I don’t cry a whole lot. I’m part of that generation of men raised by
women, yeah, but when the salty liquid flows it generally isn’t from my
eyes. Even so, I get a little bit teary every time I think about the
percentage of early films that are simply gone. Nitrate stock: bad
idea. So is storing film in loose cans in a basement or garage,
whether the structure is attached to some guy’s house in Austin or
behind the gate of a studio lot.
(Some horrific figures: 90% of silent films are gone, and that number factors into the disappearance of 50% of pre-1950 films.)
So here comes Martin Scorsese, cinematic wet nurse; the guy who holds my sobbing form to his caring bosom and croons a lullaby of restoration and preservation every time I start to break down over the state of film conservation.
At Cannes this year, Marty was part of a panel discussing the state of film preservation across the world, and he used the platform to announce a new venture. The World Cinema Foundation will be dedicated to preserving and restoring neglected films from around the world, starting with Moroccan filmmaker Ahmed El Maanouni’s music documentary Trances, which is premiering in restored form at the festival along with two other films from Brazil and Romania that have benefited from the WCF’s caring touch.
The Eyebrow has founded a similar project before; in 1990 he launched The Film Foundation with Coppola, Altman, Eastwood, Kubrick, Pollack, Lucas, Redford, Spielberg and Woody Allen. The new foundation has a similarly talented group of participating filmmakers that is more striking because it represents the incresingly cooperative state of global film: Innaritu, del Toro, Wim Wenders, Wong Kar Wai, Walter Salles and Stephen Frears are on the board. I’m not sure which makes me happier — seeing film (any film) preserved properly, or witnessing the gestation of a multi-cultural cinematic mentality. Get some other African, Russian and South American artists in the roster and this project will be amazing.
Hey Marty, how about launching a DVD line to publicize the foundation and benefit an audience that can’t attend festivals?