Int'l helmers call action on film preservation society

Foundation for 'cultural identity'

Martin Scorsese, flanked by a group of globe- spanning directors, announced Tuesday the launch of the World Cinema Foundation, devoted to the preservation and restoration of neglected films.

Among the first films to be rescued by the Scorsese-founded nonprofit is Ahmed El Maanouni's 1981 Moroccan music documentary "Trances." El Maanouni was among the panelists discussing the need to keep a global focus on cinematic restoration efforts.

Stephen Frears, Wong Kar Wai, Walter Salles, Alfonso Cuaron and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu also were among the all-male panel.

"In America, we know that 90% of all silent films are now gone … and that's the situation in America," Scorsese said. "So we thought over the past few years that it would be a wonderful thing to be able to pull together directors from all over the world to work on their countries raising financing (to preserve films)."

He said he first saw "Trances" in the early 1980s on TV in New York when he was working on "The King of Comedy." He said it provided him with a glimpse into another culture.

"We influence each other, and that creates a new kind of cinema, which is right here in Cannes," he said, motioning to the panel. "This can, hopefully, bring about some sort of political understanding."

Added Salles: "Preserving films is preserving cultural identity. What we're talking about is preserving diversity and plurality and the possibility to know each other better."
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