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To Save and Project: MoMA Festival of Film Preservation

To Save and Project, MoMA’s international film preservation festival, celebrates its seventh year with gloriously preserved masterworks and rediscoveries of world cinema, nearly all of which are having their New York premieres. The exhibition opens with a weeklong theatrical run of John Cassavetes’s A Woman Under the Influence (1974), which will be introduced by Gena Rowlands on October 24, 2009.

Also featured are two classics of 1950s Italian melodrama that differ radically in their styles and portrayals of complex women: Luchino Visconti’s Senso (1954), an impossibly beautiful Technicolor romance starring Alida Valli and Farley Granger; and Michelangelo Antonioni’s modernist breakthrough Le Amiche (1955).

MoMA premieres its own restoration of Robert Flaherty’s landmark Nanook of the North (1922), and celebrates the superlative preservation work of Sony Pictures Repertory by inviting Grover Crisp, Senior Vice President of Asset Management, Film Restoration & Digital Mastering, to present four stunning new restorations: Frank Capra’s Forbidden(1933), a pre-Code gem starring Barbara Stanwyck (shown with a rare, behind-the-scenes Columbia short with Capra himself); Richard Brooks’s unjustly neglected all-star Western The Professionals (1966); and Bob Rafelson’s The King of Marvin Gardens (1972), starring Jack Nicholson. 

The festival continues in November with special screenings of two silent Swedish classics—Victor Sjöström’s The Phantom Chariot (1921) and Benjamin Christensen’s Häxan: Witchcraft through the Ages (1922)—introduced by Jon Wengström, curator of the Swedish Film Institute, and featuring enchanting original scores performed live by Sweden’s Matti Bye Ensemble. Wengström also introduces the rarely seen bilingual version of Ingmar Bergman’s The Touch (1971).

On November 11, the artist Kara Walker introduces one of the most beautiful animated films ever made, Lotte Reiniger’s The Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926). An entire program is dedicated to home movies, offering a tantalizing glimpse into the private lives of Alfred Hitchcock and Joan Crawford, among other homespun pleasures. Restorations of two seminal documentaries of the 1960s are premiered: Chris Marker and Pierre Lhomme’s Le joli mai (1963), and Far from Vietnam(1967), a collaborative work by Marker, Jean-Luc Godard, Joris Ivens, Alain Resnais, Agnès Varda, and others. The festival also features films by Stanley Kubrick, Jean Epstein, Kim Ki-young, and Lester James Peries, and it ends on a sublime note with Marcel L’Herbier’s masterpiece L’Argent (1928), a timely tale of capitalist greed and a landmark of radically experimental studio filmmaking.

Organized by Joshua Siegel, Associate Curator; Anne Morra, Assistant Curator; and Katie Trainor, Film Collections Manager, Department of Film. 

The festival is supported in part by The 42nd Street Fund and the Consulate General of Sweden, New York.

Film Screening Details

A Woman Under the Influence

1974. USA. Written and directed by John Cassavetes. With Gena Rowlands, Peter Falk. Preserved by the UCLA Film and Television Archive in association with Faces Distribution, with funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation. 155 min.
Saturday, October 24, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Gena Rowlands)
Friday, October 30, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Thursday, October 29, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Wednesday, October 28, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Monday, October 26, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Sunday, October 25, 2009, 3:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1

Nanook of the North
1922. USA. Directed, photographed, edited, and coproduced by Robert Flaherty. MoMA presents the world premiere of its newly restored and tinted original silent release of Flaherty’s landmark debut film. A pioneering work of “fictionalized” nonfiction cinema—which seems as timely and provocative as ever in today’s age of staged film reenactments—Nanook is a dramatic portrait of Inuit culture, ritual, and survival in the harsh northern wilderness, famous for its walrus hunt and igloo-building scenes. Silent. Approx. 75 min.
Sunday, October 25, 2009, 1:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (With piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin)
Saturday, October 31, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (With piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin)

Le Amiche
1955. Italy. Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. With Eleonora Rossi Drago, Valentina Cortese. Antonioni’s first great success, awarded the coveted Silver Lion at Venice in 1955, is a coolly dispassionate portrayal of young socialite women in Rome and Turin. Forging the modernist style for which he would become legendary, Antonioni depicts the circle of women—their creative aspirations, bourgeois mores, petty jealousies, and ill-fated romances—with an emotional detachment that exposes an underlying sense of isolation, aimlessness, and longing. Restored by Cineteca di Bologna at L’Immagine Ritrovata with funding provided by Gucci and The Film Foundation. In Italian; English subtitles. 104 min.
Sunday, October 25, 2009, 6:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Thursday, October 29, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1

1954. Italy. Directed by Luchino Visconti. With Alida Valli, Farley Granger. This masterpiece of Italian cinema is one of the most glorious color films ever made. Visconti’s love of spectacle was counterbalanced by his insistence on naturalism and restraint in his actors’ performances. Never was this more evident than in Senso, his triumphant, operatic tragedy about the destructive love affair between an Italian countess and a young Austrian officer (played with heartrending subtlety by Valli and Granger) during the Risorgimento of the mid-1860s. Restored by Studiocanal, Centro Sperimentale di Cinematografia/Cineteca Nazionale, Cineteca di Bologna/L’Immagine Ritrovato. Funding provided by Gucci, The Film Foundation, and Comitato Italia 150. In Italian; English subtitles. 123 min.
Monday, October 26, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Wednesday, October 28, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1

The King of Marvin Gardens
1972. USA. Directed by Bob Rafelson. Screenplay by Jacob Brackman. With Jack Nicholson, Bruce Dern, Ellen Burstyn. After the success of Five Easy Pieces, Rafelson and Nicholson reunited to make this underappreciated but key work of 1970s Hollywood cinema, a corrosive vision of the American Dream that is a ghostly anticipation of present times. The deserted boardwalks and seedy, decaying splendor of out-of-season Atlantic City form the wintry backdrop to this drama of two brothers, a late-night talk show host and a restless ex-con, who get mixed up with the Mob while hatching a get-rich-quick scheme to open a South Seas gambling resort. Preserved by Sony Pictures Repertory. 103 min.
Friday, October 30, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Grover Crisp)
Sunday, November 1, 2009, 2:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1

The Professionals
1966. USA. Written and directed by Richard Brooks. With Burt Lancaster, Lee Marvin, Robert Ryan, Claudia Cardinale, Jack Palance, Woody Strode. Featuring an all-star cast and stunning widescreen Technicolor cinematography by the great Conrad Hall, Brooks’s underrated Western anticipates Sam Peckinpah’s The Wild Bunch (1969) and Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) with its gripping action sequences and its themes of loyalty and heroism. A ragtag band of mercenaries storms into revolutionary 1917 Mexico to rescue the wife of a wealthy Texas rancher, only to discover that she has fallen for her bandit kidnapper. Preserved by Sony Pictures Repertory. 117 min.
Saturday, October 31, 2009, 2:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Grover Crisp)
Friday, November 6, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2

Screen Shots 1933. USA
Frank Capra takes us behind the scenes at the Columbia Pictures studio, where he is busy making The Bitter Tea of General Yen. 10 min.

1932. USA. Directed by Frank Capra. With Barbara Stanwyck, Adolphe Menjou, Ralph Bellamy. A major influence on John Cassavetes, Capra was, by the early 1930s, one of Hollywood’s most celebrated and successful directors. His subversive, satirical, even caustic portraits of hallowed American institutions including the church (The Miracle Woman), Wall Street (American Madness), and marriage (Ladies of Leisure, Platinum Blonde) were an important strain of his remarkable pre-Code period. In Forbidden, Stanwyck shows off her seemingly boundless range as Lulu Smith, a prim, self-sacrificing librarian who reinvents herself during a luxury cruise to Havana, becoming an independent, uninhibited “new woman” and the “lonely hearts” columnist for a big-city paper. Preserved by Sony Pictures Repertory. 83 min.
Saturday, October 31, 2009, 5:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Grover Crisp)
Monday, November 2, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1

Women’s Film Preservation Fund Program
Sunday, November 1, 2009, 5:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1

Mama, Don’t Take My Kodachrome Away! A Celebration of Home Movies
Monday, November 2, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 3, mezzanine, Education and Research Building
Monday, November 9, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2

Jean Epstein and Stanley Kubrick: At Sea
Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Thursday, November 5, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2

Hanyo (The Housemaid)
1960. South Korea. Written, directed, and edited by Kim Ki-young. With Lee Eun-shim, Kim Jin-kyu, Ju Jeung-nyeo. Celebrated as one of the greatest Korean films of all time,Hanyo is an intense psychosexual chamber piece about a composer who nearly destroys his family by sleeping with the new housemaid, a disturbed woman who likes to catch rats with her bare hands. Kim Ki-young is a major influence on today’s generation of South Korean filmmakers, including Kim Ki-duk and Bong Joon-ho; comparing him to Luis Buñuel,Cahiers du cinéma critic Jean-Michel Frodon writes that Kim “[probes] deep into the human mind, its desires and impulses, while paying sarcastic attention to the details....," while noting that "the shocking nature of the film is both disturbing and pleasurable..." Restored by the Korean Film Archive with the support of the World Cinema Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded by Martin Scorsese and dedicated to the preservation of films from developing and non-Western countries. In Korean; English subtitles. 110 min.
Thursday, November 5, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Monday, November 16, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1

Beröringen (The Touch)
1971. Sweden. Written and directed by Ingmar Bergman. With Bibi Andersson, Max von Sydow, Elliott Gould. “One of Bergman’s lesser-known films, The Touch is a low-key, intimate drama set on the island of Gotland, just south of the filmmaker’s home in Fårö. Shortly after her mother’s death, a Swedish woman has an adulterous affair with the American archaeologist friend of her doctor husband. Andersson creates a finely tuned portrayal of a woman facing a midlife crisis, and the sparsely lit, claustrophobic interiors and subdued autumnal exteriors are beautifully photographed by cinematographer Sven Nykvist. The Touch, a Swedish-U.S. coproduction, was shot and released in two versions: one with Swedish and English dialogue, and one entirely in English. The original bilingual version—the version released in Sweden and now presented in this Festival—has been unavailable for a long time” (Jon Wengström). Restored by The Swedish Film Institute. In Swedish and English; English subtitles. 115 min.

Ingmar Bergman
1972. Sweden. Directed by Stig Björkman. In this fascinating film about the making of The Touch, Bergman rehearses with actors Andersson, von Sydow, and Gould; discusses set-ups with cinematographer Nykvist; and talks in depth about his views on directing. Preserved by The Swedish Film Institute. In Swedish; English subtitles. 55 min.
Friday, November 6, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Sunday, November 8, 2009, 5:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1

Körkarlen (The Phantom Chariot)
1931. Sweden. Directed by Victor Sjöström. Screenplay by Sjöström, based on the novel by Selma Lagerlöf. With Sjöström, Hilda Borgström, Tore Svennberg. A special screening of Sjöström’s silent masterpiece, introduced by Jon Wengström with a hauntingly beautiful original score performed live by the Matti Bye ensemble from Sweden. The Phantom Chariot solidified Sjöström’s reputation in Europe, eventually leading to a career in Hollywood and an unforgettable role in Ingmar Bergman’s Wild Strawberries (1957). Seeking the company of friends and alcohol on New Year’s Eve, David Holm (Sjöström) abandons his impoverished family. As he reflects on a life of miserable misdeeds—portrayed through a series of evocative flashbacks and densely layered photography—he becomes convinced that he will die and be condemned to drive “the Phantom Chariot” in expiation of his sins. Tinted print restored by The Swedish Film Institute. Silent, with Swedish and English intertitles. Approx. 106 min.

Saturday, November 7, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Jon Wengström; live musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye ensemble)

Häxan: Witchcraft through the Ages
1922. Sweden. Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen. With Christensen, Maren Pedersen, Clara Pontoppidan. “Häxanis arguably the most original and impressive of all Swedish silent films, and today is still a technically and cinematographically astonishing achievement. An eccentric mixture of didactic lecture and spectacular dramatization,Häxan recounts popular beliefs in the devil and superstition throughout the ages—with director Christensen himself playing Lucifer—and through striking imagery depicts the hypocrisy, sexual repression, and witch hunts of medieval times. Christensen was Danish, as was most of the cast and crew, but the film was entirely financed by the Swedish production company Svensk Filmindustri, which gave Christensen unprecedented artistic freedom and an enormous budget” (Jon Wengström). Tinted print restored by The Swedish Film Institute. Silent, with Swedish and English intertitles. Approx. 104 min.

Sunday, November 8, 2009, 2:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Introduced by Wengström; live musical accompaniment by the Matti Bye ensemble)
Friday, November 13, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (Piano accompaniment by Ben Model)

Gamperaliya (The Changing Village)
1964. Ceylon (Sri Lanka). Directed by Lester James Peries. Screenplay by Reggie Siriwardena, based on the novel by Martin Wickremasinghe. With Punya Hiendeniya, Henry Jayasena, Wikrema Bogoda. Lindsay Anderson, who joined Satyajit Ray in awarding Gamperaliya the Grand Prize at the 1965 Delhi Film Festival, praised Peries’s beautiful film for “its elegiac, near-Chekhovian grace.” Made at a pivotal moment in Sri Lanka’s history, as colonial caste society was being undermined by rising ethnic, religious, and class tensions, the film centers on the impossible love between a young Ceylonese teacher of English, who represents the emergent middle class, and a village girl whose aristocratic family faces declining fortunes. Restored by UCLA Film and Television Archive, with funds from The Stanford Theatre Foundation. In Sinhala; English subtitles. 105 min.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 4:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Thursday, November 12, 2009, 4:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2

Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (The Adventures of Prince Achmed)
1926. Germany. Directed by Lotte Reiniger. On November 11, the artist Kara Walker introduces one of the greatest animated films of all time—indeed, the earliest feature-length animation still believed to exist: Reiniger’s magical retelling of tales fromA Thousand and One Nights. Reiniger, a pioneer of silhouette animation, would later recall of her collaborators on Prince Achmed that “Walter Ruttmann invented and created wonderful movements for the magic events, fire, volcanoes, battles of good and evil spirits, and Berthold Bartosch composed and cut out movement of waves for a sea storm, now a household [conceit] in animation but something quite new at the time.” Tinted print preserved by the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt; courtesy Milestone Films. Silent. 73 min.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009, 8:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1 (lntroduced by Kara Walker; piano accompaniment by Ben Model)
Sunday, November 15, 2009, 5:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2 (Piano accompaniment by Ben Model)

Loin du Viêtnam  (Far from Vietnam)
1967. France. Directed by Alain Resnais, William Klein, Joris Ivens, Agnès Varda, Claude Lelouch, Jean-Luc Godard.. Produced by Chris Marker and S.L.O.N. “A group of European filmmakers have put together a collective scenario composed of fact and fiction which, intentionally or not, makes an unequivocal statement of dissent. The views expressed are as individual as the personalities of the directors involved…but together they fuse into a composite reaction against a war being fought in a faraway place and dispassionately reported in the American press in terms of ‘kill ratios’….The reality of Vietnam is the conflict between the richest society in the world and one of the poorest, a conflict eloquently suggested in the contrast between the film’s opening sequence—the daily loading of bombs into aircraft-carriers in the Gulf of Tonkin—and newsreel footage of the people of Hanoi running to cover their pathetically inadequate improvised shelters....The dilemma for these filmmakers, and for us, is that we are ‘far from Vietnam,’ conscious both of our involvement and of the impotence forced on us by our non-revolutionary society” (David Wilson, Sight and Sound, 1967). Restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC; courtesy Sofracima. In French, English subtitles. 115 min.
Thursday, November 12, 2009, 7:00 p.m., Theater 2, T2
Saturday, November 14, 2009, 5:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1

Le joli mai
1963. France. Directed by Chris Marker, Pierre Lhomme. Marker had recently made essay films about contemporary Israel and Cuba—films with a decidedly revolutionary bent—when in the spring of 1962 he decided, for the first time, to take the pulse of his own country. With the French-Algerian War coming to a bitter and brutal end, Marker joined now-legendary cameraman Pierre Lhomme in conducting hours of interviews on the streets of Paris. The result is a fascinating political and social document, a snapshot of French citizens reflecting on the meaning of happiness, whether personal or collective, even as they confess anxiety about the future of their families and their nation. Restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC, this original French release version features voiceover narration by Yves Montand, through which Marker offers his own wry and poignant commentary—as he does with some cleverly revealing interpolations of image and sound—and music by Michel Legrand. Courtesy Sofracima. In French; English subtitles. 163 min.
Friday, November 13, 2009, 5:00 p.m., Theater 1, T1
Saturday, November 14, 2009, 1:30 p.m., Theater 1, T1

1928. France. Directed by Marcel L'Herbier. The glorious new restoration of L’Argent confirms Marcel L’Herbier as one of the most radically avant-garde and influential commercial filmmakers of the silent era. An epically expensive and dazzlingly staged Franco-German coproduction, L’Argent transposes Emile Zola’s 1891 novel about capitalist greed and its catastrophic, all-too-familiar consequences from the French Second Empire to the decadent glitter of Art Deco Paris. Aristide Saccard (Piere Alcover), a business tycoon, schemes to inflate the stock value of his company, Bank Universal, by duping aviator Jacques Hamelin (Henry Victor) into participating in a publicity stunt involving a transatlantic quest for oil; also drawn into the wanton proceedings are Hamelin’s naively complicit wife (Marie Glory) and Saccard’s cunning former mistress (Brigitte Helm, of Metropolis fame). In the estimation of cinema historian Noël Burch, L’Herbier’s use of vast architectural spaces to dwarf his characters, his exhilarating camera movements, and his claustrophobically tight, low-angle shots “[anticipate] by twenty years Orson Welles's and Michelangelo Antonioni's film styles at their most sophisticated." Restored by the Archives françaises du film du CNC. Silent, with French and English intertitles. 165 min.
Saturday, November 14, 2009, 7:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2 (Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin)
Sunday, November 15, 2009, 1:30 p.m., Theater 2, T2 (Piano accompaniment by Donald Sosin)

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