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The Wexner Center for the Arts preserves a moment in history with film festival

A still from “Expresso Bongo” from the Cohen Film Collection. Credit: Courtesy of Cohen Film Collection

David Filipi believes preserving film is a race against time.

“There’s never enough money. There are never enough people. For every film saved, a few disintegrate,” said Filipi, director of film/video for the Wexner Center for the Arts.

The third season of “Cinema Revival: A Festival of Film Restoration” is set to begin on Wednesday at The Wex.

In any given year, the Wex shows a number of film restorations, so Filipi said he decided to create an event that grouped together all of these films to call greater attention to the cause of film restoration.

The festival will feature 11 restored films selected by Filipi. He chooses films by attending festivals across the world which highlight newly-restored archival films.

“It’s hard to pick just one favorite out of these films,” Filipi said.

Filipi said he guarantees people will love “Sound Restoration at the Criterion Collection: The Beatles, Bob Dylan & The Who.”  This is the only one in the series that will be offered free to the public and displays sound restoration.

“Shoes,” a 1916 film directed by Lois Weber, will be an opportunity for viewers to learn about an important female director in a time when it was uncommon for women to direct films, Filipi said.

In addition to the selection of the restored films, Filipi also chose a speaker to introduce each film. Speakers include experts from companies such as Sony, Disney and the Criterion Collection.

Among these experts is Tim Lanza, vice president and archivist at the Cohen Film Collection in Columbus. Lanza will discuss “Expresso Bongo,” a British musical film he helped restore.

“When we started restoring this film with the British Film Institute, the material we had was longer than theirs,” Lanza said. “We realized our material had five songs that were cut out of the original film, so we restored the songs and put them back into our version.”

Lanza said “Expresso Bongo” is a film which he hopes captures how important film preservation and restoration is.

Filipi said he anticipates this festival will not only engage the local community, but that it will also draw people from out of town.

“We take a lot of pride in screening films in the best possible environment,” Filipi said. “We strive for the best picture and great sound. I hope people are able to tear themselves away from their iPhone, iPad or Netflix to come see these films as they were intended to be screened.”

“Cinema Revival: A Festival of Film Restoration” will run Wednesday through Sunday at The Wex. Single tickets are $6 for members, students and seniors and $8 for the general public. Passes for the entire festival are $30 for members, students and seniors, and $35 for the general public.

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