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ALGERIA | 1975

CHRONICLE OF THE YEARS OF FIRE

WAQAI SANAWAT AL-DJAMR

Director: Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina

WRITTEN BY: Rachid Boudjedra, Tewfik Fares, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Marcello Gatti

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Philippe Arthuys

STARRING: Yorgo Voyagis (Ahmed), Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina (Milud), Leïla Shenna (moglie di Ahmed), Cheikh Nourredine (Si Larbi), Larbi Zekkal (Smaïl), Sid Ali Kouiret, Nadia Talbi, Taha El Amiri, Abdelhalim Rais, Brahim Hadjadj, Hassan El Hassani

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Algeria

LANGUAGE: Arabic and French with English subtitles

COLOR INFO: Color

RUNNING TIME: 177 minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: ONCIC (Office National Commerce Industrie Cinéma)

Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna at L’Image Retrouvée and L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratories. Restoration funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation.

This restoration is part of the African Film Heritage Project, created by The Film Foundation, FEPACI and UNESCO – in collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna – to help locate, restore, and disseminate African cinema.

 

I tried to recount, with dignity and nobility, this uprising that then became the Algerian Revolution, an uprising not only against the coloniser, but against a certain human condition. I wanted to avoid any kind of Manichaean, caricatural and demagogic approach, which risked turning Waqai sanawat al-djamr into a sort of Western; good against evil, Algerians against French. What guided me was the quest for honesty: I looked inside myself for the honesty of a child, the eyes of the child I once was, the memories of my childhood. […] It would be a serious mistake to distinguish Algerian Cinema, the cinema of the Maghreb, from African Cinema. The cinema of the Third World is one – the Arab World, Africa, Latin America, the Middle East, Asia – as we share the same motivations, the same difficulties, and a common destiny, on an artistic level and on an expressive level. We have suffered hunger and thirst. We will reclaim our image.

Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina, interviewed by Claude Dupont, “Cahiers de la cinémathèque”,

Summer 1975


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

Restored in 4K from the original camera and sound negatives and a first generation 35mm interpositive provided by the filmmaker.

Three different cuts exist of this film: upon Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina's wish, this restoration reconstructed the version that was awarded the Palme d'or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1975. 

The original camera negative, outtakes from the same element, and the interpositive were integrated to match a 35mm vintage print provided by the filmmaker as a reference. Color grading was supervised by Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamina.


ARGENTINA | 1939

PRISIONEROS DE LA TIERRA

Director: Mario Soffici

WRITTEN BY: Ulyses Petit de Murat, Darío Quiroga

EDITING: Gerardo Rinaldi, José de Nico

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Pablo Tabernero

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Lucio Demare

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Ralph Pappier

STARRING: Ángel Magaña (Esteban Podeley), Elisa Galvé (Andrea), Francisco Petrone (Köhner), Homero Cárpena, Raúl De Lange, Roberto Fugazot

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Argentina

LANGUAGE: Spanish and Guaranì with English subtitles

COLOR INFO: Black and White

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Pampa Films

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in association with the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducros Hicken with elements provided by the Cinémathèque Française and the Narodni Filmovy Archiv.

Funding provided by the George Lucas Family Foundation.


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

PRISIONEROS DE LA TIERRA was restored using the best existing elements: a first generation 35mm positive print held at La Cinémathèque française and a recently rediscovered third generation 35mm positive print preserved by the Narodni Filmovy Archiv. For its overall completeness and photographic quality, the first generation 35mm positive print was used to restore the image, while the third generation 35mm positive print was the primary source for sound restoration.

A 16mm dupe negative, provided by the Museo del Cine, has been also been studied and compared as a reference. Color grading was supervised by Paula Félix Didier, director of the Museo del Cine Pablo Ducros Hicken.


ARMENIA | 1969

SAYAT NOVA

COLOR OF POMEGRANATES, THE

Director: Sergei Parajanov

WRITTEN BY: Sergei Parajanov

EDITING: Maria Ponomarenko

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Suren Shakhbazian

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Tigran Mansurian

SOUND: Yuri Sayadyan

ART DIRECTOR: Stepan Andranikian, Mikhail Arakelian

STARRING: Sofiko Chiaureli (the Poet as a youth, the Poet’s Beloved, the Nun in White Lace, the Angel of the Resurrection, the Pantomime), Melkon Alekian (the Poet as a child), Vilen Galustian (the Poet as a monk), Georgi Gegechkori (the Poet in Old Age), Hovhannes (Onik) Minsasian (the King), Spartak Bagashvili (the Poet’s father), Medea Japaridze (the Poet’s mother), Grigori Margarian (Sayat Nova’s teacher)

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Armenia

LANGUAGE: Armenian

COLOR INFO: Color

RUNNING TIME: 77 minutes

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, in association with the National Cinema Centre of Armenia and Gosfilmofond of Russia. Restoration funded by the Material World Charitable Foundation.

And what about the fate of the picture now? Armenia showed this film, sent people to see it. I wouldn’t say that the people understand the picture, but they go as if to a celebration. […] Every layer of society is going – they sense their genes in the picture. It wasn’t the subject, it wasn’t the established canons of the fate of the poet – conflict with the tsar, conflict at court, the banishing of the poet from the palace, wordly life, the monastery – these were not the point of my scenario, but the colors, the accessories, the details, of the daily life that accompanied the poetry. Here I was trying to portray the art in life, rather than portray life in art. The other way around, so that art is reflected in life. […] The picture is very primitive in its structure: there was childhood, there was youth, there was love, there was the monastery, there were the stones. The beloved was a stone, the cell was the beloved, the beloved, her breast is glorified in verse, the rose is glorified in verse. Then there was the thought: my throat is dry, I am ill. The poet dies. Everything is so simple, clear, as in the fate of a great poet, an ashugh, a minstrel.
- Sergei Parajanov

 

Watching Sergei Parajanov’s The Color of Pomegranates, or Sayat Nova, is like opening a door and walking into another dimension, where time has stopped and beauty has been unleashed. On a very basic level, it’s a biography of the Armenian poet Sayat Nova, but before all else it’s a cinematic experience, and you come away remembering images, repeated expressive movements, costumes, objects, compositions, colors. Sayat Nova lived in the 18th century, but the look and movement of the film seem to have come out of the middle ages or an even earlier time: Parajanov’s cinematic tableaux feel like they’ve been carved in wood or stone, and the colors seem to have naturally materialized from the images over hundreds of years. There’s nothing else quite like this picture. For many years, it’s been a dream to see The Color of Pomegranates restored to the form originally intended by Parajanov. This restoration represents years of painstaking work by many people. As always, I would like to thank our colleagues and partners at the Cineteca di Bologna and L’Immagine Ritrovata as well as all the individuals and organizations who have supported this challenging project and dedicated an enormous amount of time and energy to preserve Parajanov’s oeuvre.
- Martin Scorsese


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

45 years after its Armenian release, the film is premiered at Cannes Classics in its restored version, as Parajanov originally conceived it. Both the Armenian (also known as “Parajanov’s cut”) and Russian (Sergei Yutkevic’s) versions have been preserved and restored. The restoration used the original camera negative preserved at Russia’s Gosfilmofond, as well as the 35mm dupe negative held by the National Cinema Centre of Armenia.

The original camera negative has been scanned in 4K by Gosfilmofond in Russia and restored by L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna. The sound restoration was made from the original magnetic track, preserved by Gosfilmofond, in addition to the Armenian reference print. A vintage print of the film, produced on Orwo stock and preserved by the Harvard Film Archive, was used as a reference for the grading phase.

The Russian version of The Color of Pomegranates has also been preserved for posterity.

Image: © Courtesy of the Parajanov Museum, Yerevan


BRAZIL | 1931

LIMITE

Director: Mário Peixoto

WRITTEN BY: Mário Peixoto

EDITING: Mário Peixoto

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Edgar Brazil

PRODUCER: Mário Peixoto

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Brutus Pedreira (themes from Satie, Debussy, Borodin, Stravinsky, Prokofiev)

ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Rui Costa

FROM: Cinemateca Brasileira, São Paulo

STARRING: Olga Breno (Woman #1); Taciana Rei (Woman #2); Carmen Santos (The Whore); Mario Peixoto (The Man at the cemetery); Brutus Pedreira (Man #2 and the pianist); Edgar Brazil (The Man asleep at the cinema); Faciana Rei; Raul Schnoor

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Brazil

LANGUAGE: Silent

COLOR INFO: Black and White

RUNNING TIME: 120 minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Cinédia

PRODUCER: Mário Peixoto

Restored in 2010 by the Cinemateca Brasileira and Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, Arquivo Mario Peixoto, Saulo Pereira de Mello, and Walter Salles.  Restoration funded by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways and Qatar Museum Authority. 

Limite does not intend to analyse. It shows. It projects itself as a tuning fork, a pitch, a resonance of time itself. –Mário Peixoto

Then came the revelation of Limite, the first and only film by 21-year-old director Mário Peixoto. This was a film of transcendent poetry and boundless imagination. Once again, I found myself in a state of shock, not only because of the film itself, which was made in 1931 and forgotten for many years, but also for the evidence it bore, that of our creative diversity. –Walter Salles


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

Restored by the World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna / L’Immagine Ritrovata Laboratory in collaboration with the Cinemateca Brasileira and Walter Salles.

Image: © Courtesy of Mário Peixoto Archive/ Cinemateca Brasileira


BRAZIL | 1981

PIXOTE

PIXOTE, A LEI DO MAIS FRACO

Director: Héctor Babenco

WRITTEN BY: Héctor Babenco, Jorge Durán

EDITING: Luiz Elias

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Rodolfo Sanchez

PRODUCER: Sylvia B. Naves, Paulo Francini, José Pinto

ART DIRECTOR: Clóvis Bueno

STARRING: Fernando Ramos da Silva (Pixote), Jorge Julião (Lilica), Gilberto Moura (Dito), Edilson Lino (Chico), Zenildo Oliveira Santos (Fumaça), Claudio Bernardo (Garatao), Israel Feres David (Roberto Pie de Plata), Jose Nilson Martin Dos Santos (Diego), Marília Pêra (Sueli)

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Brazil

LANGUAGE: Portuguese with English subtitles

COLOR INFO: Color

RUNNING TIME: 128 Minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Embrafilme, HB Filmes

PRODUCER: Sylvia B. Naves, Paulo Francini, José Pinto

Restored by The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Cineteca di Bologna at L'Immagine Ritrovata in association with HB Filmes, Cinemateca Brasileira, and JLS Facilitações Sonoras. Restoration funded by the George Lucas Family Foundation. 


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

Restored in 4K from the 35mm original camera negative and a first generation 35mm dupe negative preserved at the Cinemateca Brasileira. In order to minimize the overall presence of mold, particularly invasive in reels 3, 5 and 6, the camera negative was wet-gate scanned at 4K resolution and digital restoration required considerable efforts. Missing frames in three different shots of reel 3 were replaced using the internegative.

The recently rediscovered original magnetic soundtrack, also affected by mold, with the oxide peeling off the base, was carefully repaired by Beto Ferraz then digitized and restored by José Luiz Sasso (ABC), sound engineer for Hector Babenco in 1981. Final color grading was supervised by cinematographer Rodolfo Sánchez using a first generation vintage 35mm print as reference.


CUBA | 1968

LUCIA

Director: Humberto Solás

WRITTEN BY: Humberto Solás, Julio Garcia Espinosa, Nelson Rodríguez

EDITING: Nelson Rodríguez

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Jorge Herrera

PRODUCER: Raúl Canosa, Camilo Vives

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Pedro Garcia Espinosa, Roberto Miqueli

STARRING: 1895: Raquel Revuelta (Lucía); Eduardo Moure (Rafael); Idalia Anreus (Fernandina); 1932: Eslinda Nuñez (Lucía); Ramón Brito (Aldo); Flora Lautén (Flora); 196..: Adela Legrá (Lucía); Adolfo Llauradó (Tomás); Teté Vergara (Angelina)

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Cuba

LANGUAGE: Spanish

COLOR INFO: Black and White

RUNNING TIME: 160 minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC)

PRODUCER: Raúl Canosa, Camilo Vives

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). Restoration funded by Turner Classic Movies and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.


One of the abilities of cinema is to portray what a country is going through… it is about putting the country’s face on the screen, but it’s also about enlarging one’s vision of that specific place.
-- Walter Salles

ICAIC was born out of the victory of the Revolution. Those of us who were about to attempt to found a national film industry from scratch faced a set of problems that we had to resolve immediately. Our problem was a basic cultural dichotomy, as in Lenin’s thesis on national cultures. We had an elitist cultural tradition that represented the interests of the dominant class, and a more clandestine culture that had already received wide exposure; however, at some point, all artistic expression started to be converted into products of a consumer-oriented culture.

Because the elitist and the popular were so intimately tied, because petit bourgeois consciousness and influences from Europe and North America were so dominant, our general cultural panorama at the time of the Revolution was in fact a pretty desolate one. This was during the sixties, when the most important film movement was the French New Wave. Films like Alain Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour (1959) or Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’Avventura (1960) marked most of the subsequent decade. These influences alienated us from our indigenous cultural forms and from a more serious search for a kind of cultural expression consistent with national life and with the explosive dynamism of the Revolution. Yet this was a path we clearly had to travel. Anyone who picks up the tools of artistic activity for the first time is going to be vulnerable to outside influences.

With Lucía, I wanted to view our history in phases, to show how apparent frustrations and setbacks –such as the decade of the ’30s–led us to a higher stage of national life. Whenever you make a historical film, whether it’s set two decades or two centuries ago, you are referring to the present.

Lucía is not a film about women, it’s a film about society. But within society, I chose the most vulnerable character, the one who is more transcendentally affected at any given moment by contradictions and change.
-- Humberto Solás


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

The restoration of Lucía was made possible through the use of the original camera and sound negative and a third generation dupe negative provided by and preserved at the ICAIC.

The state of conservation of the negative was critical, due to advanced vinegar syndrome causing portions of the film stock to colliquate (melt) or stick together; the negative also appeared heavily warped and buckled, causing the image to lose focus throughout the film. Despite undergoing several weeks of drying and softening treatments, large portions of 8 (out of 18) reels could not be used. These sections were replaced with a second generation duplicate preserved by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv since
the film had been distributed in East Germany in the late 1960s.

All the elements were wet-scanned at a 4K resolution to eliminate or reduce heavy scratches and halos. Additional documentation was used to confirm that the film had been shot on two different film stocks–Orwo and Ilford–and graded according to the time-period depicted in the film. A previously unscreened vintage print preserved at the BFI National Archive was used as a reference.

The original soundtrack was in fairly good condition, with the exception of uneven and inconsistent background noise detected in
the mix which required careful dynamic noise reduction.


CUBA | 1968

MEMORIES OF UNDERDEVELOPMENT

MEMORIAS DEL SUBDESARROLLO

Director: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

WRITTEN BY: Tomás Gutiérrez Alea

EDITING: Nelson Rodríguez

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Ramón F. Suárez

PRODUCER: Miguel Mendoza

STARRING: Sergio Corrieri (Sergio Carmona Mendoyo), Daisy Granados (Elena), Eslinda Núñez (Noemi), Omar Valdés (Pablo), René de la Cruz (Elena’s brother)

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Cuba

LANGUAGE: Castilian with English an French subtitles

COLOR INFO: Black and White

RUNNING TIME: 97 minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematograficos (ICAIC)

PRODUCER: Miguel Mendoza

Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory in association with Instituto Cubano del Arte e Industria Cinematográficos (ICAIC). Restoration funded by The George Lucas Family Foundation and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.
 

I remember it as if it were yesterday. The film begins. A dizzying sound of drumbeats invades the movie theatre. Pulsating bodies take the screen. Dozens, hundreds of people, mostly blacks and mestizos, are dancing. Everything is movement and ecstasy. All of a sudden, gunshots ring out. A man lies on the ground - a lifeless body. Surrounding him, the deafening music and the rhythm continue. The beat is frenzied. The camera travels from face to face in the crowd until it stops at a young black woman. The frame freezes on her trance-lit face. 

Thus begins Memorias del subdesarrollo, and watching it was like a shock to me. The film navigated between different states - fiction and documentary, past and present, Africa and Europe. The dialectic narrative took the form of a collage, crafted with an uncommon conceptual and cinematographic rigor. Scenes from newsreels, historical fragments and magazine headlines mixed and collided. In Memorias del subdesarrollo, Alea proved that filmic precision and radical experimentation could go hand in hand. Nothing was random. Each image echoing in the following image, the whole greater than the sum of its parts. Until then, having spent part of my childhood in Europe, I had a better knowledge of Italian neorealism and the French new wave than I did of the cinematic currents in Latin America. I admired Rossellini and Visconti and the early films of Godard and Truffaut - and with good reason. On taking the camera to the streets and showing the faces and lives of ordinary people, the neorealists and the directors of the nouvelle vague had fomented a true ethical and aesthetic revolution in films. 

But Memorias del subdesarrollo carried with it something more. A point of view that was vigorous, original and, more importantly, pertained directly to us, Latin Americans. It was like a reverse angle - one that seemed more resonant to me than that which was prevalent in other latitudes.

- Walter Salles

 

I remember that soon after the Revolution, everybody (and I mean everybody) thought that our island could be transformed, from one moment to the next, into a sort of Switzerland of the Caribbean. We had everything we needed: the people, the weapons, the enthusiasm, and the opportunity to re-build our country from scratch. Only later did we understand that we were basically a farming country, that industrialization would take more time than we had hoped, and that our island was small, poor and underdeveloped. All of a sudden, everything that had once seemed within arm’s reach was further and further away. The new reality is a radical one. We don’t just need a new economy, new politics, a new society. We need a new way of thinking, and this will take longer. For now, we have to accept who we are and keep fighting, which brings me back to the concept of underdevelopment, but this time, of a moral and aesthetic nature. 

Every day, to build our society, we have to confront the type of people we despise: those who think they are the only custodians of the Revolution, who believe only they know socialist morality, and who have institutionalized mediocrity and provincialism. The bureaucrats, with or without a desk, who talk to our people as one does with children, telling us what to show them, how to address them. And since these bureaucrats believe that our people are not ready to know the whole truth, they are ashamed of them, and suffer from a national inferiority complex. I hope, with my film, to annoy, provoke and upset all of them.

- Tomás Gutiérrez Alea


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

The restoration of Memorias del Subdesarrollo was made possible through the use of the original camera and sound negative and a vintage duplicate positive provided and preserved by ICAIC.

The camera negative is affected overall by advanced vinegar syndrome – in particular where the duplicate negatives of archival footage are edited into the film – causing a consistent ‘halo’ on the image. Most of reel 3 was irreversibly crystallized and half of reel 4 was badly compromised by decay. The duplicate element was used to replace the image in those portions. The camera negative was scanned at 4K, using wet-gate only for the most problematic sections.

The dual bilateral variable area sound negative showed a poor photographic definition, resulting in a harsh and raspy sound, with noticeable image spread distortion. Scratches, dirt and dust on the emulsion caused heavy crackles and clicks during reproduction. Sound restoration was able to reduce these issues considerably.


EGYPT | 1969

ELOQUENT PEASANT, THE

SHAKAVI EL FLASH EL FASI

Director: Shadi Abdel Salam

WRITTEN BY: Shadi Abdel Salam

EDITING: Kamal Abou El Ella

STARRING: Ahmed Marei (Peasant); Ahmed Enan (The Great Stewart); Ahmed Hegazi (Thutenakht)

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Egypt

LANGUAGE: Arabic

COLOR INFO: Color

RUNNING TIME: 21 minutes

Restored in 2010 by Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, and the Egyptian Film Center. Restoration funded by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways and Qatar Museum Authority. 

Based on one of the major literary texts survived from the Middle Kingdom, the classical period of Egyptian literature, The Eloquent Peasant is a combination of a morality/folk tale and a poem. The events are set between 2160 and 2025 BC. When the peasant Khun-anup and his donkey stumble upon the lands of the noble Rensi, the peasant’s goods are confiscated and he’s unjustly accused of theft. The peasant petitions Rensi who is so taken by the peasant’s eloquence that he report his astonishing discovery to the king. The king realises the peasant has been wronged but delays judgement so as to he can hear more of his eloquence. The peasant makes a total of nine petitions until finally, his goods are returned.


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

The Eloquent Peasant has been restored using the original 35mm camera and sound negatives preserved at the Egyptian Film Center in Giza. The digital restoration produced a new 35 mm internegative. Special thanks to the Bibliotheca Alexandrina.

Image: © Courtesy of Egyptian Film Centre


EGYPT | 1969

AL MOMIA

NIGHT OF COUNTING THE YEARS, THE

Director: Shadi Abdel Salam

WRITTEN BY: Shadi Abdel Salam

EDITING: Kamal Abou El Ella

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Abdel Aziz Fahmi

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Mario Nascimbene

FROM: Egyptian Film Centre

STARRING: Ahmed Marei (Wannis), Ahmed Hegazi (Brother), Zouzou Hamdi El Hakim (Mother), Nadia Lofti (Zeena)

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Egypt

LANGUAGE: Arabic with French and English subtitles

COLOR INFO: Color

RUNNING TIME: 103 minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Egyptian General Cinema Organization

SET DESIGNER: Salah Marei

Restored in 2009 by Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, and the Egyptian Film Center. Restoration funded by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways, Qatar Museum Authority and the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.  

Momia, which is commonly and rightfully acknowledged as one of the greatest Egyptian films ever made, is based on a true story: in 1881, precious objects from the Tanite dynasty started turning up for sale, and it was discovered that the Horabat tribe had been secretly raiding the tombs of the Pharaohs in Thebes. A rich theme, and an astonishing piece of cinema. The picture was extremely difficult to see from the 70s onward. I managed screen a 16mm print which, like all the prints I’ve seen since, had gone magenta. Yet I still found it an entrancing and oddly moving experience, as did many others. I remember that Michael Powell was a great admirer. Momia has an extremely unusual tone – stately, poetic, with a powerful grasp of time and the sadness it carries. The carefully measured pace, the almost ceremonial movement of the camera, the desolate settings, the classical Arabic spoken on the soundtrack, the unsettling score by the great Italian composer Mario Nascimbene – they all work in perfect harmony and contribute to the feeling of fateful inevitability. Past and present, desecration and veneration, the urge to conquer death and the acceptance that we, and all we know, will turn to dust… a seemingly massive theme that the director, Shadi Abdel Salam, somehow manages to address, even emobody with his images. Are we obliged to plunder our heritage and everything our ancestors have held sacred in order to sustain ourselves for the present and the future? What exactly is our debt to the past? The picture has a sense of history like no other, and it’s not at all surprising that Roberto Rossellini agreed to lend his name to the project after reading the script. And in the end, the film is strangely, even hauntingly consoling – the eternal burial, the final understanding of who and what we are… am very excited that Shadi Abdel Salam’s masterpiece has been restored to original splendor. 
–Martin Scorsese, May 2009


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

The restoration of Al Momia used the original 35mm camera and sound negatives preserved at the Egyptian Film Center in Giza. The digital restoration produced a new 35mm internegative. The film was restored with the support the Egyptian Ministry of Culture.

Image: © Courtesy of Egyptian Film Centre


HUNGARY | 1939

TWO GIRLS ON THE STREET

KÉT LÁNY AZ UTCÁN

Director: André De Toth

WRITTEN BY: Tamás Emod, Rezsö Török

EDITING: Zoltán Kerényi

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Károly Vass

ADAPTED BY: André De Toth

PRODUCER: Béla Lévay

FROM: Hungarian National Film Archive

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gizella Langermann

STARRING: Bella Bordy (Torma Vica), Mária Tasnádi Fekete (Kártély Gyöngyi), Piroska Vaszary Pletyus (as Vaszary Piri), Gyula Csortos (Filc bácsi), Andor Ajtay, Csiszár István, Károly Kovács, Lali

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: Hungary

LANGUAGE: Hungarian with French and English subtitles

COLOR INFO: Black and White

RUNNING TIME: 85 minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Hunnia Filmgyár

PRODUCER: Béla Lévay

Restored in 2010 by Cineteca di Bologna/L'Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project and Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchívum. Restoration funded by Armani, Cartier, Qatar Airways and Qatar Museum Authority. 

André De Toth was a great filmmaker, we are indebted to him for a number of extraordinary films (dating back to his first Hungarian works) and many masterpieces. He fought to make ambitious films and refused to work under a studio contract, thus showing a rare desire for freedom […] One day, following a screening of Round Midnight, De Toth told me, “You made me cry. And it’s hard to cry when you only have one eye.” He comforted and supported me. He was never bitter, he would never have said something like: “Cinema was better when I was making films”. He remained curious, open-minded; he battled for the American Cinematheque on Hollywood Boulevard […] “We’re like passengers driving at full speed on the new highways of communication”, he wrote. “It’s the same road since 1895, only it’s slippier because of the sweat and the blood and with more cracks: each of them a broken dream. These past hundred years have been terrible, yet we’ve enjoyed every single minute of them. As long as this fever, this love for making films survives, nothing will ever change.” On his sets, one big sign read, “Drama should occur in front of the camera, not behind it”, another, “Technology will never replace brains and intelligence”.
(Bertrand Tavernier)


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

The restoration of Két Lány Az Utcán used the original 35mm camera and sound nitrate negatives preserved at the Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchívum (Hungarian National Film Archive). The digital restoration produced a new 35mm internegative.

Image: © Courtesy of Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchívum (Hungarian National Film Archive)


INDIA | 1973

River Called Titas, A

TITAS EKTI NADIR NAAM

Director: Ritwik Ghatak

WRITTEN BY: Advaita Malla Burman, Ritwik Ghatak

EDITING: Basheer Hussain

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Baby Islam

PRODUCER: Habibur Rahman Khan

MUSICAL DIRECTOR: Ustad Bahadur Khan

STARRING: Kabari Choudhury (Rajar Jhi), Roushan Jamil (Mother), Probir Mitra (Kishore), Ritwik Ghatak (Tilakchand), Rani Sarkar (Mungli), Sufia Rustam (Udaytara), Rosi Smad (Basanti)

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: India

LANGUAGE: Bengali with French/English subtitles

COLOR INFO: Black and White

RUNNING TIME: 158 minutes

ON COMPANY: Ribatan Ghatak/Ritwik Memorial Trust; National Film Archive of India; Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv

PRODUCER: Habibur Rahman Khan

Restored in 2010 by Cineteca di Bologna /L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory, in association with Ritwik Memorial Trust, the National Film Archive of India, and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project. Additional film elements provided by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv. Restoration funded by Doha Film Institute.

If you were eighteen years old, growing up in New Delhi, a student of cinema, a cinephile or a plain film snob, it was given that you would swoon over the film-maker Ritwik Ghatak and spend endless hours in the Delhi University canteen discussing his films, his alcoholism, and his eventual death from Tuberculosis. An ‘avant garde’ Writer and Director, Ghatak had caught the imagination of many of us who carried Mao’s Red Book’ and quoted liberally from it (in English) at the drop of a hat. After all, didn’t Ghatak (a card carrying Communist) film the extreme poverty and the cultural extinction of Bengal by Imperialism? Because of the political ‘din’ surrounding much of Ghatak’s work, ironically the work itself, as opposed to the man’s personality and politics, got neglected by the legion of his die-hard fans (me included!). It was only years later when I saw his epic, A River Called Titas, that I swooned for totally different reasons. The film is a work of pure genius. A passionate elegy for a dying culture, it moved me profoundly, and continues to haunt me to this day. Based on a novel by the Bengali author Advaita Barman and adapted for the screen by Ghatak, A River Called Titas, tells the raw and powerful story of a dying river and a dying culture.
–Deepa Mehta, May 2010


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

The restoration of A River called Titas used the camera and sound negatives and a positive print provided by the Ritwik Memorial Trust and held at the National Film Archive of India. As the original negative is incomplete and some reels were severely damaged, a combined lavender and a positive print provided by the Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv were also used. The digital restoration produced a new 35 mm internegative.

Image: © Courtesy of Ritaban Ghatak - Ritwik Memorial Trust


INDIA | 1948

KALPANA

Director: Uday Shankar

WRITTEN BY: Uday Shankar, Amritlal Nagar

EDITING: N.K. Gopal

DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: K. Ramnoth

FROM: National Film Archive of India

STARRING: Uday Shankar (Udayan & Writer), Amala Uday Shankar (Uma), Lakhmt Kanta (Kamini), Dr. G.V. Subbarao (Drawing Master), Brijo Behari Banerji (Uma’s Father)

COUNTRY OF PRODUCTION: India

LANGUAGE: Hindi

COLOR INFO: Black and White

RUNNING TIME: 155 minutes

PRODUCTION COMPANY: Uday Shankar Production

SET DESIGNER: K.R. Sharma

Restored in 2008 by Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata, in association with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, the family of Uday Shankar, the National Film Archive of India, and Dungarpur Films. Restoration funded by Doha Film Institute.

A great work of hallucinatory, homemade expressionism and ecstatic beauty, Uday Shankar’s Kalpana (Imagination) is one of the enduring classics of Indian cinema. Shankar, the brother of the great Ravi Shankar, was one of the central figures in the history of Indian dance, fusing Indian classical forms with western techniques. In the late 30s, he established his own dance academy in the Himalayas, whose students included his brother Ravi and future filmmaker Guru Dutt (who worked as an assistant on Kalpana). After the closure of the academy in the early 40s, Shankar started preparations on his one and only film, many years in the making.

Kalpana, with an autobiographical narrative of a dancer who dreams of establishing his own academy (starring Uday Shankar and his wife, the great Amala Shankar – the film also marks the debut of Padmini, who was 17 years old at the time), is one of the few real “dance films” – in other words, a film that doesn’t just include dance sequences, but whose primary physical vocabulary is dance. A commercial failure when it was released, the film is now regarded, justifiably, as a creative peak in the history of independent Indian filmmaking.


NOTES ON THE RESTORATION:

Kalpana has been digitally restored by the World Cinema Foundation at Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovata laboratory using a combined dupe negative and a positive print held at the National Film Archive of India.

The combined dupe negative was badly damaged and marked by lines, tears, dirt, dust, white marks and poor definition. The restoration required a considerable amount of both physical and digital repair in order to recover the beauty of faces, movements and costumes, and to reduce the aforementioned issues. The original sound was digitally transferred from the combined dupe negative. Digital cleaning and background noise reduction was applied.

The restoration has generated a duplicate negative, new optical soundtrack negative for preservation as well as a complete back-up of all the files produced by the digital restoration.

Image: © Courtesy of National Film Archive of India


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