Batang West Side, 2001, Lav Diaz

Second Lives
Recent Restorations from the Austrian Film Museum

February 26 to March 11, 2015


Over the past ten years, the Austrian Film Museum has restored and preserved around 350 films, sometimes in a joint effort with other FIAF archives and often in close collaboration with the artists themselves. This program assembles a selection of 35 preserved works from many different genres and formats, created between 1907 and 2001. They include classics as well as anonymous artifacts, avant-garde masterpieces and previously unknown documents of the 20th century.
The program focuses on specific parts of the Film Museum’s collection – certain ideas of cinema that were implemented over the decades through the museum’s acquisition, research and exhibition policies. Common to many of these areas of film history is the fact that commercial rights-holders have had limited or no interest in them – and that, therefore, the long-term conservation of such works has been much more at risk than in the case of the easily exploitable “product” held by the studios and major producers of popular cinema. It is mainly due to the work of the culturally-oriented film archives and museums that the “non-industrial” forms of cinema (or those that are no longer profitable in a capitalist sense) have survived.
The selection for this program includes restored artists’ films (by Dušan Makavejev, Heinz Emigholz and James Benning, among others) as well as several works of early cinema (stencil-colored "travelogues" of the early 1910s, Max Linder comedies, or a feature by one of Europe’s first female directors: Das Teufelchen by Rosa Porten, made in 1917). Other areas to which the Museum has dedicated a lot of attention are the Soviet avant-garde of the 1920s (restorations of Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera and Fedor Ocep's The Living Corpse) and Austrian independent cinema (represented here by Ulrich Seidl’s early works and Ernst Schmidt Jr.’s Wienfilm, among others) – as well as the so-called "ephemeral" forms of cinema: commercials, movie trailers, home movies, outtakes or screen tests. The latter groups are represented here by outtakes from the 1921 screen adaptation of The Three Musketeers starring Douglas Fairbanks and by an “artist’s test” with Oskar Werner for The Shoes of the Fisherman, trying out for a role that would later go to Anthony Quinn – the pope.
Finally, three major works of modern Asian cinema, all preserved in collaboration with the filmmakers and/or producers, have been selected for this series: Forugh Farrokhzad's The House Is Black (1963), Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Mysterious Object at Noon (2000) and Lav Diaz' Batang West Side (2001). They represent the necessity for film archives today to apply a global perspective, considering that in many non-Western cinematographies the means to restore and preserve the locally-produced cinema are still very limited. The screening of the five-hour Batang West Side, one of the central works in the canon of Philippine cinema, opens the series.

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