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Wexner Center celebrates cinema and preserves history through film restoration

A scene from the film ‘The Crime of Monsieur Lange’, one of the films to be featured in the fourth annual “Cinema Revival: A Festival of Film Restoration”. Credit: Courtesy of Rialto Pictures

The fourth-annual “Cinema Revival: A Festival of Film Restoration” will celebrate 13 films and feature two world premieres beginning Feb. 22 at the Wexner Center for the Arts.

Throughout the six-day festival, revitalized classics by renowned directors Jim Jarmusch, Philippe de Broca, Barbara Hammer, Francis Ford Coppola and Med Hondo will be screened.

The event also will feature talks with expert voices in restoration such as American Zoetrope, Cohen Film Collection, The Criterion Collection and 20th Century Fox.

“I’m really excited that we’re going to have two world premieres and by two very well-known filmmakers — Jim Jarmusch, and his film ‘Dead Man,’ and then Francis Coppola’s ‘Dementia 13,’” said David Filipi, director of film/video for the Wexner Center.

Each year, Filipi chooses films to celebrate while giving voice to film preservation and restoration from professionals in the field. He said the idea originated after visiting Bologna, Italy, to attend Il Cinema Ritrovato, a festival dedicated to archival cinema restoration.

“Unless people hear from the experts, they don’t really appreciate what it takes to make a film look like this,” Filipi said. “People will get a really good sense of the time that goes into [restoration] and also just how much the people doing the work really care about it.”

Tim Lanza, vice president and archivist of Cohen Film Collection, will introduce one of these films, “King of Hearts,” on the fourth day of screenings.

“Without awareness for the need to preserve and restore, we already have lost a huge percentage of what I think is the most important art form,” Lanza said.

Filipi said preserving and restoring film material to a good condition requires many resources and years of work to save culturally and historically important cinema that would otherwise disappear.

This cinema includes Med Hondo’s “Soleil Ô,” which will be shown the first day of the festival. The film was restored with the help of the African Film Heritage Project, an initiative by director Martin Scorsese’s film foundation to restore and preserve African cinema.

“It was really about restoring Africa’s film treasures and making them available to be seen around the world, but then more importantly making sure they can be seen in their country of origin,” Filipi said.

“Cinema Revival: A Festival of Film Restoration” publicizes a wide array of these films and filmmakers to bring attention to stories like “Soleil Ô.”

“There is a change that’s happening, and I think in part because of what the [Wexner Center] is doing,” Lanza said. “I think raising the awareness of the need for preservation and restoration has, over the past few years, begun to work.”

The event will take place Feb. 22–27 in Weigel Hall at the Wexner Center. Admission is $30 for students and $35 for the general public for a festival-long pass.

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