Officially launched at the press conference today, the World Cinema Foundation is a non-profit organization that is to contribute financial support to the restoration and distribution of films from all over the world. Joining Martin Scorsese on today’s panel of filmmakers were Souleymanne Cisse, Gianluca Farinelli, Ermanno Olmi, Walter Salles, Wong Kar Wai, Ahmed El Maanouni and Fatih Akin.
Martin Scorsese on the origins: “This goes back to the founding of the Film Foundation in America, with myself and George Lucas, and Spielberg, and Coppola, and Pollack, Stanley Kubrick and Eastwood, where we began to understand with the archives that if we were to combine our influence as filmmakers, we could put pressure upon the studios and other areas as so many American films have been neglected and some have lost their rights, out there like orphan films. We could take that influence and create a different way of thinking about cinema patrimony in America. And that was started in 1990. During that time we kept thinking that wouldn’t it be great if we could do that internationally, particularly with countries that may not have the ability to get the support and finances to restore certain films…It’s the tenacity and the obsession of the filmmaker that I’m hoping we will be able to deal with here.”
Martin Scorsese on the impact of watching international movies: “I saw a great deal of films on television, in particular, and I remember learning something about India from watching a Satyajit Ray’s films, not from watching film about India made by other countries and this opened a whole world to me. Foreign films on television introduced so many different cultures to me. What may happen is that we re-influence each other and that creates a new kind of cinema that is right her in Cannes. But most importantly is that once we begin to understand, we’ll begin to have less of a feeling of strangeness towards other cultures. This hopefully can bring about some political understanding.”
Walter Salles on preserving cinema history: “A sentence said by Glauber Rocha, producer and also director of photography: ‘A country without cinema or cinema history is like a house without mirrors.’ So you understand rapidly that the question of preserving films is preserving cultural identity.”
Souleymane Cissé on the preservation of film in Africa: "This Foundation represents hope for us in Africa, because we are more and more aware of the multitude of problems on the continent… In many African countries there is no such thing as the film preservation. We organized a festival in the center of Africa and we invited Serge Toubiana, head of the French Cinematheque. We wanted him to talk about preservation, yet we were reminded that we were in a region where people are scrambling to find food and that is where the filmmakers came together to talk about the preservation of their identity. To put it simply, I think Martin Scorsese has a strong place in his heart for humanity and a great foresight. He came to us and we have joined the battle wholeheartedly, because it is essential to our survival. Our films are beginning to raise buzz. If in 15 or even 30 years down the line, these films are no longer visible, well, we will cease to exist."
Wong Kar Wai on the Hong Kong Film Archives: “Actually I think the films before 1949 are well preserved in China. Perhaps it’s the habits of the Chinese; they like to keep things…In the past few years they have been trying to restore them, like one of my favorites: Springtime in a Small Town. After 1949, Hong Kong Film Archives have been the center for entertainment for all the overseas Chinese communities. A few years ago I went to Chinatown in San Francisco and we realized there’s a warehouse outside of San Francisco with hundreds of titles. And I think all these films are something very important, to link all of the Chinese around the world because they have something to share. So we are trying to get these film shipped to the Hong Kong Film Archives.”