November 23, 2016: Satyajit Ray is regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of the 20th century. He was born into a Bengali family prominent in the field of art and literature.
He has received numerous awards at the national and international film festivals. He received an Honorary Academy Award in 1992 at the 64th Academy Awards. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna, nation’s highest civilian award in 1992.
A Workshop was conducted by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) at the Kala Academy in IFFI 2016 on 23rd November on the restoration of ‘Satyajit Ray Preservation Project’. The workshop explained in detail the challenges faced in restoring the films. The workshop was moderated by the Indian Filmmaker, film archivist and restorer and producer, Shivendra Dungarpur.
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The Ray Preservation Project began after he was awarded the honorary Academy Award in 1992
According to PTI, the workshop was presented by the Short Film Preservationist at AMPAS, Miss Tess Idlewine. She is an inventory film archivist at the AMPAS. She has specialized in film archiving, film handling and identification and preservation and conservation.
In the workshop, she elaborated the praiseworthy efforts of the academy, undertaken to restore and preserve Satyajit Ray’s films. She has worked on restoring 21 classics of Satyajit Ray including Apu Trilogy. She said that it is heartbreaking to see the deplorable conditions of these iconic films.
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Tessa told PTI, “We have had a few years break from working on it. The last one we finished was in 2012, but we have not forgotten about Ray. It is our goal to finish them. We will never forget him.”
The Academy aims at preserving all the 37 films of Satyajit Ray.
In July 1993, a fire broke out at the Hendersons Film Laboratories situated in South London. The fire damaged many of the Ray’s films that were on their way to be preserved in Los Angeles.
The Academy worked jointly with and L’Immagine Ritrovata in Bologna, Italy and the Criterion Collection to restore the Ray’s Apu trilogy, Pather Panchali” (1955), “Aparajito” (1956) and “Apur Sansar” (1959).
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It took them about 20 years since the fire broke out and burned all the negatives. Some of the films were badly damaged. The footage still smells of fire.
Preservation is a long process. It takes thousands of hours of labor and a lot of money.
At the International Film Festival of India, Tessa spoke about the saved films, “It was so heartbreaking. It still smells of fire. There is barely any footage left in the cans. Despite knowing that we have saved them, it is truly heartbreaking. To see them in such a terrible shape is sad.”
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