The third edition of the annual Film Preservation and Restoration workshop by the Film Heritage Foundation (FHF) was jointly inaugurated by Kamal Haasan and Mani Ratnam in Chennai on Wednesday.
The workshop, organised by FHF in collaboration with Viacom 18, will be held in Chennai between October 7 and 14. It has been successfully held in Bombay and Pune in the last two years, and will now be available to film enthusiasts in the South for the first time this year.
Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, founder of FHF, spoke about the urgent need to preserve India’s film heritage. Kamal Haasan said, “Preservation is not just about saving something for historic references.
It is more than that. That is why governments spend a lot of money on archaeology. We, as one of the largest filmmaking nations in the world, have done little, but we have a great hero in Shivendraji now, whose passion has driven this whole initiative forward.”
Dungarpur added, “Of the 1,700 silent films made in India, Madras film industry alone made 124 silent films and 38 documentaries. None of these survive except the 1931 Malayalam film, Marthanda Varma, and nothing remains of the first Tamil silent film Keechaka Vadham or the first Tamil talkie Kalidasa.”
Mani Ratnam, who could identify personally with such loss, expanded,”We were floundering in the dark. Our films were just disappearing. So much so that we couldn’t even get the correct copies of films made in 2000. Balu Mahendra’s films are completely gone, and so, too, have mine.”
The filmmaker went on to add, “The written word gets preserved in so many forms, but this being an audio and visual medium, it has to be done with care. For a country that has produced such content from early 20th century, it is quite important to embrace this art of preserving and restoring films.”
The workshop will be conducted in partnership with International Federation of Film Archives and Martin Scorcese’s The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project.
Also, this year, for the first time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences will be an event partner.