A REEL IN TIME

Film Her­itage Foun­da­tion’s film restora­tion work­shop is among the most com­pre­hen­sive in the world

India Today - - LEISURE - —Joanna Lobo

It’s the story of loss. Out of some 1,700 si­lent films made in In­dia, there are only six com­plete ones and un­der 15 film frag­ments in the archives. These archives be­long to the Film Her­itage Foun­da­tion (FHF), a not-for­profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, which has been fight­ing to pre­serve and re­store films since 2014.

“Peo­ple were not aware that films could be lost or that they had to be pre­served and ques­tioned whether they should be pre­served at all. We were all fired up to start a cru­sade, but re­alised we had no war­riors to fight the bat­tle,” says founder Shiven­dra Singh Dun­garpur. It meant that FHF’s role went be­yond just ad­vo­cat­ing for the cause: they had to in­tro­duce train­ing pro­grammes.

This Novem­ber, the fourth edi­tion of the an­nual Film Preser­va­tion & Restora­tion Work­shop In­dia will be held in Kolkata, in part­ner­ship with Vi­a­com 18. “This work­shop is con­sid­ered to be the most com­pre­hen­sive of its kind, and has be­come a model for the In­ter­na­tional Fed­er­a­tion of Film Archives (FIAF) for its in­ter­na­tional train­ing pro­grammes,” says Sud­han­shu Vats, Group CEO and MD Des­ig­nate, Vi­a­com18. “For the lay­men, these work­shops will draw their at­ten­tion to­wards the ex­is­tence of great artists, past and present, which could be a life­time ex­pe­ri­ence.”

The cer­ti­fied course will in­clude lec­tures and prac­ti­cal classes taught by global ex­perts. Classes will be fol­lowed by screen­ings of re­stored clas­sics like Satya­jit Ray’s Apu Tril­ogy, Vit­to­rio De Sica’s Bi­cy­cle Thieves, Fed­erico Fellini’s Amar­cord,

Michelan­gelo An­to­nioni’s Blow-Up and Or­son Welles’s The Mag­nif­i­cent Am­ber­sons.

The suc­cess of pre­vi­ous work­shops in Mum­bai, Pune and Chen­nai can be seen in chang­ing at­ti­tudes. “The film in­dus­try is re­al­is­ing that cel­lu­loid is still the best archival for­mat, and as a re­sult, film­mak­ers and pro­duc­ers have been de­posit­ing their films with us for preser­va­tion or ap­proach­ing us for ad­vice on preser­va­tion,” says Dun­garpur. Af­ter the Chen­nai event, an in­spired Mani Rat­nam de­posited all his films with FHF for safe­keep­ing.

The FHF’s in­flu­ence has spread across the border too. Post their par­tic­i­pa­tion in these work­shops, Sri Lanka has started a move­ment to save their film her­itage and raised funds to build a film archive. Nepal is be­gin­ning work on a mass digi­ti­sa­tion pro­gramme for films. Bangladesh has sent per­son­nel to In­dia to train. And this year, Myan­mar will send their first par­tic­i­pant.

FPRWI 2018 will be held at Rabindrana­th Tagore Cen­tre from Novem­ber 18 to 22. Log on to http:// filmher­itage­foun­da­tion.co.in/

Mick Newn­ham of the NFSA, Aus­tralia, teach­ing a group at a re­cent work­shop

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