Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation to Partner with Mk2 Films on Restored Classics (EXCLUSIVE)

Elsa Keslassy

5/22/2023 9:00:00 AM

France’s mk2 films is set to distribute internationally a collection of Martin Scorsese’s prestigious restored films from the World Cinema Project, which is part of his banner The Film Foundation.

The World Cinema Project has so far restored 51 films from 29 different countries, representing the breadth and diversity of global cinema.

Scorsese, one of the greatest living film legends whose latest movie “Killers of the Flower Moon” world premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 20, created The Film Foundation to raise awareness and funds for the preservation of our cinematic history. Since its formation, The Film Foundation has helped to preserve and restore over 1,000 films from every era and genre, ranging from features to documentaries, newsreels, shorts, home movies, experimental and silent films.

“The Film Foundation’s partnership with mk2 creates greater international visibility for the films restored through the World Cinema Project,” said Scorsese. “These incredible films are an essential part of our collective film heritage; making them available to a wider international audience is a goal we share with mk2. We’re excited to work together on this exciting program,” Scorsese continued.

Nathanaël Karmitz, Mk2 Films’ CEO, said “Film heritage and preservation has always been core to Mk2’s activity. We are honored to partner with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation and their vital work in restoring and preserving under-exposed classics of international cinema.”

“It is a real privilege to distribute these titles, introducing them to new audiences and confirming and maintaining their cultural importance,” Karmitz continued.

The World Cinema Project’s restored titles will join mk2 films’ catalogue of over 1,000 titles from cult filmmakers such as Charles Chaplin, Abbas Kiarostami, and Agnès Varda. The company has also launched events to promote classics from its library, for instance Krzysztof Kieślowski’s “Three Colours” trilogy which was recently re-released.

Created in 2007, the World Cinema Project expanded the foundation’s mission globally, to regions where preservation resources and infrastructure are scarce. To date, 51 films from Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Central America, South America, and the Middle East have been restored, preserved and exhibited for a global audience, sometimes for the first time outside of their country of origin.

The World Cinema Project partnered with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), UNESCO, and the Cineteca di Bologna in 2017 to launch the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative to locate, preserve, and distribute African cinema, as identified by FEPACI’s advisory board of archivists, scholars, and filmmakers. The WCP also supports educational programs, including Restoration Film Schools; intensive, results-oriented workshops allowing students and professionals worldwide to learn the art and science of film restoration and preservation.

Along with this new partnership with The Film Foundation, mk2 films has also recently added to its library “The Times of Harvey Milk” by Rob Epstein and “The Celluloid Closet” by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman, among others.


Steven Spielberg, Paul Thomas Anderson Discuss Their Film Preservation Efforts: “The Protection of Memories”

Ryan Gajewski

4/15/2023 2:50:00 PM

Steven SpielbergPaul Thomas Anderson and Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav took part in a panel at the 2023 TCM Classic Film Festival to discuss the importance of rescuing films that are at risk of deteriorating.

During an event Thursday on the festival’s opening night at Los Angeles’ TCL Chinese Theatre, TCM host Ben Mankiewicz moderated a conversation between the three guests surrounding their efforts to restore decades-old titles. Spielberg explained that Martin Scorsese launched The Film Foundation in 1990 to preserve motion picture history and had enlisted the help of the Hollywood studios and other prominent filmmakers. The panel on Thursday focused on the work being done in a partnership between TCM, Warner Bros. Discovery and Film Foundation, and it accompanied the premiere screening of the 4K restoration of Howard Hawks’ Rio Bravo (1959).

“We all joined [Scorsese] to go around to all the studios to get them to try to finance this rescue operation to save our cultural heritage,” Spielberg said. The Fabelmans director recalled that among his fellow filmmakers who joined Scorsese back in 1990 were Stanley Kubrick, Francis Ford Coppola and Sydney Pollack.

As for how the group decides which movies to prioritize, Spielberg — who noted that their efforts have rescued more than 990 films — explained that they initially aimed to collect the body of work of a particular director. The quality of a film negative can also be a deciding factor, while a filmmaker’s own personal preference can help steer decisions as well.

“We try to find the films, not the films that are our favorite movies, but films that tell a very unique story of this country and the people of this country,” the Oscar winner continued. “And not only this country, but we’re rescuing experimental films, documentaries. We’re rescuing international films now. We’ve already rescued 97 international films. So this is something that’s not going to stop. We were all very busy making our movies in 1990, and Marty put everything aside and said, ‘No, we’re prioritizing this. This is what needs to be done.'”

According to Anderson, the importance of the work goes beyond just preserving cinematic history. “I don’t want to get philosophical, but it starts to end up being the protection of memories — very, very important memories — that we each individually have,” the Licorice Pizza helmer said. “Where was I when I saw E.T.? I remember it very well, and I remember the friends I was with. I remember who I took to see that film as much as I remember the film.”

The TCM Classic Film Festival, which this year spotlights Warner Bros.’ legacy in honor of the studio’s 100th anniversary, ends Sunday. Videos from the festival’s events can be seen here


TCM Classic Film Festival 2023: Hollywood Titans Support Saving Movie Memories

Anne Thompson

4/14/2023 6:30:00 PM

Opening night of the 14th TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood brought out not only the lustrous 4D restored Howard Hawks classic western “Rio Bravo” — starring John Wayne, Dean Martin, and Angie Dickinson, 91, who was on hand — but two directors and board members of Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, Steven Spielberg and Paul Thomas Anderson. They extolled Scorsese’s foresight and ongoing commitment to preserving and saving the original celluloid elements of classic films so that restorations like this one can occur.

“David and Warner Bros have their own archivists and they have titles they’d like from the Warner Bros. archive to be preserved,” said Spielberg explaining how titles are chosen, nearly 1000 since 1990 to date. “And every studio does have that but we try to find the films, not the films that are our favorite movies, but films that tell a very unique story of this country and the people of this country, and not only this country, but we’re rescuing experimental films, documentaries, already 97 international films. So this is something that’s not going to stop. And I just have to say I’m so proud that Marty [Scorsese], we’re all very busy making our movies, but in 1990 Marty put everything aside and said ‘no, this is what we were prioritizing. This is what needs to be done.’”

“It’s the preservation of our work,” Anderson added. “But it’s also preserving our memories and helping us to preserve those memories so that when you want to revisit that moment of that feeling of when you walked into a theater you can. We all want to hold on to our memories, but sometimes they fade away from us, but we can hold on to them if we preserve them this way.”

The other power mogul on the opening night panel moderated by TCM host Ben Mankiewicz was his boss, Warner Discovery CEO David Zaslav, who convincingly expressed his support of classic movies, especially from his studio, which made “Rio Bravo” back in 1959 and is now celebrating its 100th anniversary. “TCM is the history of our country,” he said, naming three Warners titles that made a crucial impact: anti-KKK film “Black Legion,” “Confessions of a Nazi Spy,” and “Gentleman’s Agreement.”

Zaslav could use some positive PR in the wake of this week’s announcements about switching over to revamped and renamed streaming service Max, which saw his company stock lose value on Wall Street. Lending public support to TCM and classic movies isn’t going to turn Warner Discovery’s fortunes around, but at least Zaslav appears to be on the side of the angels.

RIO BRAVO, John Wayne, Dean Martin, 1959
“Rio Bravo”
Courtesy Everett Collection

The opening night audience was packed with enthusiastic cinephiles, among them Harry Warner’s granddaughter Cass and Trailers from Hell contributor Allan Arkush cheering for Dickinson, who gamely submitted to questions from Mankiewicz, who cited “this shared feeling we all have, a sense of community we share, that has only intensified in the last 14 years.”

At age 27, Dickinson beat out the Hollywood ingenue audition competition, she said, with some help from director Hawks, who was looking for a comeback. As virtually the only woman on the production, did she hang out with the boys? “No,” she said. Wayne and Martin were too busy playing chess. While she calls Wayne’s character “John T.” in the movie, no one would ever call the massive western star John on set, she said. “We all called him Duke.”

Among the 100 events unfolding over the next week at the TCM Classic Movie Festival, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh will host a Friday screening of “Oceans 11” as part of the Warners celebration, which includes screenings of ten studio movies including “Casablanca, “East of Eden,”” and “The Music Man.” Other celebrity hosts include Dana Delany (introducing RKO’s “Ball of Fire”) and TCM host Alicia Malone.


Restored Masterpiece From Argentina Screens Online This Weekend

Self-Styled Siren

4/8/2023 2:00:00 PM

If you are following the Siren, you’re probably very well aware of The Film Foundation, the film-preservation nonprofit founded by the Mighty Martin Scorsese in 1990. If not, you can read up on the Film Foundation’s mission here and also watch videos with Scorsese, Wes Anderson, and Ang Lee.

One of the Foundation’s more recent and wonderful projects is called The Restoration Screening Room—a virtual space to showcase preservation and restoration work. Each month they make a restored movie available online, free of charge, for 72 hours. This month’s offering is especially exciting because it’s so rare: the 1939 Argentine film Prisioneros de la Tierra, directed by Mario Soffici. According to the Foundation’s website, Prisioneros

…is considered one of the greatest films ever made in Argentina. Director Mario Soffici adapted four different short stories by Horacio Quiroga, the Uruguayan playwright, poet, and author, to craft a powerful and emotional film that examines issues of social justice through its myriad of characters, all human and all flawed. Set in the yerba mate plantations of northern Argentina, the film shows the harsh working conditions of the Guaraní Indians against the beautiful natural landscapes, which highlights the ongoing conflict between the upper and lower classes. Soffici effortlessly balances his social justice narrative with more melodramatic elements of love, betrayal, and alcoholism, all filmed in dramatic black-and-white, to create a rich and honest portrait of life's many struggles. In addition to its cinematic achievements, the film is also an important record of the Guaraní dialect, which is now virtually lost.

If you want to watch the movie, all you have to do is register. It will be available at that link as of 7 pm local time tonight. At the link, you can also watch Martin Scorsese’s personal introduction, as well as a conversation about Prisioneros between filmmakers Matías Piñeiro and Gina Telaroli, and another conversation with Paula Félix-Didier and Andrés Levinson of the Buenos Aires Film Museum. You can even join in a live screening with commentary on April 10, 2023 at 7pm EST.

I’ve been in a film-nerd tizzy about The Restoration Screening Room for months now, as it’s available to so many far-flung readers outside the New York area. This project spreads the word about the importance of film preservation in the best possible way: by showing people the movies.

I’ve even been able to participate myself. Back in December, the Film Foundation screened their gorgeous restoration of I’m No Angel, and I got to talk to Gina Telaroli about the movie and the inimitable Mae West. That restoration is no longer online, but if you want to see me chat with Gina, you still can at this link. I recommend clicking around and taking a look at the incredible materials that the Foundation still has up for past screenings such as GiantThe RiverSambizanga and La Strada.

And when you register, do check the box to get notifications about future events. Next month, the selection is Henry King’s 1925 silent Stella Dallas, starring Belle Bennett—the dazzling restoration from the Museum of Modern Art, of which Friend of the Siren Dave Kehr is justifiably proud. He screened it to a rapturous audience at Venice, and now here ‘tis!



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