The past two days brought discussions on good practices, key challenges, and groundbreaking technologies in the field of digital film restoration at the Fi:Re Film Restoration Summit, a unique international conference held in Warsaw on November 9-10.
Recent years have marked success in Polish digital restoration of classic films, including the Martin Scorsese Presents: Masterpieces of Polish Cinema travelling festival and film collection, the world tour of Krzysztof Kieślowski's Decalogue 30 years after its premiere, and the resurrection of multiple pre-war blockbusters.
In November 2017, Polish and international experts had an opportunity to exchange thoughts and experiences at Fi:Re, the first international conference on the digital restoration of films.
The conference was attended by leading restoration and digitisation experts from Poland, Italy, France, Germany, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Norway, and the United States, as well as cinematographers, producers, sound restoration specialists, and heads of top festivals showcasing film classics, including: Josef Lindner, Preservation Officer at the Academy Film Archive; Gian Luca Farinelli, director of Cineteca di Bologna; Michael Friend, director of the digital archive at Sony Pictures Entertainment; Kieron Webb, Film Conservation Manager at the BFI National Archive; Martin Koerber, Chief Curator of the film archive at Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen; Céline Ruivo, head of the film archive of La Cinémathèque française; Michal Bregant, CEO of the National Film Archive in Prague, and Amy Heller and Dennis Doros, co-founders of Milestone Films.
"It was two days of intensive discussions and expert panels. This was the first major conference on film restoration and it showed us the importance of creating an environment for sharing experience. We are happy that the first edition of Fi:Re became so popular. Guests from around the world discussed not only the challenges of film restoration and archiving, but also shared their invaluable know-how. Following the success of this first edition, we are already starting to plan the next one," says Renata Pawłowska-Pyra, Head of the Film Culture Dissemination and Promotion Department at the Polish Film Institute. The conference closed with the premiere of Poland's first restoration project in 4K — Roman Polański's Nóż w wodzie (Knife in the Water).
What better city to discuss reconstruction than Warsaw, not only because of its cinematographers, colourists, and producers, but also because of its spatial context — a city that was almost completely destroyed during the war, and then rebuilt from scratch. Rebuilding the city brought about many questions similar to those now faced by those working on film restoration.
"Fi:Re is not only an excellent place for exchanging information on good practices in the field of digital restoration, but it is also a time for improving skills and vocational training," says Renata Pawłowska-Pyra. That's why the Fi:Re conference is accompanied by a digital restoration workshop, running in Warsaw from October 10 through October 27 and November 13 through November 30, 2017. Throughout those three weeks of lectures and practical sessions led by experienced specialists, workshop participants have an opportunity to explore the process of digital restoration, from scanning the original archive footage to its re-archiving. They will also undertake reconstruction of a piece of film footage using professional tools.
The Fi:Re conference was organised by the Polish Film Institute.
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Translated by Karolina Kołtun