Rare Arab film treasures to be preserved for future generations

Published May 18th, 2009 - 10:32 GMT
Al Bawaba
Al Bawaba

Rare Arab film treasures to be preserved for future generations

DIFF Partners with World Cinema Foundation to Protect Middle Eastern Cinema Heritage

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) today announced its partnership with the World Cinema Foundation (WCF), an international body set up by cinema legend Martin Scorsese to call attention to the cause of film preservation and restoration.

The organization preserves prints of non-Hollywood films that are important milestones in regional cinemas but which are in danger of being lost due to improper storage, lack of funds for restoration, or neglect.

Masoud Amralla al Ali, DIFF’s Artistic Director, stated: “Arab film has a pedigree that dates back a century, and older cinema works must be preserved to enable younger generations to see what this region is capable of and to inspire us to continue to develop. It is ironic that even the most powerful works of cinema are so fragile that left unattended they will crumble and be lost to us forever.”

The World Cinema Foundation was announced by Scorsese at Cannes 2007 in the presence of a number of the world’s foremost directors.

The inaugural film chosen for restoration was Transes, a 1981 musical documentary by Muhr Awards jury member and Moroccan filmmaker Ahmad al Maanouni. The film documents the important Moroccan musical group Nass el Ghiwan, whom Scorsese has called ‘the Rolling Stones of North Africa.’ Transes caught the filmmaker’s eye during late-night screenings in 1981, and since then became ‘an obsession’ with him. Amongst the most recent works is the restoration of never before seen footage of Ingmar Bergman at work, shooting on the set of Sawdust and Tinsel (1953), screened as part of the Cannes Classics presentation in 2008.

The Foundation’s Board comprises some of the most respected filmmakers from across the globe including Turkish director Fatih Akin, Mexican directors Guillermo Del Toro & Alejandro Gonzales Inarritu, Stephen Frears from the UK, Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, Indo-Canadian director Deepa Mehta, Ermanno Olmi from Italy, Elia Suleiman from Palestine, German filmmaker Wim Wenders and Wong Kar Wai from China.

The Dubai International Film Festival will celebrate its sixth year from December 9 to 16, 2009.

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