Though the past couple of years have seen Martin Scorsese become something of a lightning rod for controversy due to his polarizing beliefs that some movies should not be produced by Disney, those familiar with his life and works know him better as an elder statesman of the cinema, dedicated to protecting the art form to which he’s dedicated his life. As a founder of the Film Foundation non-profit, he’s supported preservation and exhibition of less-seen classics, and now he’s bringing that activist spirit online.
Deadline made the dreams of repertory nerds — known as ‘rep rats’ in the States, ‘bagmen’ in the UK — come true with the announcement of a virtual screening room run by the Film Foundation, through which a selection of their restoration projects will be made available to screen, free of charge. The service will launch on 9 May, and regularly cycle different films in and out on the second Monday of each month as more of a virtual event system than a growing streaming library.
The flagship title will be Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger‘s 1945 film I Know Where I’m Going!, their timeless romance set on the wind-swept Isle of Mull with Wendy Hiller and Roger Livesey. Presented in collaboration with the BFI National Archive who oversaw the restoration, the screening will include an introduction from Scorsese himself, and be followed by interviews with master editor and Michael’s widow Thelma Schoonmaker Powell, as well as superfans Joanna Hogg, Tilda Swinton, and Kevin Macdonald.
And that’s just the beginning — the Deadline item teases a robust slate to come, including Federico Fellini‘s seminal La Strada, G. Aravindan’s Malayalam-language film Kummatty, a film noir double feature of Edgar G. Ulmer’s Detour and Arthur D. Ripley’s The Chase, Sarah Maldoror’s Angolan liberation film Sambizanga, Marlon Brando’s oft-homaged One-Eyed Jacks, John Huston‘s francophile extravaganza Moulin Rouge, and the New York legend Jonas Mekas‘ autobiographical documentary Lost Lost Lost. Scorsese co-curated these picks with longtime friend and former New York Film Festival head Kent Jones.
While this magnanimous gesture of goodwill is sure to trigger another round of elitism accusations for the saintly Scorsese, it’s far less unpleasant to speculate about what other surprises might be up his sleeve. The Film Foundation has a deep catalogue of restored gems to choose from — showing the general public Robert Downey Sr.‘s ultra-low-budget debut Babo 73 for free would be an absolute good, and that’s just one example.
I Know Where I’m Going! was restored by The Film Foundation and BFI National Archive, in association with ITV and Park Circus. The 9 May screening is co-presented by the BFI National Archive, Janus Films, ITV and Park Circus.
Published 22 Apr 2022
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