Martin Scorsese: Preservation Is "Crucial" for "Universal" Language of Film in "Time of Great Divisions"

Martin Scorsese Lumiere H - 2015

The Film Foundation, backed by the Oscar-winning director, is teaming with India's Film Heritage Foundation for a second time for a film preservation workshop in the country.

The Film Foundation, backed by Martin Scorsese, is again partnering with India's Film Heritage Foundation for the latter's second Film Preservation and Restoration Workshop, with the Hollywood director emphasizing the importance of preservation.

"The language of cinema is universal," Scorsese said in a statement. "In a time of great divisions, conflicts, transformations, it's really crucial to preserve and share our cultural patrimonies and to ensure that this universal language will speak to future generations around the world."

The workshop is organized by India's Film Heritage Foundation, the National Film Archive of India and the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). In addition to TFF's World Cinema Project, the workshop's U.S. collaborators include the George Eastman Museum and the Selznick School of Film Preservation along with Italian film preservation laboratory L'immagine Ritrovata.

He also said that the workshop was "a unique opportunity to meet with leading experts in the field, attend practical hands on  preservation and restoration workshops, presentations and screenings of restored films."

TFF was created in 1990 by Scorsese with the aim of preserving film history, and has helped restore 700 films over the years. TFF’s World Cinema Project has helped  restore 26 films from 19 countries, including India's Kalpana, directed by Uday Shankar, which premiered at Cannes in 2012.

In addition to Scorsese, TFF's board of directors includes Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Robert Redford, Woody Allen, Paul Thomas  Anderson, Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Curtis Hanson, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee and Alexander Payne.

India's record in film preservation is considered dismal, according to FHF. By 1950, India had lost 70-80 percent of its films, including the first Indian talkie Alam Ara. Only a few of the 1,700 silent films made in India remain.

The first film preservation workshop was held in Mumbai in 2015, which FHF founder and director Shivendra Singh Dungarpur told THR "helped increase awareness about film preservation and this led the Indian government to establish the National Film Heritage Mission." The initiative is backed with funding of about $8.8 million (600 million rupees), which will be used for various film preservation and archival projects.

This year's workshop will be held at the NFAI in Pune, about 60 miles outside the film capital Mumbai, which will be attended by 53 participants selected from 83 applicants.

Among the experts holding sessions are David Walsh, head of the technical commission, FIAF; Thelma Ross, Moving Image Cataloguer, Department of Film, Museum of Modern Art; Kristen Merola, project manager, The Film Foundation; Paolo Cherchi Usai, senior curator, George Eastman Museum;  Davide Pozzi, director, L’Immagine Ritrovata and Richard Wright, an archive preservation specialist who was formerly with the BBC Research and Development department.

The workshop runs Feb. 26-March 6.