A REEL IN TIME
Film Heritage Foundation’s film restoration workshop is among the most comprehensive in the world
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