Cecil B. DeMille on The Ten Commandments (1956) and George Stevens on The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). Special effects pioneer Wah Ming Chang, who later influenced generations of science fiction films and television through his designs on Star Trek, created the puppets for the film.

Also heading to film laboratories where new negatives, film prints, and digital access copies will be created are Ambassadors in Levis (ca. 1970), about the Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus; Czechoslovakia: Portrait of a Tragedy (1968), an American documentary shot during the Prague Spring and featuring an interview with Vaclav Havel; corporate films of the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance Company, for many years the only African-American owned corporation in California; the first student works by experimental animator Frank Mouris, whose Frank Film won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 1974; The Trisha Brown Dance Company’s performance of Roof Piece, filmed by Babette Mangolte in 1973; a group of films made by Jud Yalkut, the late pioneer of fusing film and video technology; and home movies of the 1944 Republican National Convention, Winston Churchill in Cuba, and the Santa Fe Fiesta. For a full list, click here.

These grants are made available thanks to the Library of Congress. Since its creation by Congress in 1996, the NFPF has provided preservation support to 276 institutions and saved more than 2,223 films through grants and collaborative projects.



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