Martin Scorsese's latest project? Saving old films.

Martinscorsese_l
Aside from his day job as arguably America’s greatest movie director, Martin Scorsese spends what little down time he has as one of the world’s most high-profile champions of film restoration. Currently, the man behind Raging Bull, Goodfellas, and The Departed, is in Cannes promoting his World Cinema Foundation’s latest initiative to remaster, preserve, and exhibit neglected foreign classics that might otherwise crumble to dust. We chatted with Scorsese about the project (and his next one — a recently announced biopic of Frank Sinatra).

EW: Why did you start the World Cinema Foundation?

Scorsese: It came out of the success we had over the past 17 or 18 years with the archivists at the [Hollywood] studios getting over 500 films restored and preserved. So we formed a new group to help countries that are underdeveloped, archive their negatives. In many cases, they don’t even have buildings to put the films in. And we felt we could make these films available worldwide so they could be seen.

EW: How have American audiences’ appetite for foreign films changed? Are they more willing to watch imports now?

Scorsese: In the ’60s and ’70s, the generation I was a part of, we were very influenced by films from abroad. They enriched our culture. Films from Western Europe and Russia and Japan. But there’s also an extraordinary cinema coming out of Africa, out of South America, and this is something that would be of great benefit to all of us around the world.

EW: This year, you’ve restored and preserved 1969’s Al Momia from Egypt, 1991’s A Brighter Summer Day from Taiwan, and 1936’s Redes from Mexico. Is the idea to tackle three or four films each year?

Scorsese: Ideally, as many as possible. It depends on how many films are submitted. And right now, there’s only a few people doing this — the restoration, I mean. That’s a bit of a limitation. And they do take some time to do.

Read more from Scorsese and see links to streaming versions of last year’s WCF titles after the jump.

 

EW: Even die-hard movie buffs won’t have heard of most of these films. How did you select the ones you did for this year?

Scorsese: Well, for example, I had been reading about this film Touki Bouki,
a film from the ‘70s from Senegal, so I got a copy of that. And that
opened up a door to another kind of cinema for me. And the Egyptian
film, Al Momia, was one I had been searching for for years! And
I still haven’t seen it! I just introduced it here at Cannes and I
wanted to sit down and watch it, but I had to talk to you! (laughs)

EW: Sorry about that.

Scorsese: I’ve been trying to see a good color print of the film
since the late ‘60s, early ‘70s. It’s a beautiful, haunting film about
time and memory and the debt we owe to the past. A very melancholy and
gorgeous looking picture.

EW: One of the aims of your initiative is to make these films
available to Americans by streaming video (on theauteurs.com and
iTunes) and on DVD through the Criterion Collection and Netflix. Don’t
you think it’s a little ironic that these lost pieces of celluloid are
being given a second life digitally and over the internet?

Scorsese: I guess there is a slight irony to it. But you have to
understand that the only thing that we really know lasts is celluloid. That lasts! We have no idea what’s going to happen with digital.

EW: So you’re still sticking to your old-school guns?

Scorsese: Well, digital is apparently very difficult to store. I
don’t even know what it looks like, quite honestly. Film, right now, is
the only thing we know lasts, so it behooves the people who own these
films to make sure that the original elements are protected and
preserved.

EW: Are you seeing any movies while you’re in Cannes?

Scorsese: I saw [1948’s restored classic] The Red Shoes last night.

EW: And? How many times have you seen that now?

Scorsese: That restoration’s taken years. I don’t know how many
times I’ve seen it! That’s like asking ‘How many times have you
listened to Beethoven’s Seventh?’ It’s a part of your life. But I’d
never seen it like this since maybe when I was 8.

EW: It was just announced that you would be directing a biopic of
Frank Sinatra. Any chance we’ll get to see Leonardo DiCaprio as Old
Blue Eyes?

Scorsese: It’s hard to talk about it because we’ve been working on it for a number of years. [Field of Dreams screenwriter]
Phil Alden Robinson’s been working on the script and it was announced
yesterday. And I literally don’t think anyone’s read the script yet
except myself and Phil. We’re still working on it. So there’s no actor
yet. Sorry, I can’t tell you more than that. 

Djibril Diop Mambety’s Touki Bouki (Senegal, 1973)

Metin Erksan’s Dry Summer (Turkey, 1964)

Kim Ki-Young’s The Housemaid (South Korea, 1960)

Ahmed El Maanouni’s Transes (Morocco, 1981)

addCredit(“Dziekan/Retna Ltd”)

EW: Even die-hard movie buffs won’t have heard of most of these films. How did you select the ones you did for this year?

Scorsese: Well, for example, I had been reading about this film Touki Bouki,a film from the ‘70s from Senegal, so I got a copy of that. And thatopened up a door to another kind of cinema for me. And the Egyptianfilm, Al Momia, was one I had been searching for for years! AndI still haven’t seen it! I just introduced it here at Cannes and Iwanted to sit down and watch it, but I had to talk to you! (laughs)

EW: Sorry about that.

Scorsese: I’ve been trying to see a good color print of the filmsince the late ‘60s, early ‘70s. It’s a beautiful, haunting film abouttime and memory and the debt we owe to the past. A very melancholy andgorgeous looking picture.

EW: One of the aims of your initiative is to make these filmsavailable to Americans by streaming video (on theauteurs.com andiTunes) and on DVD through the Criterion Collection and Netflix. Don’tyou think it’s a little ironic that these lost pieces of celluloid arebeing given a second life digitally and over the internet?

Scorsese: I guess there is a slight irony to it. But you have tounderstand that the only thing that we really know lasts is celluloid. That lasts! We have no idea what’s going to happen with digital.

EW: So you’re still sticking to your old-school guns?

Scorsese: Well, digital is apparently very difficult to store. Idon’t even know what it looks like, quite honestly. Film, right now, isthe only thing we know lasts, so it behooves the people who own thesefilms to make sure that the original elements are protected andpreserved.

EW: Are you seeing any movies while you’re in Cannes?

Scorsese: I saw [1948’s restored classic] The Red Shoes last night.

EW: And? How many times have you seen that now?

Scorsese: That restoration’s taken years. I don’t know how manytimes I’ve seen it! That’s like asking ‘How many times have youlistened to Beethoven’s Seventh?’ It’s a part of your life. But I’dnever seen it like this since maybe when I was 8.

EW: It was just announced that you would be directing a biopic ofFrank Sinatra. Any chance we’ll get to see Leonardo DiCaprio as OldBlue Eyes?

Scorsese: It’s hard to talk about it because we’ve been working on it for a number of years. [Field of Dreams screenwriter]Phil Alden Robinson’s been working on the script and it was announcedyesterday. And I literally don’t think anyone’s read the script yetexcept myself and Phil. We’re still working on it. So there’s no actoryet. Sorry, I can’t tell you more than that. 

Djibril Diop Mambety’s Touki Bouki (Senegal, 1973)

Metin Erksan’s Dry Summer (Turkey, 1964)

Kim Ki-Young’s The Housemaid (South Korea, 1960)

Ahmed El Maanouni’s Transes (Morocco, 1981)

addCredit(“Dziekan/Retna Ltd”)

Comments (8 total) Add your comment
  • Nathan

    If it weren’t for Martin Scorsese and the good people over at Criterion/Janus, so many classic film treasures would likely be gone forever, bravo guys!

  • Michelle

    LOVE Criterion Collection!!! I wish restoring films wouldn’t take so long, but I understand its a painstaking job. Thank you Scorcese for making AMAZING films and letting little known films be shown in the US!

  • Steve Robles

    Speaking of Scorsese! Make sure you join this Facebook group! Toby Huss IS Frank! http://www.facebook.com/topic.php?topic=9160&uid=170957505036#/group.php?gid=170957505036

  • Tiffany

    Actually, if it wasn’t for film archivists, FIAF, people like Scorsese and distributors like Criterion many of the “classics” and other international gems would not be available on DVD.
    To learn more about the film preservation movement read: Nitrate Won’t Wait; Silent Cinema, An Introduction; the Philosphy of Audiovisual Archiving; Museum Movies, The Museum of Modern Art and the Birth of Art Cinema and many others.

  • nano X

    —At last! -Scorsese has stopped
    lamely ‘remaking’ definitive classics -to restore the originals.

  • Carrolyn Myler

    why not ask people to pay money if you add their name to the credits. use the money to save the movies.

  • how to get ipad for free

    Woah this blog is wonderful i really like studying your articles. Keep up the good work! You realize, many individuals are looking round for this info, you could aid them greatly.

  • ITIL certification

    I believe this is one of the such a lot vital info for me. And i am glad studying your article. However should observation on few normal issues, The site style is ideal, the articles is in point of fact nice : D. Just right task, cheers

Add your comment
The rules: Keep it clean, and stay on the subject - or we may delete your comment. If you see inappropriate language, e-mail us. An asterisk (*) indicates a required field.

When you click on the "Post Comment" button above to submit your comments, you are indicating your acceptance of and are agreeing to the Terms of Service. You can also read our Privacy Policy.

Latest Videos in Movies

Advertisement

TV Recaps

Powered by WordPress.com VIP