A SEASON OF CLASSIC FILMS: PREMIERE OF ‘A halál után’ in the Festival de la Cinémathèque

The film A halál után (After Death, 1920, Hungary, dir. Alfréd Deésy) that was awarded the joint film restoration grant in 2023 in the framework of the programme ‘A Season of Classic Films’, has been selected to premiere in the Festival de la Cinémathèque. The international restoration premiere will take place on Sunday 17 March at 14:00 at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé.

About the film and the restoration

After Death was adapted from the novel L’Homme qui revient de loin by the renowned French author Gaston Leroux, whose detective and fantasy fiction works have been the subject of tens of film adaptations from the 1910s to nowadays, the best known of all being The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantôme de l’Opéra). L’Homme qui revient de loin was first adapted for the big screen by Gaston Ravel in 1917 immediately after its publication. In 1950, a remake was directed by Jean Castanier featuring Maria Casarès, and it even became a successful French TV series in 1972. Leroux’s works were very popular in Hungary and the novel L’Homme qui revient de loin was translated in Hungarian and published in 1920, prompting an immediate adaptation to film by Alfréd Deésy in the same year. Alfréd Deésy was one of the most prolific Hungarian filmmakers of the era, and the heroine, Kamilla Hollay, was a well-known star in Europe.

The only surviving copy, which features richly tinted images, has been carefully restored in 4K thanks to a collaboration by the National Film Institute Hungary – Film Archive, the Royal Belgian Film Archive and la Cinémathèque française.

The sole remaining nitrate print of this film has been preserved by the Cinémathèque royale de Belgique – CINEMATEK. In 2023, the National Film Institute Hungary – Film Archive undertook a digital restoration of this nearly intact 1613-metres-long tinted and toned nitrate print. This restoration effort was executed in collaboration with CINEMATEK and la Cinémathèque française. Throughout the restoration process, a deliberate choice was made to retain the original bilingual distributor titles within the film. Unfortunately, the opening credits did not survive, requiring a reconstruction based on available historical sources.

Digital copies of the restored film are shared among the partner archives to enable better accessibility and preservation.

JOINT RESTORATION GRANT

In 2022, ACE launched the Joint Restoration Grant within its A Season of Classic Films programme, thanks to the additional funding of the European Commission aimed at supporting transnational collaboration of film institutions in the field of film preservation. In 2023, the jury, comprised of filmmakers Radu Jude and Saodat Ismailova, ARTE France general director Olivier Père and film programmer at Lincoln Center and head of international relations at ECAM Industria Cecilia Barrionuevo, selected the film A halál után from an array of proposals submitted by European film heritage institutions.

A Season of Classic Films features free screenings of newly restored films alongside parallel activities across Europe with the aim of developing new audiences for film heritage. Through a series of live and online events, the programme raises awareness of the work of European film archives, advocating the significance of film preservation and cinema culture, especially to younger generations. In addition to reaching new audiences, the programme is also an expression of connection and solidarity between the European film archives, something which is key to the preservation of our common film heritage.

A Season of Classic Films is an initiative of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the support of the MEDIA strand of the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

PREMIERE RESTORATION SCREENING

Chaired by Costa Gavras, the 11th edition of the Cinémathèque française archive film festival features newly restored films from all over the world. This very special premiere restoration screening of A halál után (After Death) will be held at 14:00 on Sunday 17 March at the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé with live piano accompaniment from Matthieu Lecoq and will be introduced by NFI’s director György Ráduly and representatives of the partner archives.

For the previous joint restoration grant: please read more about Slike iz života udarnika (Life of a Shock Force Worker, 1972, Yugoslavia, Bahrudin ‘Bato’ Čengić) that premiered in Venice and received an ICOM award for international cooperation.

For film loans: To programme the films presented in the Season of Classic Films programme, please find the contact information and detailed filmographic details in our catalogues from 2021, 2022 and 2023.

For dates and access links of the upcoming free screenings of A Season of Classic Films in cinemas across Europe and online, please follow ACE’s website and social media pages on Instagram | Facebook | X-Twitter.

 

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