Cinema Ritrovato is, with the Festival Lumière in Lyon, the world’s premiere film festival devoted to classic, rare and restored films and it is not hyperbole to say that it is a magical event. For nine days the ancient city of Bologna turns into the world capital of classic movies and a cinephile’s dream, with dozens of daily screenings, talks, symposia, and master classes. Lines of passionate film lovers snake in front of theaters in the old city center where the warm air is scented with the aromas of Bologna fabled cuisine.
The beating heart of the festival is the Cineteca di Bologna, the film archive founded in 1962, directed by Gian Luca Farinelli and headquartered in the complex which also houses the film labs of Immagine Ritrovata, the world-class restoration facilities which have saved hundreds of prints from oblivion, becoming world-renowned in the process. The festival’s most spectacular events are the free screenings which take place each night in the central Piazza Maggiore which fills with audiences 5,000 strong as films of the past relive on the big screen. One of the featured films in the piazza this year was Federico Fellini’s Roma in a new 4K restoration by Immagine Ritrovata, funded by a $120,000 grant by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The world premiere screening in this capital city of Emilia Romagna, Fellini’s native region, was a prelude to the worldwide celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Italian master.
The restoration is part of the HFPA’s growing efforts to support film preservation. Last year the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) announced a contribution in partnership with Institut Lumière to help restore 300 short films by the Lumière Brothers. In collaboration with Cineteca di Bologna and the Lumière Foundation, the donation funded the second phase of restoration of the world’s very first movies.
Since 1996, the HFPA has contributed $5.7 million to The Film Foundation in support of the preservation/restoration of over 90 films. In 2018 HFPA grants supported the 4K digital restoration of The Black Pirate (1926, d. Albert Parker) personally selected by Alexander Payne. With HFPA support, many other titles have been restored by The Film Foundation, UCLA Film and TV Archives, and the Cineteca di Bologna.
The Bologna screening was introduced by outgoing HFPA president Meher Tatna and Italian director Gianni Amelio. “The Hollywood Foreign Press Association has long been a supporter of film restoration with the goal of preserving the rich history of the world’s movie heritage,” Meher said. “We’re proud to partner with Cinema Ritrovato and the Cineteca in Bologna as they are one of the world’s premiere showcases and restoration labs for classic films.”
HFPA also supports restoration efforts by the Film Noir Foundation, IndieCollect, and the Outfest UCLA Legacy Project. In March 2019 the First HFPA Restoration Summit saw the participation of Jane Fonda, Alexander Payne, Thierry Fremaux, Grover Crisp, director of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastery at Sony Pictures and Jan-Christopher Horak, the director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. The Summit featured a screening of Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars restored by The Film Foundation and Cineteca di Bologna thanks to an HFPA grant. In 2020 The HFPA will host the US premiere of the newly restored copy of Fellini’s Roma in Los Angeles.
As part of its restoration and film preservation mission, the HFPA also partnered with The Film Foundation for the nitrate retrofit of the projection booth at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood. Less than a handful of theaters in the US have the ability to screen nitrate film on a regular basis.