Did you know that Humphrey Bogart never said “Play it again, Sam!” in the classic Casablanca (Michael Curtiz, 1942)? It is a misquotation that became famous worldwide, but the only way to check it is if we play the old movies again. Cinema Rediscovered, a new international archiving & film event taking place in Bristol (in the Southwest of England), from July 28th to 31st, will give you the opportunity to do just that.
Taking inspiration from the pioneering Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival in Bologna, Italy, Cinema Rediscovered celebrates cinema going as an event, giving audiences an opportunity to discover or indeed re-discover new digital restorations, film print rarities of early cinema and contemporary classics on the big screen.
Il Cinema Ritrovato turned 30 this year. They welcomed an enormous crowd of 100,000 spectators in Bologna just a few weeks ago. Gian Luca Farinelli, the director of the Cineteca di Bologna, said: “We have demonstrated that it is possible to combine high culture with big numbers. We’re delighted to see this British offspring of Il Cinema Ritrovato, on our 30th anniversary. We’re particularly happy this is happening in Bristol, a city which already has a strong reputation of presenting the history of film.”
Programme highlights include the world premiere of the newly restored British historic drama The Lion in Winter (Anthony Harvey, 1968), courtesy of Studiocanal. Based on James Goldman’s play about treachery in the family of England’s King Henry II, the film is an intense and personal drama with outstanding performances of Peter O’Toole and Katherine Hepburn.
Fists in the Pocket (1965) is the directorial debut of Marco Bellocchio and another must-see. Bellocchio’s importance to Italian cinematography is akin to Ken Loach’s to British films. Bellocchio made a big impact on radical Italian cinema in the mid-sixties, and still today brings to discussion themes such as euthanasia – in Dormant Beauty, 2012 – and corruption in politics and in the Catholic Church – in Blood of My Blood, 2015.
There will also be a special presentation of the a restored Merry Christmas, Mr Lawrence. The part-English language BAFTA-winning film by Japanese auteur Nagisa Oshima stars David Bowie (pictured above) in one of his finest and most haunting performances. The movie is about a clash between two cultures — the British and the Japanese. Late acclaimed film critic Roger Ebert points out that the film is “awkward, not because of the subject matter, but because of the contrasting acting styles. Here are two men trying to communicate in a touchy area and they behave as if they’re from different planets”. Oshima picked his actors well.
Cinema Rediscovered wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for the restoration of classics and dirty movies. Every restoration brings a new life to the work of art. The long-term storage and preservation of original material remains a key challenge for any cinema archive, always constrained by the limitations of the various technologies from the different eras. Bringing a traditional Italian film festival to the UK requires very intense and continuous communication between both countries.
Restoration is much more than a technical process: those involved need to study the filmmaker, understand his intentions and reconcile that with the colours, lighting and the sound. Such understanding is only possible if professionals from different areas and cultures join their forces, despite their differences. Cinema Rediscovered is a statement of unity, and of resistance to Brexit.
DMovies will be live at the event next weekend unearthing the dirt from their theatres and archives. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter and stay tuned!