US presents Ray's digitally restored films to India

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Kolkata, Nov 6 (UNI) A fitting tribute to legendary filmmaker Satyajit Ray, in the form of the maestro's digitally restored and preserved classics, can be cherished at the 14th Kolkata Film Festival beginning November 10.

Elaborating on the initiative, Public Affairs Officer and Director of the American Center Douglas G Kelly told mediapersons here today, ''Satyajit Ray will be the theme of two special packages which the American Consulate's Public Affairs Office is bringing to Kolkata. The first package comprises Ray's favourite Hollywood films while the other is of the immortal filmmaker's classics that have been restored by the US Academy of Motion Pictures.'' The films which feature in the first package - 'Ray's Hollywood' - are 'The Southerner' (1945), 'Trouble in Paradise' (1932), 'A Night at the Opera' (1935), 'The Maltese Falcon' (1941), 'Citizen Kane' (1941), 'Double Indemnity' (1944) and 'Rear Window' (1954).

Mr Josef Lindner, a preservationist at the US Academy of Motion Pictures, said, ''Ray's acclaimed classic 'Aparajito' will be screened for the first time after its restoration and subsequent preservation by the Academy. Apart from Aparajito, the second package of Ray's own films restored by the Academy include 'Teen Kanya', 'Parosh Pathar', 'Joy Baba Felunath' and 'Two', a short film.'' Speaking on his tryst with the legendary artist's creations, Mr Lindner said, ''The project for restoring and preserving these classics began in 1992 when the Academy was preparing to honour Ray with the Lifetime Achievement Award. The funds were provided by Martin Scorsese's Film Foundation, apart from the Academy.

Altogether 18 of Ray's films have been preserved for posterity so far and we hope to continue the good work. The next project we are working on is The Chess Players,'' he added.

Talking about the challenges he had to face while digitally restoring these masterpieces, he said, ''The preservation of 'Abhijan' was one of the most daunting tasks as mould had eaten away the photographic emulsion and only the plastic base was left. The soundtrack was also destroyed by acidic deterioration. Similarly, 'Parosh Pathar' needed major work while 'Nayak' was in pretty good shape.'' To a query, he said the restoration of the soundtrack of 'Abhijan' alone cost USD 26,000 while the average budget for the preservation of each of these classics was around USD 75,000.

Mr Lindner's major preservation projects include 'The Sound of Music' (1965), 'Patton' (1970), 'Abhijan' (1962) and 'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne' (1968).

Speaking on the occasion, internationally known film critic Peter Rainer said, ''These digitally remastered classics have featured in several international film festivals in Spain, Norway, Sweden, UK and other countries. 'Aparajito' was also commercially released in the UK. Similarly, 'Abhijan' and 'Goopy Gyne Bagha Byne' were very well received when they were screened at Los Angeles and Washington DC.'' UNI DPM KK SB PK HT2020

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