Category: Preservation

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)

Watch 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.

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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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23rd NITRATE FILM FESTIVAL

Dear film lovers,

Although COVID-19 pandemic, a terrible disease that took lives of our family members, cousins and friends, as well as numerous significant persons from film industry, is slowly subsiding, culture cannot stand still. Thus we have decided to organize the 23rd Nitrate Film Festival in Jugoslovenska kinoteka in its old, established term for decades (6–15 June), with a simple slogan – Nitrate 23.

Ernst Lubitsch, Mikhail Romm, Leitão de Barros, Julien Duvivier, István Gaál, Allan Dwan, Vittorio Cottafavi, Wilhelm Dieterle, Jean Epstein, Otakar Vávra, Raymond Bernard, Dziga Vertov, Youssef Chahine, Jacob and Luise Fleck are the names of distinguished film authors whose films will contribute to the importance of this year’s Festival. In versatile and divers program with an abundance of various genres and films, of which many will have their Serbian premiere, we shall present thirty-six films from twenty-six film archives from Europe, Japan, Egypt and United States of America. It is our greatest pleasure to be able to organize screening of eight films discovered in recent years in the Yugoslav Film Archive Nitrate Fund, among which the most significant one is the film The First Vuk’s Convocation in Trsic 1933. Unlike last year, we have finally had an opportunity to invite over twenty guests from the neighbouring countries and beyond, with whom we shall exchange impressions and views on future of film archives in light of all that have happened to us in the last fifteen months, along with watching masterpieces of world cinematography.

That is why we are honoured and pleased to invite you, for the twenty third time, to Jugoslovenska kinoteka cinema theatres (this time to the cinema theatre in Uzun Mirkova no. 1), where together we shall enjoy the beloved world of motion pictures through the film time machine.

Aleksandar Saša Erdeljanović
Director and Festival selector

Nitrate 23 Programme

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 framework for digital preservation of cinematographic works – comments requested – last days!

Invitation to comment on the draft document

A framework for digital preservation of cinematographic works

Dear colleagues,

Technical Committee CEN/TC 457 (Digital Preservation of Cinematographic Works) of the European Committee for Standardisation (CEN) has been working for some time now on a project to define and standardise a long-term archive format for cinematographic works. The standard will apply to both digitised analogue films and born-digital content. Reference software for guaranteeing interoperability among vendors and heritage institutions will be developed. The project has received financial support from the European Commission. Most of the members of the Technical Committee are country representatives of the European Film Archives. The membership of the Committee was recently extended to include a liaison officer from ACE in the person of Mikko Kuutti (ACE Secretary General and Deputy Director of KAVI).

The Technical Committee has set up a Project Team that has been tasked with producing a proposal for standardisation. The Project Team recently published a draft document entitled A framework for digital preservation of cinematographic works, which has now been sent for comment to the members of the ACE.

The Executive Committee would like to invite you to comment on the draft document. Please use the following procedure to access the document and make any comments you wish to make:

  • Log-in to the ACE members’ area;
  • The members’ area contains a draft PDF document entitled A framework for digital preservation of cinematographic works and a template for comments (in MS Word);
  • Download the template in order to make any comments you may have (in English).
  • Please send the document with your comments to Walter Swagemakers (email: walterswagemaker@eyefilm.nl, with cc to Mikko Kuutti (email: mikko.kuutti@kavi.fi) by Wednesday 26 May at the latest.

If you have any questions about the draft document, please contact the Project Team at: cen-pt457@iis.fraunhofer.de. One of the members of the Project Team will then answer your question.

Many thanks in advance for your cooperation!

Best wishes,

Walter Swagemakers

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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Budapest Classics Film Marathon – Call for Proposals

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

After a long and difficult year, the National Film Institute Hungary – Film Archive is organizing the 4thBudapest Classics Film Marathon onsite. The festival will take place between 21–26 September 2021. Over the six days of the festival, audiences can watch a wide selection of classic movies, participate in lectures and workshops, join cine-concerts, and enjoy various film-related programmes. 

All colleagues are invited to propose new restorations for the screening programme as well asscholarly lectures, reports on new discoveries, project ideas, and plans for panel discussions.

Recommended topics for the panel discussion

  • New restorations and discoveries
  • Ethics of digital film restoration – guidelines, problems, case studies
  • Ethics of sharing archival content
  • New paths to the audience after the pandemic

Decisions on the programme are made by the festival’s curatorial team, taking into consideration the programme focus, artistic aspects, and logistics. 

For those who already had the chance to enjoy our festival and our warm welcome, it’s an occasion toreturn to the beautiful city of Budapest. For those who could not yet participate, it’s time to discover a new destination for film professionalsand film lovers!

György Ráduly

director, NFI – Film Archive

Colleagues interested in presenting their new restorations and project(s) are kindly asked to send their proposals to nagy.tamara@nfi.hu
Submission deadline: 10 June 2021
See you in Budapest in 2021!

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.

Live stream direct access link (accessible only on 15 & 16 May)

BUBBLE BATH TRAILER

10 THINGS ABOUT BUBBLE BATH

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A SEASON OF CLASSIC FILMS: TRAILER

 

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