What Martin Scorsese’s Doing to Preserve India’s Film Archive

The Wall Street Journal India

2/23/2015 12:00:00 AM

India has one of the world’s most-prolific film industries but preserving its output for future generations of filmgoers is proving difficult.

“We have lost a colossal amount of our film heritage and we continue to lose some everyday,” says Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, award winning filmmaker and founder of the Mumbai-based Film Heritage Foundation. He has teamed up with Hollywood director Martin Scorsese’s nonprofit The Film Foundation and a film restoration laboratory based in Italy, to launch India’s first film restoration school.

“Cinema is an art form and a part of our cultural heritage that needs to be preserved. The aim of the school is to create passionate future archivists,” says Mr. Dungarpur.

The school opened on Sunday, with a week-long course with students from India, Bhutan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. “The reason we wanted to include these countries is because they all have film legacies that have been terribly neglected and will be lost to the world if they don’t start preserving their cinema,” says Mr. Dungarpur who has restored the film “Kalpana” and Sri Lankan film “Nidhaniya” in collaboration with the Scorcese foundation. The course will be organized in the Films Division headquarters in Mumbai as a pilot.

Lectures, presentations and practical classes on film preservation and restoration that will be conducted by leading international experts in the field.

There will also be daily screenings of a restored classic preceded by a talk on the restoration of the footage. “Each of the students will be given a film to be restored. One need not have technical knowledge of cinema for this, just the passion for it,” Mr. Dungarpur added.

The international faculty for the course includes Andrea Kalas, vice-president of the Paramount Pictures Archive, Lee Kline and Ryan Hullings who are working on the restoration of Satyajit Ray’s “Apu Trilogy,” Maciej Molewski who has restored some of Poland’s best-loved classics and Professor Ray Jiing, who started the film preservation movement in Taiwan.

Part of the idea behind the film preservation school is that movie preservation restoration in India is abysmal.

From the silent movie era, there are just five or six films available today.

“We have only one archive: the NFAI, Pune,” Mr. Dungarpur adds. “This serves the largest and one of the most diverse film industries in the world.”

But in a country where on an average 2,000 films are made a year, it is a mammoth task for any archive to preserve them all. “Add to that lack of funding, trained personnel and resources, and it becomes unmanageable,” he said.

In the recent past, most film laboratories in India have shut down their photochemical facilities along with the storage areas where some producers have traditionally kept their prints and negatives after release.

Mr. Dungarpur believes that a film represents an era, a period in history, time and space and the people who lived then and old movies are part of the future of the industry.

“The only way to move forward is by looking back,” he states.

The Wall Street Journal India



Berlinale Talents

1/21/2015 3:00:00 PM

Cracking open and reconfiguring notions of spatiality will be high on the agenda for this year’s edition of Berlinale Talents. Under the focus “2015: A Space Discovery”, the summit will host a star-studded cast of professionals to convene from February 7 to 12 at the HAU Hebbel am Ufer theatres in Berlin to discuss and work with the 300 invited Talents and public audiences.

To kick it all off, president of the International Jury Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan) and fellow jurors get the topic rolling with an in-depth discussion on how they have sculpted space in their own films. The panel “Road, Movie: Films in Motion” brings German director Sebastian Schipper from the Competition programme (Victoria) together with Walter Salles (On the Road). Both will keep track of their protagonists’ cinematic journeys through space and time. Bong Joon-Ho (Snowpiercer) and producer Lorna Tee (Postcards from the Zoo) talk about movies crossing the border from their local birthplaces to international audiences. Legendary German auteur Wim Wenders (Paris, Texas), this year's Berlinale Homage subject, takes the stage in a joint event with the Deutsche Kinemathek - Museum für Film und Fernsehen to shed light on his career which has spanned a multitude of genres, formats and continents. Director Ursula Meier (Sister), who presents a short film at this year’s Generation programme, grants insight into her relationships on set with actors of all ages.

In cooperation with Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg, German director Andreas Dresen, together with his longtime screenwriter Wolfgang Kohlhaase and best-selling book author Clemens Meyer, explores the short period 25 years ago when space in East Germany seemed unlimited and that is the setting for his Competition film As We Were Dreaming. Oscar®, Golden Globe and Grammy-winning composer Howard Shore (Maps To The Stars, The Lord of the Rings) will be on hand in Berlin to elaborate how a film's score and sound create spaces in which stories unfold.

Movie theaters from Beirut to Cairo, spaces for exhibiting films and bustling hubs of alternative culture, are in the limelight during the panel “Crossroads to Culture - Cinema(s) in the Arab World”. Also with focus on the Arab countries, Berlinale Talents will host the award ceremony for the “Film Prize of the Robert Bosch Stiftung for International Cooperation”. A truly intercontinental panel in cooperation with Berlinale NATIVe and the Federal Foreign Office delves into the cultural spaces of Africa, Latin America and India, in search of the roots of local storytelling traditions.

A discussion between director Joanna Hogg (Exhibition) and architect Matthias Sauerbruch explores how a house can become an actual character in a film and dictate human relations. Film choreographer Francesca Jaynes and puppeteer Mikey Brett (War Horse), both having worked with Sandra Bullock and George Clooney in Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity, will tackle how actors create movement in spaces beyond limits.

Several panels will focus on the power of film and filmmakers to influence and inspire social and political changes. Academy Award nominee Laura Poitras (Citizenfour) joins Berlinale Talents for an interactive webcam session on her role as a documentarist, while Joshua Oppenheimer (The Act of Killing) and Marcel Ophüls (The Memory of Justice) discuss the chosen ways of their films to look back into history and preserve cinematic spaces of remembrance. Together with Andy Bichlbaum and Mika Bonanno, better known as the activist duo The Yes Men, director Laura Nix (The Yes Men are Revolting) will discuss how guerrilla filmmaking and the weapons of humour can help hacking public and private spheres.

In partnership with Canon, Berlinale Talents offers an array of activities. Acclaimed DoP Peter Zeitlinger (Queen Of The Desert) will give a masterclass on his multiple collaborations with directors Werner Herzog and Ulrich Seidl. A two-day lightening and grading workshop with DoP Franz Lustig (How I Live) will focus on creating and defining cinematic space with the power of light. DoP Stefan Ciupek (127 Hours) and colourist Dirk Meier (Antichrist) will present their “Survival Guide to Digital Workflows”, discussing substantial details of working with the latest technologies.

More information at:

Berlinale Talents is an initiative of the Berlin International Film Festival, a business division of the Kulturveranstaltungen des Bundes in Berlin GmbH, funded by the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and the Media, in cooperation with Creative Europe MEDIA, a programme of the European Union, Robert Bosch Stiftung, Medienboard Berlin-Brandenburg and Canon.


Week-Long Theatrical Run for Mati Diop’s 'Thousand Suns' & Uncle Djbril Diop Mambéty’s 'Touki Bouki'

Tambay A. Obenson

1/20/2015 10:08:00 AM

In what will be a special week-long theatrical run at MoMA in NYC - for which the filmmaker, Mati Diop, will be present - two of her films ("Atlantiques" (2009) and "A Thousand Suns" (2013)) will be paired, along with the seminal 1972 film, "Touki Bouki," made by her uncle, the late Senegalese auteur, Djibril Diop Mambety. 

The week-long (January 20–27, 2015) run is a collaboration between MoMA and UniFrance Films, whose new initiative, Young French Cinema, promotes emerging French filmmakers in North America in partnership with the Cultural Services of the French Embassy.

"Touki Bouki" will also be shown 3 times over the course of the week-long theatrical run, in a new digital restoration by the World Cinema Foundation.

Meanwhile, Mati Diop's "Mille soleils" ("A Thousand Suns"), explores the legacy of "Touki Bouki," as she journeys in search of her origins through the footprints left by the film her late uncle made, and along the way gets to know "Touki Bouki's" 2 main actors, 35 years later.

Based on his own story and script, Djibril Diop Mambéty reportedly made "Touki Bouki" with a $30,000 budget. Often compared to films of the French New Wave, Mambety puts his stamp on a film that incorporates stylistic flourishes that were considered uncharacteristic of most African films at the time. The film both highlights and struggles with the hybridization of Senegal.

There's an insolence that’s expressed in it, we could say, a freedom from formality, as well as a great sense of humor.

As his niece Mati Diop has insisted, it’s also the film where her uncle reveals himself the most.

Her exploration of "Touki Bouki" is an interesting, worthwhile watch. I don't believe a documentary has ever been made that celebrates the film, and considers its legacy, given its significance in African cinema history.

It's a film (and I could name several others) that really deserves its proper restoration and re-release in HD, preserving, but also reintroducing it to new generations, and those who are just not aware of it.

Mati Diop studied at Le Fresnoy (National Studio of Contemporary Arts) and Le Pavillon (an art residency of the Palais de Tokyo). Her films have screened worldwide to acclaim.

If you'll be in NYC this week, from January 20–27, 2015, add this week-long run to your calendar.

Check out the list of screening days and times for each film here.



Park Circus

1/15/2015 12:00:00 PM

Spectacular new 4K restoration reissued in the UK, 27 February.

Newly restored in 4K by The Film Foundation and BFI National Archive in association with STUDIOCANAL, The Tales of Hoffmann returns to cinemas on 27 February, opening at BFI Southbank and selected sites nationwide. Rendering Jacques Offenbach's fantastical opera in vivid Technicolor, The Tales of Hoffmann represents the culmination of Powell and Pressburger's experimentation with the outer boundaries of an art form.

Told through sequences which combine dance, opera and film, The Tales of Hoffmann continues an aesthetic adventure that began three years previously with the release of The Red Shoes. Moira Shearer features prominently once again, playing various roles in this story of a Romantic poet's fraught quests for love and lust - and the depths of man's folly in pursuit of both.

The prologue to the tales takes place in the theatre of Nürnberg, where German Romanticist E.T.A. Hoffmann and his rival Councillor Lindorf both hope to meet Stella, the prima ballerina performing The Enchanted Butterfly. When Lindorf intercepts a token from Stella intended for Hoffmann, the poet retires to a nearby tavern, orders a drink and recounts three stories of romantic misadventure to the rowdy student clientele.

Moving from the fashionable boutiques of Paris to bacchanalian orgies in a nightmarish Venice, and from the naiveté of youth to the weight of experience, Hoffmann's stories combine to form three facets of their narrator's evolving struggle with true love.

The Tales of Hoffmann returns to cinemas on 27 February, opening at BFI Southbank and selected sites nationwide. The Tales of Hoffmann has been restored by The Film Foundation and the BFI National Archive in association with STUDIOCANAL. Restoration funding was provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, the Franco-American Cultural Fund, The Film Foundation, and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation.



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