KIFF, marking 100 years of Bengali cinema, to focus on restoration

One hundred years after the first Bengali film, Bilwamangal, was screened, the 24th Kolkata International Film Festival (KIFF), to be held from November 10 to 17, will not only celebrate the journey through the past century but also focus on preservation and restoration of Bengali classics.

One of the major draws of this year’s KIFF is a workshop on film preservation organised by the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF). The workshop, which will train 60 resource personnel in the art of preservation and restoration, also aims to create awareness on the urgent need to preserve the moving image heritage of the Bengali film industry.

‘Silent films lost’

Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, founder director of FHF, said that Bengali films were the most affected when it came to preservation. “We have lost all the silent films made here between 1918 and early 1930s, except one film, Jamaibabu, of 1931,” Mr. Dungarpur said.

KIFF, marking 100 years of Bengali cinema, to focus on restoration

The FHF has compiled a list of 100 Bengali films that are in urgent need of preservation and restoration. They include Bimal Roy’s Udayer Pathe (1944), Suchitra Sen-Uttam Kumar starrer Harano Sur (1957), Tapan Sinha’s Kabuliwala (1957), Satyajit Ray’s Parash Pathar (1958) and Teen Kanya (1961), and Mrinal Sen’s Padatik (1973), among others. Most of these films are lying with individual producers or with the State government.

What makes the workshop and this year’s KIFF more interesting is that 13 classics of world cinema — including The Apu Trilogy (Pather Panchali, Aparajito and Apur Sansar) of Satyajit Ray, Bicycle Thieves of Vittiorio De Sica and Blow Up of Michelangelo Antonioni — will be screened as ‘restored classics’. Before each screening, an expert on film restoration will talk about the restoration process of that particular film.

“Restoration is an art form and we have to train people in this aspect so that our heritage of moving images can be preserved. Moreover, we have to also understand that restoration is more costly that creation,” Mr. Dungarpur said.

Vivek Kumar, director general of KIFF, said the workshop — whose organisers include Viacom18 and International Federation of Film Archives — is a “very important” component of the festival. “Eleven of the most qualified archivist and film restorers of the world will participate in the workshop,”” Mr. Kumar said.

KIFF, marking 100 years of Bengali cinema, to focus on restoration

There will be a number of other events to commemorate 100 years of Bengali cinema . This includes an exhibition and also conferring of a special award named after one of the first filmmakers of Bengal, Hiralal Sen. The 24th edition of KIFF will also publish a directory of Bengali films of the past hundred years, a brochure on historical significance of Bengali cinema and a special screening of 14 Bengali films. The inaugural film at the festival will be Uttam Kumar-Tanuja-starrer Bengali film Antony Firingee (1967).

As many as 171 feature films and 150 short films and documentaries from 70 countries will be screened at 16 different venues in the city and suburbs.

“The focus country is Australia, which is also celebrating 100 years of their cinema,” Mr. Kumar said, adding that a delegation of artist and film personalities from that country will be attending the KIFF. The master class, a regular event at the KIFF for film students and cinema enthusiasts, will be conducted by Australian director Philip Noyce.

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Printable version | Oct 13, 2021 4:04:31 AM |

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