Third time’s a charm for the ReFilm festival

ReFilm was created in part to broaden the use of archival work, both in Israel and around the world.

 THREE MINUTES: A Lengthening’   (photo credit: US HOLOCAUST MUSEUM)
THREE MINUTES: A Lengthening’
(photo credit: US HOLOCAUST MUSEUM)

We are deluged with all kinds of content on television and streaming services these days, but the one significant exception to this rule is classic movies, which are hard to find.

The third edition of ReFilm: Restoration Film Festival (https://jer-cin.org.il/en/lobby/refilm-restoration-film-festival), which will run June 23-30 at the Jerusalem Cinematheque in collaboration with the Israel Film Archive, celebrates beloved classics and lesser-known masterpieces by making them available as they were meant to be seen: on the big screen.

The tremendous technological changes that cinema has undergone in the last decade, primarily the transition from film to digital, have made it possible for movies to return to the screen, and the Israel Film Archive (www.jfc.org.il) at the cinematheque is in the forefront of this and keeps up with digital restorations all over the world.

ReFilm was created in part to broaden the use of archival work, both in Israel and around the world. Some of the films in languages other than English do not have English subtitles, so check before you go, if this is important to you.

Roni Mahadav-Levin, CEO of the cinematheque, said, “The great studios, archives and production companies around the world have been constantly engaged in the preservation and restoration of the rich cinematic heritage of past years in recent years.

 ‘I KNOW Where I’m Going!’ (credit: Jerusalem Cinematheque) ‘I KNOW Where I’m Going!’ (credit: Jerusalem Cinematheque)

“In this process, alongside the classics we are all familiar with, cinematic treasures are sometimes revealed that were stored in the cellars of archives and could not be screened for many years. At the Restoration Festival, we collected some of the best films that have recently been restored and digitized, and alongside great and well-known cinematic classics, we get to revisit them and get to know rare cinematic works from around the world.”

THE OPENING film, Ran Tal’s 1341 Frames of Love and War, is a look at the works of acclaimed Israeli photographer Micha Bar-Am. It examines his career and life through his photos, and the movie involves extensive use of archival material.

Tal not only shows Bar-Am’s most famous photographs, but also uses contact sheets and photographs which are not nearly as well known. By illuminating all of these photos, Tal tells Bar-Am’s personal as well as professional stories. Tal will be present at the opening screening.

The director will also participate in a discussion before screenings of Three Minutes: A Lengthening about the use of archival materials in films. Three Minutes uses three minutes of footage taken in the town of Nasielsk in Poland by David Kurtz just before World War II to tell a story about the power of memory. Hila Avraham, the Digitization Project manager at the Israel Film Archive, will also take part in the discussion. Bianca Stigter directed the film, with input from Kurtz’s grandson.

In addition, the festival will offer screenings of newly restored prints of amazing films from around the world.

Alfred Hitchcock fans will be thrilled to see the 4K theatrical cut of the 1960 Psycho, perhaps the director’s most iconic work, a black-and-white movie that features a murder sequence that is as shocking and terrifying as anything ever filmed, and which features Anthony Perkins’s sweetly malevolent performance in what turns out to be the title role.

For those who like romantic classics, nothing fits the bill better than the rarely screened I Know Where I’m Going! by the great British directing team Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (a Jew born in the Austro-Hungarian empire, who fled Germany for Britain in the 1930s and directed many classics of British cinema).

The charming and memorable movie stars Wendy Hiller as the fiancée of a wealthy Scottish aristocrat who heads to the Hebrides for their wedding, only to find herself falling for a younger man, after stormy weather leaves her stranded on a different island.

Another British film, Joseph Losey’s The Servant (1963), features a screenplay by Harold Pinter and tells the story of a servant (Dirk Bogarde) who is hired by a young, upper-class man (James Fox). The servant turns out to have a hidden agenda.

Mike Leigh’s Naked (1993) is a grittier and more recent story of a homeless antihero played by David Thewlis, whom you might remember as Maude’s friend in The Big Lebowski.

There are a number of American films in the festival. These include Francis Ford Coppola’s adaptation of the classic teen novel The Outsiders (1983). The movie starred a Who’s Who of the top young actors of that era, including Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Matt Dillon and Diane Lane. The first and, many would say, the best adaptation of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, called Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), features the delightful Gene Wilder as the eccentric chocolate mogul.

French cinema is represented by two of the greatest classics of all times. Jean Renoir’s The Rules of the Game (1939), a darkly comic look at aristocrats and their servants in a chateau on the eve of World War II, stars Marcel Dalio and Nora Gregor. Renoir himself, who was the son of the famous Impressionist painter, has a key role in the film. Some consider this to be his masterpiece, and it features the often-quoted line, which Renoir delivers in the film: “The awful thing about life is this: Everybody has their reasons.”

Luis Bunuel was Spanish, but he lived and worked in France for decades. His 1972 movie, The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie, is in French. It stars Fernando Rey and Delphine Seyrig in a surreal and very funny story of three couples who try to have dinner together and keep being interrupted.

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s 1975 movie, Salo or 120 Days of Sodom, is an adaptation of the Marquis de Sade classic, as well as a pointed critique of fascism. It has been called one of the most repulsive movies ever made, so be warned. It is only for those over 18.

Mohammad Reza Aslani’s Chess of the Wind is a family drama made in 1976 and set in Tehran It was shown just once before it was banned in the Islamic Revolution.

Perhaps the rarest of all the treasures in this festival are two films by the Japanese director Kinuyo Tanaka. Tanaka was a prominent actress who acted in films by some of the greatest Japanese filmmakers, including Ozu and Mizoguchi. In the 1950s, she directed six films, and two of them will be shown in the film festival: Forever a Woman and The Moon Has Risen, both of which examine the emotional lives of Japanese women.