Lumière Film Market Debates Film Restoration

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Public action and private initiatives will ensure the preservation and distribution of heritage film, declared the key players gathered for the 10e edition of the Classic Film Market in Lyon.

The round table brought together Sophie Seydoux, President of the Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé Foundation; Olivier Snanoudj, senior VP cinema distribution at Warner Bros. France ; BFI Executive Director of Knowledge and Collections, Arike Oke; Elodie Drouard, film program adviser at France Télévisions, and the director of the Cineteca di Bologna, Gian Luca Farinelli.

With regard to financing the restoration of films, all agreed that this cannot be done without public aid.

“Public funding accounts for approximately 22% of our restoration costs. Economic profitability is impossible on restorations, we could not do it without the CNC [the national film fund]”, said Seydoux, whose foundation – a separate entity from Pathé, dedicated to the preservation, restoration and enhancement of the cinematographic heritage belonging to the historical French society – restores about fifteen films a year.

The same goes for the British Film Institute’s archives, which receives around 40% of its budget as a grant, a direct grant from the UK government, Oke said. Other sources include philanthropic trusts – notably the Martin Scorsese Film Foundation – the National Lottery Fund, publishers and industry partners.

In Italy, “the public contribution is essential,” said Farinelli, who lamented recent changes to the law reducing public subsidies for film restoration, adding: “The Cineteca depends on private bodies for about a third of the cost This is very important, especially since it is rare for rights holders in Italy to put money into restoring films.

“I don’t understand this passivity on the part of private players: there are companies that have exceptional catalogs, which manage hundreds or even thousands of titles, and they do nothing,” said Farinelli, who also regretted a lack of public policies to support the broadcasting of Italian heritage cinema on public television.

France Télévisions, on the other hand, has four regular programs dedicated to cinema, including two on heritage cinema – one of them, “Cinéma de Minuit” is a national institution, which has existed for almost half a century, said Elodie Drouard. .

This terrestrial offer is supplemented by the France Télévisions platform, France.tv, which aims to “offer around 200 films per year, independently of our terrestrial offer”, she specified.

“What this allows us to do is to offer films where there is no positioning on terrestrial TV. For example, being a partner of the Lumière Festival gives us a golden opportunity to show the diversity of heritage cinema: If you visit our platform, you will discover the documentary “Histoire(s) du Cinéma” by Godard and some of his short films, as well as a collection of seven films by Wim Wenders and ‘Big Fish’ by Tim Burton,” she said.

Burton is the recipient of the festival’s Lumière Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s edition.

Film festivals like Lumière, and especially Cannes, are ideal partner meetings for channels and studios to boost the visibility of heritage films.

“It’s part of our business model,” said Olivier Snanouj, who explained that alongside his daily collaborations with French distributors and the Cinémathèque française, Warner Bros France also uses festivals as a springboard for his restorations.

These range from cult classics like Stanley Kubrick’s ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, whose recent restoration was overseen by Christopher Nolan and released to much fanfare as part of the Cannes Classics sidebar at the 2020 Cannes Film Festival, to Sydney Lumet’s restorations published to coincide with this edition of Lumière, and lesser-known works.

“Several years ago, [late Lumière fest president] At the request of Bertrand Tavernier, we released 10 copies of films from before the Code era which were not very well known, which had a theatrical release at Lumière”, explains Snanoudj.

Another source of revenue is the sale of DVDs and Blu-Rays of heritage films, which are helping support the declining home video market. “Digitization has played a huge role,” Snanoudj said. “Before the ’80s, studios didn’t care about legacy films. With the advent of DVDs and bonus sets, everyone started looking for content in their catalogs and realized that there was a need to restore movies. Thanks to DVDs and dedicated platforms, as well as certain TV slots, there is a constant demand for heritage films, and that’s reassuring.

While this may be the case, the MIFC panel and audience were quick to add that for this to happen it is vital that rights holders play the game, which remains a real challenge with most large studios.

Concluding the roundtable, panelists agreed on the need to educate young audiences through public policy programs and private initiatives, to ensure that film heritage remains a priority for generations to come.

The 10th edition of the MIFC de Lumière takes place alongside the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon, from October 19 to 21.

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