Group's rescue of old films preserves glimpse into past

Terry Mikesell

2/23/2017 5:00:00 AM

Want to see an older movie?

Good luck with that.

Film archivists have estimated that half of all American films made before 1950 and more than 90 percent of films made before 1929 are lost forever.

The Film Foundation, established in 1990 in New York by director Martin Scorsese, has taken a leadership role in the restoration and preservation of films.

"I've seen the power that film has to bring people together in the shared, communal experience of moviegoing," foundation Executive Director Margaret Bodde said. "It's been a lifelong passion dedicated to making sure that films from the past survive so that future generations can be inspired by these great works and have a unique and vivid window into history."

Bodde will discuss the work of the foundation at 7 p.m. Friday at the Wexner Center for the Arts as part of the series "Cinema Revival: A Festival of Film Restoration." Afterward, the Cuban film "Memories of Underdevelopment" (1968), which was restored as part of the foundation's World Cinema program, will be screened.

During its 27-year history, the foundation has saved more than 750 movies. Many of those dated to pre-1949, when movies were made on volatile nitrate film stock that was easily combustible, emitted toxic fumes and degraded without proper storage. Such film also contained silver — so many works were destroyed to recover the precious metal.

In 1949, acetate-based "safety" film was created, eliminating the danger of fires. Degradation, however, remained a problem.

The introduction of the foundation, with Scorsese at the helm, drew attention to the issue.

"While there have always been film archives, people got a greater sense of how our film heritage was literally disappearing," said David Filipi, director of film/video for the Wexner Center. "It was turning to nitrate dust in film cans all over the world.

"The Film Foundation is leading the worldwide cause of film restoration and preservation."

The foundation doesn't physically restore the films, Bodde said. It raises money for restoration and preservation projects and assists with logistics.

"We fund the projects, but we also try to help secure elements. We're actively involved with the projects."

When a film is restored in the traditional way and preserved, she said, a new master is archived in its original format.

"Photochemically, you wind up with a new negative on current, stable film stock and a print on current, stable film stock," Bodde said. "We always want to preserve the original materials; they're put into super-cold storage."

Digitally made films are restored into a digital format for archiving; if possible, a film version is also made, Bodde said.

Whether these formats will be useful in the future remains to be seen; just ask anybody with a shelf full of movies on VHS tapes.

"It's a really challenging time because of the constant changing of digital formats for film capture and film storage," Bodde said. "We have to constantly adapt to our knowledge that we're gaining as time goes by with how best to preserve digital work. That's a big issue for archivists: What's the best format for those to preserve digital?"

The foundation is committed to preserving all genres, she said.

"The need is so great for noncommercial works, like documentary or avant-garde or newsreel footage. We want to make sure we're preserving and representing the whole range in filmmaking styles and genres, and going to where the need is the greatest."

Plus, old movies have historical value.

"When we look back at a Buster Keaton or Charlie Chaplin film, or newsreel footage from the turn of century, we see how people moved, how they dressed and how they interacted," Bodde said. "It's a rare and treasured window into the past."

Besides "Memories of Underdevelopment," the Film Foundation will screen "Beat the Devil" (1953), starring Humphrey Bogart and Jennifer Jones, during Cinema Revival. Such screenings are part of the Film Foundation's mission.

"Preservation and restoration are really one side of a coin," Bodde said. "The other side is exhibition and access.

"The purpose of preservation and restoration are so people can see those films or maybe discover them in 20 years. New generations have access to the films because of the work we're doing now."

Commercial value doesn't enter into the foundation's decisions; what's publicly ignored now might have value years later.

Bodde cited "Vertigo," a movie that she said was a bust when it was released in 1958. In 2012, "Vertigo" was named the greatest movie ever made in a poll by Sight and Sound magazine.

"You try to have a long perspective," she said. "Something that may seem like it's a little undervalued today, that may change. What we try to do it balance the budget and scarcity of materials and the cultural and artistic value of the material, whether it's a feature film, a documentary or newsreel footage.

"If something is really unique and it's the only element known to be available, the onus, I feel, is on us to make sure it's well taken care of."


Wes Anderson’s ‘Isle of Dogs’ Crowdfunding Campaign Raises Over $250k for Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation

Graham Winfrey

2/20/2017 10:00:00 AM

Anderson raised the money through Crowdrise, the crowdfunding company co-founded by Edward Norton.

Wes Anderson has scored a major win for the cause of film preservation, raising more than a quarter of a million dollars for Martin Scorsese’s The Film Foundation. In December, Anderson released a video that announced his latest project, the stop-motion animation film “Isle of Dogs,” and also invited people to donate money to a campaign hosted by Crowdrise, the crowdfunding company co-founded by Anderson’s friend and frequent collaborator, Edward Norton. The campaign ended last week.

Among the prizes offered to donors were a trip for two to London for two nights to meet the director, get a tour of the “Isle of Dogs” sets and production and even record the voice of a dog in the film. “Barking, howling and whimpering may be required,” the campaign specified. Other prizes included signed Criterion Collection DVDs and copies of “The Wes Anderson Collection” book, written by Matt Zoller-Seitz.​​​​​​

Anderson’s crowdfunding campaign had no specific fundraising target, as Crowdrise doesn’t require organizers to set a funding goal. Unlike Kickstarter and Indiegogo, the company focuses on raising money for charitable donations.

Wes Anderson from Crowdrise on Vimeo.

The money raised through Crowdrise will help The Film Foundation restore more of the films that have applied to be preserved. The organization receives around 200 requests per year to restore individual films, but can typically only afford to take on around 25 percent of the films submitted. Founded by Scorsese in 1990 with the help of filmmakers including Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg, the non-profit organization has helped restore around 700 films.

In addition to raising money, Anderson’s campaign also helped spread awareness of the cause of film preservation generally, The Film Foundation’s executive director Margaret Bodde told IndieWire.

“People who are fans of Wes Anderson might not have been aware of film preservation as an important cause,” Bodde said. “You can open a can of film that hasn’t been properly stored and it’s literally a jellied material that will start melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.”

READ MORE: Wes Anderson Officially Announces New Film ‘Isle of Dogs,’ Along with Cast and First Brief Clip — Watch

Fox Searchlight will distribute “Isle of Dogs,” which is currently in production and is being produced by Indian Paintbrush. The film is set in Japan and follows a boy’s odyssey in search of his dog. It is Anderson’s second animated feature following 2009’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.”


The final selections for the Berlinale Classics section – classics by Woody Allen, James Cameron, James Ivory and George A. Romero on the big screen

1/19/2017 12:00:00 AM

Five of the seven restored versions screening in Berlinale Classics will be celebrating their world premiere in Berlin. In addition to the films from Germany, Israel and Mexico (see press release from December 12, 2016), the section will include four additional restored versions of international classics, by Woody Allen, James Cameron, James Ivory and George A. Romero.

© 1991 STUDIOCANAL. All rights reserved

Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D by James Cameron

Arnold Schwarzenegger is back. In new, three-dimensional form, the T-800 returns to the big screen. DMG Entertainment and Studiocanal, working with James Cameron and his production company Lightstorm Entertainment, initiated the restoration and 3D conversion of Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D (USA, 1991/2017). In the science-fiction classic, an android played by Arnold Schwarzenegger travels back through time to save from assassination the future leader in the human battle against the machines. To create the new version, the original negative was scanned in 4K at Deluxe LA and then digitally processed by Technicolor Hollywood, while StereoD undertook the conversion to 3D. Studiocanal will release the new, digitally restored 3D version of the film, which won four Oscars in 1992, theatrically. All the restoration work was personally supervised by director James Cameron and his team.


“Famous for its one-liners, Terminator 2: Judgment Day set a new bar for special effects and became a cult film. We’re very pleased to be celebrating the release of the new 3D version of the classic here in Berlin”, says Rainer Rother, head of the Retrospective section and artistic director of the Deutsche Kinemathek.

© Image Ten Inc.

Night of the Living Dead by George A. Romero

George A. Romero’s black-and-white film Night of the Living Dead (USA, 1968) is considered a milestone and a classic of the horror genre. The film is about a group of diverse personalities who barricade themselves into a secluded house in Pennsylvania to fend off an attack by a growing number of zombies. The impetus for the restoration was when the film’s Image Ten partners, Gary and Russell Streiner, donated the original camera negative to The Museum of Modern Art in New York. It was scanned in 4K by Cineric for digital processing and audio restoration was done by Audio Mechanics in Burbank. Night of the Living Dead was restored under the aegis of The Museum of Modern Art, New York and The Film Foundation, with funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation and the Celeste Bartos Preservation Fund.

Quelle: Cohen Media Group, LLC

Maurice by James Ivory

Maurice (UK, 1987) won three awards at the 1987 Venice Film Festival – for director James Ivory, and the lead actors James Wilby and Hugh Grant. The film is based on the eponymous book by E.M. Forster and tells the story of a homosexual attraction. At the centre of the tale is young Cambridge graduate Maurice Hall, who must fight to realise his dreams in the puritanical England of the early 20th century. The restoration, by the Cohen Media Group, used a 4K scan of the original camera negative. Director James Ivory gave the nod to the digitally restored version of his film, and cinematographer Pierre Lhomme supervised the colour correction.

© Courtesy of Park Circus / MGM

Annie Hall by Woody Allen

Annie Hall (USA, 1977), Woody Allen’s world-renowned comedy, which won four Oscars, is now available in a digitally restored theatrical version. In this semi-autobiographical tale, Allen plays the neurotic stand-up comedian Alvy Singer who occasionally talks directly to the audience as he relates the story of his relationship with the title character, using flashbacks and moving around in time. The film was restored by Park Circus and MGM at Deluxe, Culver City. The 4K restoration, using the original camera negative, was supervised by Grover Crisp in co-operation with the office of Woody Allen.


The full programme of the Berlinale Classics section:


Annie Hall
By Woody Allen, USA 1977
World premiere of the digitally restored version 


Avanti Popolo
By Rafi Bukaee, Israel 1986
International premiere of the digitally restored version 


By Felipe Cazals, Mexico 1976
World premiere of the digitally restored version 


By James Ivory, UK 1987
World premiere of the digitally restored version 


Night of the Living Dead
By George A. Romero, USA 1968
International premiere of the digitally restored version 


Schwarzer Kies (Black Gravel)
By Helmut Käutner, West Germany 1961
World premiere of the digital version 


Terminator 2: Judgment Day 3D 
By James Cameron 
World premiere of the digitally restored version 


Press Office
January 19, 2017


Wes Anderson Announces Cast of His Film ‘Isle of Dogs’

Dave McNary

12/21/2016 12:00:00 AM

Wes Anderson posted a video on Monday to formally announce the large voice cast for his upcoming animated movie “Isle of Dogs.”

The cast includes many of the usual suspects, as well as some unexpected names: Scarlett Johansson, Bill Murray, Edward Norton, Bob Balaban, Tilda Swinton, Frances McDormand, Bryan Cranston, Jeff Goldblum, F. Murray Abraham, Harvey Keitel, Akira Ito, Akira Takayama, Koyu Rankin, Courtney B. Vance, Liev Schreiber and Yoko Ono round out the ensemble.

 “Isle of Dogs” is Anderson’s first film since 2014’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” and his second foray into animation after 2009’s “Fantastic Mr. Fox.” The director’s video announced the cast, confirmed the title and included an appearance from Norton in the background.

Anderson gave a three-second sideways glimpse of Rex, the dog that Norton is voicing. The actor said in response, “I think it’s terrific.” Anderson did not reveal any of the plot details. Reports about the project began emerging late last year.

Production companies are Annapurna Pictures and Indian Paintbrush. The film has not yet been given a release date.

Anderson’s three-minute video also contains a fundraising pitch via a contest with proceeds going to the Film Foundation, Martin Scorsese’s film preservation organization. Anderson has teamed up with the Crowdrise platform for the contest. The winner will receive a trip to London to tour the set and voice a character. Entering the contest requires a $10 donation.

Watch Wes Anderson’s announcement below:





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