Criterion Collection and BFI Win Awards at Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival

Paul Fejo's "Lonesome"

The American repertory label's release of Paul Fejos' 1928 film "Lonesome" nets Best Blu-ray prize, while the British institution was honored for its DVD release strategies.

BOLOGNA, ITALY – Criterion Collection and BFI Video Publishing have secured prizes at Il Cinema Ritrovato’s annual DVD awards, alongside U.S. companies Flicker Alley and Oscilloscope, and also cinematheques and archives from Italy, Czech Republic, Germany and Belgium.

The New York-based Criterion Collection, whose chiefs Peter Becker and Jonathan Turrell appeared at the festival to talk about the history of their company and then introduce a screening of Terrence Malick’s Badlands on Tuesday, received the Best Blu-ray prize for its release of Lonesome, the 1928 Universal-financed silent film by Hungarian-born Paul Fejos. The best standard-definition DVD prize went to La Cineteca del Friuli’s two-disc set of Italian director Vito Pandolfi’s 1963 film Gli Ultimi.

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Two other U.S. companies were garlanded at the awards, which were handed out at a ceremony at the Scorsese theater of Bologna’s cinematheque on Thursday. The Adam Yauch-founded Oscilloscope Pictures took home the Best Special Features Blu-ray prize for its release of Nicholas Ray’s 1973 film We Can’t Go Home Again. (The best special features for a standard-def DVD title went to French label Re:Voir Video, for the release of Canadian avant-garde filmmaker Michael Snow’s Rameau’s Nephew By Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen.) Flicker Alley, meanwhile, received the Best Silent Collection award for their French Masterworks: Russian Emigres in Paris 1920-1945 title.

The DVD boxed set prize went to the seven-disc set of films by Catalan director Pere Portabella, published by Prodimag-Intermedio; the Blu-ray box set title went to the Belgian Royal Cinematheque’s anthology of documentary director Henri Storck.

Meanwhile, BFI Video Publishing was given the Best Publishing Strategy for a DVD Label award. The Best Rediscovery titles went to Edition Filmmuseum–Deutsche Kinemathek’s collection of four 1910s movies starring Danish star Asta Nielsen, and the Czech National Film Archive’s anthology of the country’s animation films from 1920 to 1945.

Now into its 10th edition, the DVD Awards was described by Il Cinema Ritrovato – Bologna’s annual week-long festival dedicated to screenings of classics, lost gems and restored films – as an attempt to “encourage and give visibility to quality home entertainment” from around the world.

Winners were chosen, from a preselected short list of 36 releases from the past year, by a jury comprising festival director Peter von Bagh, Cineteca del Friuli’s vice-director Lorenzo Codelli, Austrian Film Museum head Alexander Horwarth, U.S. programmer Mark McElhatten, and critics Paolo Mereghetti and Jonathan Rosenbaum.

The group also gave out two special prizes on Thursday, choosing Robert Benayoun’s six-episode series on Jerry Lewis, Bonjour Mr Lewis, from the festival’s program to be worthiest of a DVD release. Meanwhile, French label Arte Video’s release of Jacques Rivette’s Out 1: Noli Me Tangere/Out 1: Spectre was named the jury’s Best DVD outside the short-listed candidates.

Having begun on June 29, Il Cinema Ritrovato ends on Saturday. Among those present at the festival were Alexander Payne, who discussed his love of classic films in an onstage discussion with von Bagh on Sunday, and French filmmaking doyenne Agnes Varda, who introduced her first film, La Point Courte.