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MoMA’s Ninth Annual International Festival of Film Preservation Showcases Newly Restored Masterworks and Rediscoveries

The Museum of Modern Art presents To Save and Project: The Ninth MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation, the annual festival of preserved and restored films from archives, studios, and distributors around the world, from October 14 through November 19, 2011. This year’s festival comprises over 35 films from 14 countries, virtually all of them having their New York premieres, and some shown in versions never before seen in the United States. Complementing the annual festival is a retrospective devoted to filmmaker Jack Smith, featuring 11 newly struck prints acquired for MoMA’s collection and introduced on November 13 by Mario Montez, star of Smith’s Flaming Creatures (1962–63) and Normal Love (1963–65). To Save and Project is organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art.

Opening this year’s festival is Joe Dante’s digital preservation of The Movie Orgy (1968). Dante, who created some of the best genre-bending movies of the past 40 years, including Piranha, The Howling, Gremlins, and Matinee, will introduce a rare screening of The Movie Orgy on October 14. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, he and Jon Davidson traveled to college campuses across America to screen this 4½ hour, politically edged extravaganza composed of Saturday matinee B-movie trailers, commercials, army training films, sex hygiene films, newscasts, music clips, and Christian kiddie programs. On October 15, Dante will also introduce his episode “It’s a Good Life” from Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983), and Roger Corman’s The Intruder (1962), starring William Shatner as a white supremacist who foments racial violence in the deep South.

On November 7, Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker will introduce Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1942), newly restored by the Academy Film Archive in association with the BFI, ITV Studios Global Entertainment Ltd., and The Film Foundation. On November 11, the hand-painted color version of Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon) (1902), unseen for 109 years until its glorious new restoration by Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage, is presented together with the world premiere of Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange’s documentary The Extraordinary Voyage (2011). A special evening dedicated to Saul Bass, presented by MoMA and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on November 14, will feature some of the designer’s iconic title sequences and commercials, as well as the New York premiere of his Academy Award-winning short Why Man Creates (1968), newly preserved by the Academy Film Archive.

Festival highlights includes such masterworks as Soviet filmmaker Mikhail Kalatozov’s rediscovered A Nail in the Boot (1931), shown with Salt for Svanetia (1930); Marcel Carné’s fatalist romance Le Quai des brumes (Port of Shadows) (1938), written by Jacques Prévert and starring Jean Gabin; Raúl Ruiz’s first feature film, Tres tristes tigres (1968), made in his native Chile; Ken Loach’s Kes (1969), a moving portrait of a boy and his kestrel; Claude Lanzmann’s hauntingly prescient documentary Pourquoi Israël (Israel, Why) (1973), which premiered three days after the Yom Kippur War and forms a loose trilogy with Shoah (1985) and Tsahal (1994); Seijun Suzuki’s deliriously hyper-stylized Zigeunerweisen (1980); and a tribute to underground legend George Kuchar, featuring new prints of I, An Actress (1977), Wild Night in El Reno (1977), and other short films. Four classics of Italian cinema are also presented: two by Alberto Lattuada, Il Cappotto (1952)—an adaptation of Gogol’s The Overcoat—and La Spiaggia (1954), the film that helped usher in the commedia all’italiana of the 1950s; and two starring Marcello Mastroianni, Elio Petri’s existential crime thriller L’Assassino (The Assassin) (1961) and Ettore Scola’s melodramatic satire Dramma della gelosia (The Pizza Triangle/Drama of Jealousy) (1970).

Several rediscoveries preserved by MoMA will be shown, including Frank Lloyd’s Hoop-la (1933), a risqué pre-Code Fox comedy featuring Clara Bow in her last screen performance; Leonard Kastle’s cult melodrama The Honeymoon Killers (1969); Elaine May’s neglected masterpiece Mikey and Nicky (1976), starring Peter Falk and John Cassavetes, which she will introduce on November 9; and Gabriel (1976), a beautiful experimental film by the painter Agnes Martin, which MoMA has preserved through a unique collaboration with The Pace Gallery, New York. Gabriel will be presented by Arne Glimcher, founder of The Pace Gallery; Douglas Crimp, art critic and curator; and the artist Zoe Leonard. Also premiered are the films of Stuart Sherman, co-preserved by MoMA, Anthology Film Archives, and The Warhol Foundation, that relate to the performance artist’s tabletop “Spectacles” of the 1970s, and to his collaborations with Charles Ludlam in the early days of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company and with Richard Foreman’s Ontological-Hysteric Theater.

This year, MoMA celebrates the preservation work of Twentieth Century Fox by showcasing five CinemaScope and widescreen films in a variety of genres. Presented by Schawn Belston, Senior Vice President, Library and Technical Services, Fox Filmed Entertainment, the selection includes Don Weis’ Orientalist fantasy The Adventures of Hajji Baba (1954); Richard Fleischer’s melodrama of the Stanford White murder, The Girl in the Red Velvet Swing (1955); Edward Dmytryk’s underappreciated western Warlock (1959), starring Richard Widmark and Henry Fonda; and Bob Fosse’s musical All That Jazz (1979). On November 5, the writer-director Walter Hill makes a special appearance to introduce his action thriller The Driver (1978), whose car chase sequences continue to influence filmmakers and thrill audiences.

The festival also honors the preservation work of the Archives du film de CNC, Bois d’Arcy, France’s national repository of cinema. Featured works include Forugh Farrokhzad’s landmark Iranian film The House Is Black (1963), as well as Louis Malle’s Calcutta (1969), Boris Kaufman’s Les Halles centrales (1927), André Survage’s Etudes sur Paris (1928), and Victor Trivas’s Niemandsland (Hell on Earth) (1931), presented by Eric Le Roy, chef de service at the CNC and president of FIAF, the International Federation of Film Archives. Le Roy will also introduce two programs of rarely-screened early work by Jean Rouch, the groundbreaking ethnographic documentarian, one devoted to his films in the West African countries of Niger and Mali and the other to his studies of architecture.

A series of special events are presented throughout the festival. On October 27, Katie Trainor, MoMA’s Film Collections Manager, commemorates UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisial Heritage with an evening of sounds and images that have been drawn from the rich archival community of New York City, from breathtaking 1930s footage of Tibet to the recorded voices of working-class immigrants who lived in a Lower East Side tenement. On October 29, Stefan Drössler, director of the Munich Filmmuseum, presents an illustrated history of 3-D, tracing the development of a cinema technology that has thrived throughout the world from the 19th century to today, and then introduces Robinzon Kruso (1947) by Soviet director Aleksandr Andriyevsky, widely regarded as the first feature-length 3-D film and praised by Sergei Eisenstein.

On October 30, Cruel and Unusual Comedy from the Desmet Collection of the EYE Film Institute, The Netherlands: A Special Concert, comprises two revelatory and often shocking programs of early European film comedy, with original music performed live by award-winning composer Donald Sosin and his NYC Eclectic Electric Band. Centering on representative themes of sex, violence, madness, music, and science fiction, this selection from the invaluable collection of Dutch film distributor Jean Desmet anticipates the fuller retrospective that will take place at MoMA in 2012, organized by Ron Magliozzi, Associate Curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art; accompanist-historian Ben Model; and historian Steve Massa; in collaboration with archivist Elif Rongen-Kaynakci, EYE Film Institute, The Netherlands. On October 31, Alejandro Jodorowsky (Chilean, b. 1929) introduces his visionary 1973 cult film The Holy Mountain, followed by an onstage Modern Mondays conversation with Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1 and Chief Curator at Large of The Museum of Modern Art; and Joshua Siegel.

An annual festival sidebar is dedicated to the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, co-founded in 1995 by The Museum of Modern Art and New York Women in Film and Television, on November 2. This year’s program, selected by Anne Morra, MoMA’s Associate Film Curator, and Drake Stutesman, Co-Chair of the WFPF, revisits the films of choreographer/dancer Elaine Summers, whose innovative performances at New York’s Judson Memorial Church in the early 1960s remain influential. Among the festival’s small gems is Lidia García Millán’s Color (1958), an abstract animation that is considered the first of its kind from Uruguay.

All of the films in To Save and Project have been recently preserved and restored by archives around the world, including MoMA’s Department of Film, as well as by Hollywood and European studios and distributors. Go here for a full schedule.

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