Saving Film History

Saving Film History

One of TIFF’s greatest motivations behind our recent acquisition of over 1,300 35mm prints from NBC Universal, Mongrel Media, and Entertainment One was to ensure that the rich variety of artists, subjects, and narratives they showcase are preserved to inspire and educate generations to come. These films take us from Iran (*The Wind Will Carry Us*, dir. Abbas Kiarostami) to South Africa (*U-Carmen eKhayelitsha*, dir. Mark Dornford-May), from Romania (*4 months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days*, Dir. Cristian Mungiu) to Tunisia (*Silences of the Palace*, dir. Moufida Tlatli), and all the way back home, with a wealth of Canadian work. With this precious cargo of amazing titles now in our facilities, TIFF can continue to celebrate the best in homegrown and international talent.

Two prominent Canadian filmmakers represented in this acquisition are Deepa Mehta (Water) and Jennifer Baichwal (Manufactured Landscapes). The award-winning directors spoke to use about the importance of preserving film history and why TIFF’s protection of these collections is an essential undertaking.

Deepa Mehta and Jennifer Baichwal

Deepa Mehta and Jennifer Baichwal

“I lined up for hours on a really cold December day in Florence to see Michelangelo’s David,” recalled Deepa. “The real one, not a reproduction nor a painting of the statue, but the luminous David sculpted out of marble the way Michelangelo wanted his work to be seen in its authenticity.

“The analogy is true of all art. And film is an integral component of artistic expression. The thrill of being able to see a film projected the way the filmmaker intended it to be is nothing short of a miracle in this day and age of digital speak. To preserve this artistic form the way TIFF does is a categorical imperative. When you help us preserve films, you help us preserve the integrity of the filmmaker.”

Still from Water


Added Jennifer: “Manufactured Landscapes was the last film we shot on 16mm, and Payback was the last film we released on 35mm. Although since then the advances in digital technology have been seductive and prodigious, I am often kept awake at night thinking about what a lasting record of audiovisual work looks like going forward. What will happen to all those [digital] 0s and 1s? The cans that take up shelves in our basement are reassuring, tactile artifacts. The extensive film preservation program of TIFF – to get those cans out of basements into proper long-term storage – is a crucial part of maintaining our cinematic history, and a vital counterpoint to the planned obsolescence of current technology.”

Still from Manufactured Landscapes

Manufactured Landscapes

In order to support the costs associated with reviewing, storing and archiving the extraordinary prints in this acquisition, TIFF launched the Save this Moment campaign in November 2016. Over 220 donors came on board to raise almost $50,000 to help protect and project the films they love. On behalf of all of us at TIFF, THANK YOU for your incredible generosity and we look forward to sharing updates with you throughout 2017.

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