Scorsese spearheads bid to rescue lost films

22nd May 2007, Comments 0 comments

CANNES, France, May 22, 2007 (AFP) - Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese launched a bid with some of the world's other top filmmakers Tuesday to restore and preserve neglected cinema gems before they vanish.

CANNES, France, May 22, 2007 (AFP) - Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese launched a bid with some of the world's other top filmmakers Tuesday to restore and preserve neglected cinema gems before they vanish.

Scorsese told reporters at the 60th Cannes film festival that the World Cinema Foundation (WCF) was born of his life-long love for movies and fears that 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 so I saw a great deal of film on television in particular," the 66-year-old director said.

"This opened up a whole world to me, foreign films on television, and introduced so many different cultures to me and I found I was fed by those cultures, and I think the same thing has happened all around the world."

Scorsese was flanked by a dozen top directors including Wong Kar-wai, Stephen Frears, Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, Walter Salles, Fatih Akin and Souleymane Cisse who will sit on the WCF board of directors and highlight homegrown films from their own countries worth rescuing.

The WCF will focus primarily on pictures from developing countries.

Scorsese said it would encourage the distribution of unique domestic films in their own markets in specialty cinemas, at festivals and over the Internet.

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

"They're just like orphans because they don't know who owned these copies," he said, calling them an invaluable relic of the waves of Chinese workers who left home for America.

"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."

Three of the WCF's first recovered films will be screened at Cannes:

The 1981 documentary "Transes" in which Moroccan director Ahmed El Maanouni captured the pioneering music group Nass El Ghiwan. Scorsese credited the film with inspiring his "Last Temptation of Christ."

The 1931 film "Limite" by Brazil's Mario Peixoto about three people adrift on a boating trip. Salles rediscovered the film a decade ago and launched an archive of the director's work.

"Padurea Spanzuratilor", a 1964 feature by Romanian actor and film-maker Liviu Ciulei, who won the best director prize at Cannes in 1965. The picture is a portrait of turn-of the century Romanian society set against the backdrop of World War I.

WCF will be funded by private sponsors including Giorgio Armani, Cartier and Qatar Airways.


Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Cannes Film Festival

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