Cinema Revival Returns to the Wex
The Wexner Center for the Arts has always been a passionate advocate of film preservation and restoration.
David Filipi, Director of Film/Video for the Wexner Center for the Arts, says there are several reasons for that.
“Part of our mission is to present some of the great films in history,” he says. “This is a way of calling attention to important films. The fact that there’s a new restoration of a film gives it a new context and hopefully new attention, giving people a reason to check out these films for the first time or to see them again.”
The Wex offers you that reason with a weekend-long program of restored films: Cinema Revival. The festival runs Thursday, February 22 through Monday, February 26.
“It’s such an interesting time in the way that digital technology and digital tools have changed the landscape when it comes to everything related to film—film distribution, but also film restoration and preservation,” Filipi says. “Every year there are more and more films it would not have been possible to restore before digital tools were available. I think that’s a secondary reason why this is important to us: to highlight and call attention to the work that these professionals are doing. This work is being done all over the world, and I think it’s a vital part of celebrating film as a vision.”
Showcasing the work of the professionals has always been a part of the Cinema Revival programming, events Filipi is eager to share with Columbus filmgoers again this year. He says there are two real highlights for this year’s series.
“The night we show Dead Man (Friday, February 23), we’ll have three restoration experts from Criterion who will be here to talk about that,” he says. “And then the next night we’ll show Dementia 13, which is Coppola’s first legitimate feature film, along with Sophia Coppola’s first film, Lick the Star. American Zoetrope has just gotten done restoring both of those, and James Mockoski from American Zoetrope will be here to talk about those projects.”
But Filipi is not only interested in drawing attention to much-loved films given a fresh look. The program also calls out underseen films, including a look at West African Cinema and the experimental films of Barbara Hammer. There’s also a program devoted to “orphan films.”
According to Filipi, orphan films are films with no logical or legal owner.
“Who’s responsible for restoring these films?” he asks. “Who’s responsible for preserving these films? It can be home movies, corporate films, training films—films that don’t have an owner that would be invested in taking care of them.”
Filipi continues, “Dan Streible, the head of the Orphan Film Symposium, has put together a program of these types of films. I think these programs are great because, number one, it calls attention to the issue. There is this whole realm of films that would be completely neglected if there weren’t people searching them out and making an effort to restoring them. And also, there’s such a wide variety of film I think people are often surprised by how entertaining some of them can be, sometimes unintentionally entertaining but entertaining nonetheless.”
“We obviously want to show more well-known films like Dead Man and Tom Jones and Monkey Business,” Filipi says, “but we also want to show the whole spectrum of film restoration, and dedicating a program to orphan films is one way to do that.”
There is another reason the Wex is passionate about film preservation and restoration.
“Among the number of things we really take seriously here,” says Filipi, “we try to present each and every film in the best possible format and in the best possible condition. We really want to provide an atmosphere where people can come in and see a great film as it’s mean to be seen in an ideal atmosphere, no distractions. Cinema Revival is a very concentrated weekend of that, where people can hear from experts and see great films, and it’s all right here in Columbus.”
A full festival pass is $30 for members, students and seniors, $35 for the general public. For more information, visit wexarts.org/cinemarevival.
Full line up
Thursday, February 22
5 p.m.: Med Hondo & West African Cinema
7 p.m.: Soleil Ô
Friday, February 23
4 p.m.: Saving Orphan Films: The Amateurs and Others
7 p.m.: Restoration at the Criterion Collection featuring Dead Man
Saturday, February 24
12 p.m.: The Revolt of Mamie Stover
1:45 p.m.: The Crime of Monsieur Lange
4 p.m.: Monkey Business
7 p.m.: Dementia 13
Sunday, February 25
11:30 a.m.: The 7th Voyage of Sinbad
1:15 p.m. King of Hearts
3:30 p.m.: Tom Jones
Monday, February 26
4 p.m.: The Passion of Joan of Arc
Tuesday, February 27
7 p.m.: Barbara Hammer x 7: New Restorations