Author: Paulina Reizi

A Season of Classic Films: Seven Slovenian Shorts

In collaboration with the Slovenian Film Centre and the Slovenian Film Archives, the Slovenian Cinematheque presents seven digitally restored remarkable Slovenian short films in a world premiere, in the context of A Season of Classic Films. This rare overview of Slovene filmmakers will premiere on Tuesday 22 June in a special free-admission event at the Silvan Furlan Hall of the Slovenian Cinematheque in Ljubljana. Between 23 and 27 June, the films will be free-to-view online with English subtitles. An introduction by Igor Prassel, Head of programme department at the Slovenian Cinematheque, will provide the context to the films and details about their restoration.

Watch Seven Slovenian Shorts (23 – 27 June)

The Slovenian programme highlights important filmmakers from the history of national cinema (1946-1984) and, in particular, their explosive creativity within film expression, which without exception integrates formal and narrative experiments. The historical overview starts with France Štiglic’s Mladina gradi (Youth Builds, 1946), an internationally acclaimed documentary on the building of socialism after liberation and then continues with Bizoviške perice (Laundresses from Bizovik, 1959), a film reportage on countryside laundresses by Jože Bevc, followed by Barva spomina (The Colour of Memory, 1967), a portrayal of painter Jože Spacal and his art directed by Jože Babič and Giorgio Šestan, Gratinirani možgani Pupilije Ferkeverk (Fried Brain of Pupilija Ferkeverk, 1970), an exquisite experimental short calling for freedom of expression by the renowned DOP and film director Karpo Godina, Slavica exception (Slavica Exceptional, 1971), a documentary portrait of a professional striper by Mako Sajko, Cukrarna (1972), Jože Pogačnik’s homage to an old building and its inhabitants with a glorious past and a tragic present, and finally, Zvonko Čoh’s Poljubi mehka me radirka (Kiss Me Gentle Rubber, 1984), a milestone in Slovenian artistic animated film.

The seven short films have been digitised by the post-production company Iridium Film and digitally restored under the guidance and supervision of an expert group led by the Slovenian Cinematheque.

The special free screening and the film restorations are made possible thanks to A Season of Classic Films, an initiative of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the financial support of the EU Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Twenty-two film institutions from all over Europe, including the Slovenian Cinematheque, are taking part this year in A Season of Classic Films. The initiative offers free access to restored European films, connecting the public with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage.

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A Season of Classic Films: One Song a Day Takes Mischief Away (1970)

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of one of the most popular musical comedies in Croatia, the Croatian state archive – Croatian cinematheque will release the newly-digitised film One Song a Day Takes Mischief Away / Tko pjeva zlo ne misli and it will be free-to-view online between 18 and 25 June.

Watch Tko pjeva zlo ne misli (18-25 June)

Tko pjeva zlo ne misli is a musical comedy set in 1930s Zagreb. The film presents in a seemingly vaudeville plot the life of the Šafranek family in Zagreb in 1935. The father of the family, Franjo, drinks spritzers, while Ana, the mother, is confined in the kitchen where she fantasises about the men in the novels she reads. Ana’s sister often comes uninvited mainly just to have a free lunch. Mr. Fulir, a playboy, starts courting Ana, eventually leading to a big scandal. In this routine and complicated world of adults, their son Perica satisfies his child curiosity in observing the elders and writing about everything they do and say in his diary. The film is strongly placed in this specific ambient and time, but it presents universal themes of romance and seduction, dreams, hopes and delusions in their collision with reality.

The special screening is made possible thanks to A Season of Classic Films, an initiative of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the financial support of the EU Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Twenty-two film institutions from all over Europe, including Hrvatski državni arhiv – Hrvatska kinoteka / Croatian state archive – Croatian cinematheque, are taking part this year in A Season of Classic Films. The initiative offers free access to restored European films, connecting the public with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage.

Tko pjeva zlo ne misli (One Song a Day Takes Mischief Away) | Yugoslavia, 1970, 93′

Director: Krešo Golik. Producer: Croatia film. Cast: Relja Bašić, Mia Oremović, Mirjana Bohanec, Franjo Majetić, Tomislav Žganec, Vida Jerman. Scriptwriter: Krešo Golik (based on a novel by Vjekoslav Majer) / Director of photography: Ivica Rajković / music composer: Živan Cvitković / editing: Katja Majer / scenography: Željko Senečić / costumes: Ljubica Wagner. Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 93’, colour, sound, Croatian. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: New digitisation of a photochemically restored 35mm film copy. DCP, 93’, colour, sound Croatian. No subtitles (dialogue-lists available). Copyrights: Croatia film (until the end of 2020); authors rights.

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A Season of Classic Films: Summer Daydream – A Selection of Vintage Bulgarian Short Films

The Bulgarian National Film Archive (BNFA) joins the second edition of A Season of Classic Films with a compilation of early Bulgarian films, entitled “Summer Daydream: A Selection of Vintage Bulgarian Short Films”. BNFA offers four archival treasures (1926-1940) which present life in Bulgaria during the interwar period with a pinch of humour. The programme will be screened on Thursday 17 June at 19:00 EEST (Sofia time) / 18:00 (Paris time) at the film archive’s Odeon movie theatre and the event will be simultaneously streamed via BNFA’s YouTube channel, with an introduction by film expert Rosen Spasov. The live musical accompaniment will be provided by violinist Boyana Zhelyazkova and pianist Yasen Obretenov. After the live stream event, the programme will remain available until the end of June.

Watch Summer Daydream: A Selection of Vintage Bulgarian Short Films

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A Season of Classic Films: Two new restorations from the Cinematheque of North Macedonia

Both digitally restored, Mirno Leto (A Quiet Summer, 1961) and Frosina (1952) will premiere on 11 and 16 June, respectively, at 20:00 as part of A Season of Classic Films. The films will be presented in special open-air screening events in Skopje and via live stream and they will remain free-to-view online for five days via the Cinematheque’s website.

Watch Mirno Leto (11-15 June) and Frosina (16-20 June)

Мирно лето [Mirno Leto] (A Quiet Summer) | Yugoslavia, 1961, 99′

Director: Dimitrie Osmanli (Димитрие Османли). Producer: Vardar Film – Skopje. Cast: Slobodan Perovic, Ljupka Dzundeva, Darko Dameski, Ilija Milchin, Petre Prlichko, Meri Boshkova, Ilija Dzuvalekovski, Stojka Cekova. DoP: Ljube Petkovski / Scriptwriter: Frida Filipovic / Music composer: Dragutin Savin. Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 99’, B&W, widescreen, sound, Macedonian. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: New restoration. DCP, 99’, B&W, sound, Macedonian. Available subtitles: English. Copyright: Vardar Film – Skopje, Kinoteka na Republika Severna Makedonija.

The film tells the story of Mira and Zare, a young couple yearning for their summer peaceful vacation by the lake. They will get a chance to escape from it all when Zare, who is an anthropologist, is put in charge of the renovation of an old house by the Ohrid lake. The house is set to become part of the local ethnographic museum and he will spend the summer to develop the interior and the collections, while Mira hopes to paint and relax. The long-awaited retreat for the couple turns into a revolving door of uninvited relatives and friends who they thought they left behind in the city.

This is the premiere of a new 2K restoration to celebrate the film’s 60th anniversary, one of the most beloved films in the country as it is regarded as the first comedy produced in the Macedonian language. Upon its release in 1961, the film was a great success with more than 25.000 people watching the entertainment sensation in the two cinemas where the screenings were available.

The only surviving black and white internegative acetate print of Mirno Leto, preserved by the Cinematheque of North Macedonia, has been digitally restored. There are no complete original negative prints and only positive copies survive from past cinema distribution that are in a really bad condition and not adequate for screenings. The internegatives were scanned in 2K and processed by Click Film lab in Zagreb, Croatia. The sound was also digitally restored and a new 2K master was completed from which a DCP and other digital versions for access and archiving purposes are now available.

The premiere of the new restoration on 11 June will be introduced by Atanas Chuposki, Senior Filmologist at Kinoteka as well as a mini concert.

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A Season of Classic Films: Celebrating the cinemas reopening in Belgium

After more than seven months of closure, cinemas in Belgium are finally reopening on Wednesday 9 June. On the occasion, the Royal Belgian Film Archive, CINEMATEK, will release the new restoration of the classic Belgian magic realism film De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen (The man who had his hair cut short, André Delvaux, 1965) in a world premiere during two free special screenings in its renovated cinema.

André Delvaux’s debut film is a timeless exploration of universal feelings, such as love, desire and death. The leading character Govert Miereveld is infatuated with his pupil Fran. This results in him plunging into a downwards spiral of mental desperation. The screenplay is an adaptation of the novel by renowned Flemish author Johan Daisne. The international cast and crew include the actress Beata Tyszkiewicz, cameraman Ghislain Cloquet, sound engineer Antoine Bonfanti and Suzanne Baron as editor, who had worked before on several Nouvelle Vague films in France.

This is a new digital restoration in 2K from the original negative material preserved and restored by CINEMATEK. The restoration and free screenings are made possible thanks to A Season of Classic Films, an initiative of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the financial support of the EU Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Twenty-two film institutions from all over Europe, including CINEMATEK, are taking part this year in A Season of Classic Films. The initiative offers free access to restored European films, connecting the public with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage. 

Following the free world premiere at CINEMATEK, the film will be screened in Belgium and abroad, including during the Il Cinema Ritrovato 2021 festival in Bologna.

De man die zijn haar kort liet knippen (The man who had his hair cut short) | Belgium, 1965, 95′

Director: André Delvaux. Producer: Paul Louyet (Ministerie van Nationale Opvoeding en Cultuur) & Jos Op De Beeck (BRT) / now called VRT – Flemish public television. Cast: Senne Rouffaer (Govert Miereveld), Beata Tyszkiewicz (Fran), Hector Camerlynck (prof. Mato), Hilde Uitterlinden (Beps), Annemarie Van Dijk (Corra), Hilda Van Roose (Miss Freken), François Beukelaers (patient), Arlette Emmery (student), Paul S’Jongers, Luc Philips, François Bernard, Vic Moeremans, Maurits Goossens, Dora Van der Groen (voice of Fran), Yvonne Lex (vocal voice of Fran). Screenplay: Anna De Pagter & André Delvaux, based on the novel by Johan Daisne / Asst. Dir.: François Beukelaers & Pierre Grunstein / Dialogues: André Delvaux & Johan Daisne / Music: Frédéric Devreese / Cinematography: Ghislain Cloquet / Sound: Antoine Bonfanti / Editing: Suzanne Baron / Producer: Denise Delvaux / Art design (decors): Jean-Claude Maes. Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 95’, sound, B&W, sound, Dutch. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: New restoration from the original negatives preserved by Cinémathèque royale de Belgique / Koninklijk Belgisch Filmarchief. DCP 2K, 95’, sound, B&W, sound, Dutch. Subtitles available: English, French. Copyright: Catherine Delvaux – Nouvelle Imagerie – catdx@lanim.eu.

CINEMATEK, 9 June 2021, 19:00 and 21:30. * New restoration world premiere*.  Book your free ticket here!

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A Season of Classic Films: Maria do Mar (1930)

Cinemateca Portuguesa joins A Season of Classic Films with the premiere of the new digital restoration of Maria do Mar (Leitão de Barros, 1930), the masterpiece of Portuguese silent cinema, on Saturday 12 June at 20:00 WEST, in the centennial venue Teatro São Luiz (Lisbon) and accompanied by Bernardo Sassetti’s musical score, commissioned by Cinemateca and performed live by Orquestra Sinfonietta de Lisboa. There will also be an online screening on 23 June. 

Watch Maria do Mar (on 23 June)

Maria do Mar is a local synthesis of the European film avant-gardes of the 1920s, combining the boldest formal composition and montage, with an inquiring ethnographic look at the fishing community of Nazaré (now world-famous after its inclusion in the big-wave surfing circuit). Its balanced mix of modernity and tradition, as well as its deliberate conflation of the documentary and the fiction modes of representation, make it a founding moment in the history of Portuguese cinema, and a landmark of the European film heritage. 

The new digital restoration of Maria do Mar presents the version restored by Cinemateca Portuguesa in 2000. The new digital copy comes from the 4K digitisation of the film’s original camera negative. The image’s digital restoration and colour correction were made by Cineric Portugal.  

Bernardo Sassetti’s musical score was originally commissioned by Cinemateca in 1999. It was orchestrated by Vasco Pearce de Azevedo, Bernardo Sassetti, and Luís Tinoco, and recorded in 2010 by Bernardo Sassetti (piano), Filipa Pais (vocals), and the Orquestra Sinfonietta de Lisboa (conducted by Maestro Vasco Pearce de Azevedo), with José Pedro Gil, Vasco Pearce de Azevedo, and Bernardo Sassetti as the recording producers. The score is now part of the new digital copy of Maria do Mar and will be performed live in Teatro São Luiz on Saturday 12 June. 

A Season of Classic Films is a series of free screenings across Europe. The initiative is coordinated by the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) and is supported by the European Commission’s Creative Europe MEDIA programme. The films are presented by 22 members of ACE with the aim to increase visibility to the richness of their collections and raise awareness of film preservation and culture, especially among young adults. 

Maria do Mar | Portugal, 1930, 105′

Director: Leitão de Barros. Producer: Sociedade Universal de Superfilmes (SUS). Cast: Rosa Maria (Maria do Mar), Oliveira Martins (Manuel), Adelina Abranches (aunt Aurélia), Alves da Cunha (Falacha), Perpétua dos Santos (Falacha’s wife), Horta e Costa («Peru»), António Duarte («Lacraio»), Maria Leo (Maria’s friend), Mário Duarte (doctor), Celestino Pedroso (Colonel), Rafael Alves (officer), Galiana Murraças and Bernardina (women). Direction, script, editing: Leitão de Barros / Sequence: António Lopes Ribeiro / Photography: Manuel Luís Vieira, António Salazar Dinis / Intertitles: Norberto Lopes / Lightning: José Correia / Set photo: Ferreira da Cunha. Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 105’, B&W, silent, Portuguese intertitles. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: New digital restoration in 4K with newly-recorded music of the original music composition. DCP after digital restoration, 105’, B&W, with recorded original musical score, Portuguese intertitles. Available subtitles: English/French. Copyright: Leitão de Barros’ heirs (film work), Bernardo Sassetti’s heirs (music score of the restored version of the film).

Local screening: Teatro São Luiz, 12 June 2021, 20:00 (WEST) 

Online screeningwww.cinemateca.pt, 23 June 2021. Available with English and French subtitles. 

 

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A Season of Classic Films: Fight for the Matterhorn (1928)


On the occasion of a newly arranged music recording, the DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum will screen the film Der Kampf ums Matterhorn (Fight for the Matterhorn, DE 1928, D: Nunzio Malasomma/Mario Bonnard), digitised by the DFF in 2016, on Friday 28 May, at 7 p.m. on its YouTube channel.

Watch Der Kampf ums Matterhorn

The special screening is made possible thanks to A Season of Classic Films, an initiative of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the financial support of the EU Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Twenty-two film institutions from all over Europe, including DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum, are taking part this year in A Season of Classic Films. The initiative offers free access to restored European films, connecting the public with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage.

In this year’s edition, the DFF dares to bridge the gap between silent film and electronic music: together with Leopold Hurt, the Teichmann brothers depart here from the familiar paths of classical silent film music. The experience of historical works could thus be opened up in a new way for a curious audience interested in music. Their improvisation based on musical motifs by Peter Kiesewetter and Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger was rearranged especially for the current livestream.

The recording of the live stream will be available on the DFF YouTube channel for one week after its premiere.

Based on the historic first ascent in 1865, FIGHT FOR THE MATTERHORN focuses on a male relationship and a borderline experience: The obsession to conquer the Matterhorn unites the British sportsman Edward Whymper and his Italian counterpart, the local mountain guide Anton Carrel, played by Luis Trenker. Instead of conquering the climb as a team, however, a tough race ensues. With Luis Trenker and Arnold Fanck, two of the most important pioneers and masters of mountain films were involved in the production. The leading actor Trenker was also the production manager. He also took charge of the exterior shots on the Matterhorn, and his cameraman was Sepp Allgeier, already known in 1928 for his magnificent shots at frosty heights.

About the Film Restoration

The DFF’s elaborate reconstruction of the original German premiere version, directed by Anke Mebold, was accomplished in 2016 in collaboration with HTW Berlin. The work on the restoration turned out to be extremely difficult: Neither the original negative of the film nor the theatrical prints or the censorship card of the German premiere version have been preserved. The most important sources for the digital reconstruction were film prints of the French and Czech export versions as well as fragments of a 16mm positive from the 1930s. The missing intertitles in German could be added on the basis of the censorship card of this 16-mm reissue version.

About the Musicians Teichmann / Hurt

The cooperation between Berlin-based producers and DJs, Andi and Hannes Teichmann (live electronics), and composer and zither player Leopold Hurt goes back to a joint performance at the Munich Zither Festival in 2001. What was then a spontaneous project developed into a long-lasting collaboration as a live-electronic chamber music formation.

The trio’s music is characterised by its stylistically unconstrained approach: an uninhibited, always surprising work with sounds that never try to disguise their different origins – from new music to authentic folk music, from pop-derived harmonies to experimental electronics.

In many cases, the sounds of the (electric) zither played live form the starting point for concentrated further processing. The deliberately analogue setup of Andi and Hannes Teichmann gives the music an additional, very personal colouration.

Der Kampf ums Matterhorn  (Fight for the Matterhorn) | DE 1928, 117′

Director: Mario Bonnard/Nunzio Malasomma/Luis Trenker (uncredited). Producer: Hom-Film GmbH, Berlin; Arthur Hohenberg/Moisy Markus/Stéfan Markus. Cast: Luis Trenker, Marcella Albani, Peter Voss, Clifford McLaglen, Alexandra Schmitt, Hannes Schneider, Paul Graetz, Johanna Ewald, Ernst Petersen, Hugo Lehner. Director of photography: Sepp Allgeier / Willy Winterstein, Screenplay: Arnold Fanck / Nunzio Malasomma, Camera: Sepp Allgeier (location shooting); Willy Winterstein (studio & location shoots). Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 2692 meters, B&W, silent, German intertitles. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: Restored German first-run version. New recorded electronic music score by the Gebrüder Teichmann. 117’, German intertitles. Subtitles available: English. Copyright: DFF (Autonome Provinz Südtirol/Arnold Fanck/Claudio Malasomma).

Credits Music

Music: Andi and Hannes Teichmann, Leopold Hurt. Using musical motifs by Peter Kiesewetter and Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger.

Re-arranged and recorded by Leopold Hurt – electric zither, effects and the Teichmann Brothers – Live Electronics & Processing

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Filmoteca de Catalunya Takes Part in the 2nd Edition of A Season of Classic Films with La piel quemada

Restored by Filmoteca de Catalunya in 4K, the film La piel quemada (Burnt Skin) will be free-to-view worldwide between 28 May and 3 June as part of A Season of Classic Films. A special free screening event will also take place at the Filmoteca on 27 May at 19:30.

Film Trailer

Watch La piel quemada (EN + FR subtitles)

La piel quemada portrays the relationship between workers and tourists in Spain in the 1960s. While working-class people form Andalusia are forced to travel to Catalonia to find a job, there are tourists from Europe that travel to that same place looking for sunny weather to spend their holidays. There is an obvious contrast. At the same time, the film hints at differences between Spanish and Catalan people: culture, language, traditions.

50 years later the socioeconomic and cultural issues presented in the film remain relevant: sexism; immigration and tourism and in what way they have changed; the past and the current “Catalan-Spanish” social conflict…

The film will be presented in collaboration with a group of young students from Barcelona who interviewed the 93-year-old filmmaker Josep Maria Forn. A recorded interview video in Catalan will be available online as well.

The original image and sound negatives of the film were deposited at the Filmoteca de Catalunya by the filmmaker in 2001. An inspection revealed continuity issues in the image, while the sound was poorly preserved resulting in a severe deterioration stage of the so-called vinegar syndrome due to its characteristic smell. The film preservationists and restorers at the Filmoteca traced the missing image sequence and transferred the sound on a new negative. The complete 35mm image and sound negatives were scanned, treated and encoded and digital broadcast files in 4K are now available.

The special screening of the recently restored movie is made possible thanks to A Season of Classic Films, an initiative of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the financial support of the EU Creative Europe MEDIA programme. Twenty-two film institutions from all over Europe, including Filmoteca de Catalunya, are taking part this year in A Season of Classic Films. The initiative offers free access to restored European films, connecting the public with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage.

La piel quemada | Burnt Skin (Spain, 1966, 110’, with EN and FR subtitles)


Director: Josep Maria Forn. Producer: Josep Maria Forn, Teide P.C. Cast: Antonio Iranzo, Marta May, Silvia Solar, Ángel Lombarte, Luis Valero, Carlos Otero. DoP: Ricardo Albiñana, Scriptwriter: Josep Maria Forn, Music composer: Federico Martínez Tudó. Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 110’, B&W, sound, Spanish. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: DCP 4K, 110’, Spanish. Subtitles available: English, French. Copyright: Produccions Films de l’Orient.

  • Local screening: Sala Chomón, Filmoteca de Calatalunya. (max. number of participants to ensure health safety regulations: 180. The audience can pick up their free tickets at the box office upon arrival).

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A Season of Classic Films: Albanian Film ‘The Death of a Horse’

The Albanian National Film Archive offers free online access to the drama The Death of a Horse (Vdekja e Kalit) on its YouTube channel between 19 and 26 May.

Film Trailer

Watch The Death of a Horse

Based on a true story, The Death of a Horse (Vdekja e Kalit) carries the distinction of being Albania’s first dramatic fiction film made after the end of its communist era.

Thirty years later, very little is still known about Albanian cinema. During the country’s communist period (1946-1991), movie makers in the Soviet-built Kinostudio complex produced 232 fiction features, thousands of documentaries, newsreels and hundreds of animated films.

In 1991, many Albanian filmmakers confronted the legacy of Enver Hoxha’s dictatorship. One of the most prolific of the former Kinostudio directors, Saimir Kumbaro (b. 1945) and screenwriter Nexhati Tafa (b. 1952), along with some of Albania’s most iconic acting talents, crafted The Death of a Horse, a feature film that would have been unthinkable a year earlier.

Speaking about the film, Iris Elezi, Director of the Albanian National Film Archive said, “The low-budget conditions during the making of The Death of a Horse reflected many of the tremendous social and economic challenges Albania faced in the 1990s. But since the Balkan nation had only just emerged from the traumatic Hoxha era, The Death of a Horse has a fierce vitality, its story literally torn from the pages of its recent history”.

The drama takes place in 1974, a year in which the Albanian regime accused the military of treason. The Defence Minister was executed along with a high-ranking General, Petrit Dume.

The main character in The Death of a Horse, the horse trainer Agron, parallels the story of Petrit Dume. However, the fictional Agron is not a General but a military horse trainer who does all he can to save his beloved racehorse. But as he tries to rescue the white horse, Agron and his family get caught up in a series of tragic events.

In the context of preserving Albania’s endangered cinema heritage, the Albanian National Film Archive’s has acquired the 35mm original film elements, which showed signs of material decay. The film has been scanned under the supervision of restoration expert Shai Drori and the digital restoration has been completed by filmmaker Steven Kastrissios.

The restoration and free online release of The Death of a Horse are made possible thanks to A Season of Classic Films, an initiative of the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the financial support of the EU Creative Europe programme. The goal of A Season of Classic Films is to encourage the restoration of European film art and, through free-admission screening events online and in cinemas when possible, to draw attention to the work of European film archives. Twenty-two institutions from all over Europe, including the Albanian National Film Archive, are taking part this year in the initiative, connecting the public with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage.

Vdekja e Kalit / The Death of a Horse | Albania, 1992, 81′

Director: Saimir Kumbaro. Producer: Albafilm Studio. Cast: Timo Flloko (Agroni), Rajmonda Bulku (wife), Niko Kanxheri (Estrefi), Fitim Makashi (Vangjeli), Luan Qerimi (father), Tinka Kurti (mother), Bedri Ashari, Agron Mema, Ferdinand Radi, Darling Capeli, Harilla Vjero (investigator), Milto Mina, Lutfi Zyko, Luljeta Sallaku (sister). Director of photography: Bardhyl Martiniani / Scriptwriter: Nexhati Tafa / Music composer: Rene Aubry / Editing: Nerman Furxhi / Sound designer: Ilir Gjata / Set design: Arben Basha. Physical characteristics of first release: 35mm, 81’, sound, colour, Albanian. Film copy screened during A Season of Classic Films: New restoration – world premiere. DCP, 81’, sound, colour, Albanian. Available subtitles: English. Copyright: AQSHF.

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A Season of Classic Films: Bubble Bath (Habfürdő) – online debut of the musical animation to the rhythm of a heartbeat

The National Film Institute Hungary – Film Archive (NFI – Film Archive) is presenting the recently restored animation cult film Bubble Bath (Habfürdő) online. The film will be free-to-view worldwide with English and French subtitles on two occasions on the NFI – Film Archive’s YouTube channel: the first screening starts at 7 pm on 15 May, birthday of the director György Kovásznai, and there is a repeat screening the next day, also at 7 pm.  

The new restoration in 4K and online release of Bubble Bath (Habfürdő) is made possible thanks to A Season of Classic Films, an initiative of ACE (Association des Cinémathèques Européennes) with the financial support of Creative Europe. The goal of A Season of Classic Films is to encourage the restoration of European film art and, through free-admission screening events online and in cinemas when possible, to draw attention to the work of European film archives. Twenty-two institutions from all over Europe, including the NFI- Film Archive, are taking part in the initiative, connecting the public with cinema history and the preservation of film heritage.

György Kovásznai (1934–1983) is a pioneer of Hungarian animation. His animated short films working with boldly expressive graphics and experimental soundscapes carved a niche in the genre traditions in Hungary. His first and only feature film, Bubble Bath debuting in 1980, is one of the most remarkable highpoints on the domestic and international animation palette, which now has a serious fan base.

Bubble Bath went radically against the cartoons of the day made for children and based on classical literary foundations, which was launched in Hungary with János vitéz (Johnny Corncob, 1973) and Lúdas Matyi (Mattie the Goose-Boy, 1976). It is not surprising, therefore, that Kovásznai’s film, with a contemporary setting and designed specifically for an adult audience, was received with incomprehension by contemporary viewers, it divided opinion among film professionals and was taken off cinema programmes after just a few weeks. At the same time, the ground-breaking style of Bubble Bath still influences younger generations of animation directors to this day.

In an approach ahead of its time, numerous film forms (musical, romantic comedy and sociological documentary) are mixed up in the hybrid-genre experimental film, the subtitle of which is ‘musical animation to the rhythm of a heartbeat’. The action takes place in Budapest’s downtown and it reveals the story of a love triangle: Zsolt, the middle-aged window shop decorator, runs away on his wedding day, fleeing to Anni, colleague of his attractive, worldly bride-to-be Klári, who works as a nurse and is preparing for her new role as housewife. At the moment Zsolt bursts in, Anni is studying for her fifth medical entrance exam in her rented room. Zsolt persuades Anni to call his fiancée and tell her he has changed his mind, he won’t be marrying her after all. Through the characters’ dissatisfaction with their own social situations, the film portrayed the disillusionment of the young generation of the 1970s in an extremely entertaining and yet grotesque way with a sociographical element. The characters were shaped on the basis of real models (the three main figures were drawn on the basis of fashion model Géza Girardi and actresses Kati Dobos and Irén Bordán), but in their movements an eclectic way of representation ranging from realism to complete abstraction prevails.

Bubble Bath achieved its documentary effect using the unusual solution of applying animated socio-reports based on genuine interview footage into the film’s fictional fabric. These reports were made in the waiting room of an actual mother and infant clinic. Kovásznai himself wrote the lyrics to jazz songs performed in the music segments, which were set to music by János Másik Jnr., who made his debut here as a film composer. The principal dubbing and vocals parts were made by opera singer Albert Antalffy, jazz singer Kati Bontovics, and actresses Kati Dobos and Anikó Papp.

Restoration of Bubble Bath, which is the third Hungarian full-length animation, was carried out within the film restoration and digitization programme of the National Film Institute in 2021, with the support of ACE and Creative Europe. Around 30 staff members of the Film Archive and Filmlabor functioning as directorates of the National Film Institute took four months to complete the full, 4K restoration of the film. Ethical issues of restoration were even more evident in the case of such a special film as Bubble Bath. The prolific visual elements, the figures created from rippling lines, the pop-art lights and colours pulsating to the rhythm of the music posed the restorers with a challenge even greater than in other films: how far could they intervene in the image without violating the original concept; flicker-free technology should not eliminate the original flicker, software should leave untouched all the original, constantly evolving mass of lines. Luckily, the film’s cinematographer Árpád Lossonczy and its composer, the outstanding figure of Hungarian alternative music János Másik, were available to restore the tonal palette and optimal audio of the film according to the original, assisting the work of the colourist and audio restorer.

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