Scorsese touts film preservation at Cannes

Fri May 15, 2009 12:30pm EDT
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By Bob Tourtellotte

CANNES, France (Reuters) - Oscar-winning director Martin Scorsese on Friday unveiled a pact to release and promote restored, classic films at festivals, schools and online to broaden the audience for old masterpieces.

The World Cinema Foundation, which "The Departed" director founded and chairs, will now work with B-Side Entertainment and The Auteurs to release and promote films the WCF has restored.

"Restoration is meaningful only if people can see the work," Scorsese told reporters at the Cannes film festival where a new version of 1948's "The Red Shoes" will screen.

The WCF expects to premiere its titles at Cannes, the world's largest film festival, and afterward B-Side will tour them at festivals, museums, universities and movie clubs, as well as get them on websites like Apple's iTunes and Netflix.

The Auteurs will help promote the films to wider audiences online through its social networking website that it labels an "online movie theater."

Finally, the titles will be made available on DVD and in special editions through an established partnership with home entertainment company The Criterion Collection.

Restoration is a huge issue in the film industry because master copies of classic titles have either deteriorated to the point where they are no longer usable or they don't exist at all, anymore.

Scorsese said almost 90 percent of U.S. silent movies are gone, and originals of classic titles such as Orson Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons" (1942) no longer exist.   Continued...

<p>Director Martin Scorsese attends a news conference for the World Cinema Foundation at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival May 15, 2009. Twenty films are competing for the prestigious Palme d'Or which will be awarded on May 24. REUTERS/Vincent Kessler</p>