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Scorsese To Rescue Lost Film Gems

Ravi · 3 · 3649

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on: May 23, 2007, 04:44:12 PM

Scorsese to rescue lost film gems

Oscar-winning film director Martin Scorsese is spearheading a new body aimed at salvaging neglected films.

Scorsese - who has made Raging Bull, Taxi Driver and The Departed - launched the World Cinema Foundation (WCF) at the Cannes Film Festival.

He was joined by a dozen top directors, including Stephen Frears, who will highlight homegrown films from their own countries worth rescuing.

But Scorsese said the WCF would focus on films from developing countries.

Scorsese told reporters he feared seminal foreign films could deteriorate or disappear entirely.

"Coming from a working-class background in New York, my parents were not educated and weren't in the habit of reading books," the 66-year-old director said.

"So I saw a great deal of film on television in particular.

"This opened up a whole world to me, foreign films on television, and introduced so many different cultures to me.

"I found I was fed by those cultures, and I think the same thing has happened all around the world."

The Queen director Frears, who is chairing the Cannes award jury this year, added his voice to the call for the restoration of older films.

He said the British Film Institute (BFI) need more money to help maintain its archive.

"[It] is under-funded. It needs money. It's as simple as that. It's our lives, our culture. The government does not prioritise this highly enough."

'Important relics'

Cult Chinese director Wong Kar-wai - behind My Blueberry Nights, which opened Cannes this year - will also sit on the WFC board.

He said he had made a pet project out of hundreds of Chinese films he unearthed in a San Francisco warehouse two years ago and planned to bring them back to Hong Kong to restore as many as possible.

"They're just like orphans because they don't know who owned these copies," he said.

He called them invaluable relics of the waves of Chinese workers who left home for the US.

"Just imagine: before the Second World War, all these Chinese men, the immigrants working in the United States - they are not able to bring their wives, their families, they are lonely men in Chinatown and this is their only entertainment.

"And I think all these films have performed something very important, to link all the Chinese around the world because they have something to share."


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Reply #1 on: August 13, 2009, 12:42:30 AM
Martin Scorsese: An open letter to Michael Govan and LACMA
Source: Los Angeles Times

On July 28, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced it would be scrapping its 40-year-old weekend film program, a result of declining audiences and losses of about $1 million over the last decade.  LACMA director Michael Govan said the museum considers this "a pause for re-thinking" while the staff creates a more adventurous program. Since then, several supporters of the program, including a group that calls itself Save Film at LACMA, have spoken out about the decision. LACMA's film program is scheduled to cease after its final offering, "The Classic Films of Alain Resnais," Oct. 2 to 17.

The following is an open letter to Govan and LACMA from film director Martin Scorsese:

I am deeply disturbed by the recent decision to suspend the majority of film screenings at LACMA. For those of us who love cinema and believe in its value as an art form, this news hits hard.

We all know that the film industry, like many other institutions and industries, has to be radically rebuilt for the future. This is now apparent to everyone. But in the midst of all this change, the value and power of cinema’s past will only increase, and the need to show films as they were intended to be shown will become that much more pressing. So I find it profoundly disheartening to know that a vital outlet for the exhibition of what was once known as “repertory cinema” has been cut off in L.A. of all places, the center of film production and the land of the movie-making itself.

My personal connection to LACMA stretches back almost 40 years to when I lived in L.A.

during the '70s and regularly attended their vibrant film series, programmed by the legendary Ron Haver. It was actually at LACMA, during a 20th Century Fox retrospective, that I first became aware of the issues of color film fading and the urgent need for film preservation. Ian Birnie, a programmer of immaculate taste and knowledge, has continued in the tradition of Ron Haver, who was so well-versed in cinema past and present. I do not understand why this approach to programming needs to be re-thought. I am puzzled by the notion of pegging future film programming to “artist-created films,” as stated in the letter announcing this shift – to do this would be tantamount to downgrading the worth of cinema. Aren’t the best films made by artists in the first place?

Without places like LACMA and other museums, archives, and festivals where people can still see a wide variety of films projected on screen with an audience, what do we lose? We lose what makes the movies so powerful and such a pervasive cultural influence. If this is not valued in Hollywood, what does that say about the future of the art form? Aren’t museums serving a cultural purpose beyond appealing to the largest possible audience? I know that my life and work have been enriched by places like LACMA and MoMA whose public screening programs enabled me to see films that would never have appeared at my local movie theater, and that lose a considerable amount of their power and beauty on smaller screens.

I believe that LACMA is taking an unfortunate course of action. I support the petition that is still circulating, with well over a thousand names at this point, many of them prominent. It comes as no surprise to me that the public is rallying. People from all over the world are speaking out, because they see this action – correctly, I think – as a serious rebuke to film within the context of the art world. The film department is often held at arms’ length at LACMA and other institutions, separate from the fine arts, and this simply should not be. Film departments should be accorded the same respect, and the same amount of financial leeway, as any other department of fine arts. To do otherwise is a disservice to cinema, and to the public as well.

I hope that LACMA will reverse this unfortunate decision.

--Martin Scorsese
New York, N.Y.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

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Reply #2 on: November 03, 2009, 08:24:14 PM
Martin Scorsese talks up Blu-ray
Director tells confab that technology will extend a film's life
Source: Hollywood Reporter

Martin Scorsese, star attraction at Hollywood's latest cheerleading session for high-definition home entertainment, said the words many a studio suit can only hope prove true.

"Blu-ray is going to extend the lifetime of a movie," the filmmaker told the crowd Tuesday during Blu-Con 2.0 symposium at the Beverly Hilton.

Speaking by -- what else? -- video, Scorsese praised Criterion's remastering of the 1948 film classic "The Red Shoes" for upcoming release on Blu-ray Disc.

"It's like experiencing the film for the first time again," he said. "It's not just the details of the eyes or such; it creates a completely different experience."

Movies viewed in the HD format boast a "film-grain quality," Scorsese said, adding Blu-ray "allows the film to be seen as closely as possible to how it was intended to be."

Despite the rhapsodizing, Blu-Con, sponsored by industry consortium Digital Entertainment Group, was not without its sobering moments for anyone expecting an overnight rebound in studios' sagging home-entertainment fortunes.

During a panel presentation, moderator and Merrill Lynch analyst Jessica Reif Cohen asked studio execs whether their divisions' recent double-digit revenue declines were more tied to the recession or DVD format fatigue.

"It's a bit of both," Sony home entertainment president David Bishop said. "But as the recession eases, we're already starting to see the business start to recover."

Fox's Mike Dunn estimated that "the economy is probably 80% of our issue," and Warner Bros.' Ron Sanders said the DVD reaching market saturation is the other big reason for recent revenue slippage.

"People buy the most discs when they first get a player," Sanders said.

That could bode well for growth in Blu-ray software sales. But most forecasts suggest Blu-ray growth won't begin to replace DVD slippage dollar for dollar until 2011.

Year-to-date, home-entertainment revenue is off about 12% industrywide. Solid holiday sales should reduce that annual decline to 10% or less by year's end, execs said.

"This holiday season, we expect to see Blu-ray player prices start at about $100," DEG president Sanders said.

That could help fuel even further growth in the format's installed base, which has increased by an estimated 112% so far this year.

"I'm very optimistic about 2010," Universal's Craig Kornblau said.

Meanwhile, Sony senior vp restoration and mastering Grover Crisp said Scorsese's infectious enthusiasm for Blu-ray seems has been a boon for Sony and others working on disc remastering and special features.

"It has been great because he has also gotten other directors like Michael Mann and Christopher Nolan involved as well," Crisp said.
“Don't think about making art, just get it done. Let everyone else decide if it's good or bad, whether they love it or hate it. While they are deciding, make even more art.” - Andy Warhol

Skeleton FilmWorks