This 20th anniversary edition of To Save and Project includes more than 80 newly preserved features and shorts from 18 countries, many having world or North American premieres and presented in original versions not seen since their initial theatrical releases. The festival opens with the North American premiere of the Douglas Fairbanks swashbuckler The Black Pirate (Albert Parker, 1926), introduced by filmmaker Alexander Payne. MoMA and The Film Foundation’s complex restoration faithfully reconstructs the film’s original palette of rich browns and greens, capturing the look of Technicolor’s Process Two such as it hasn’t been seen in nearly 100 years.
Focused programs on music are introduced by the singer-songwriter Judy Collins and DEVO’s Gerald Casale. We also present the world premiere of John Ford’s Arrowsmith (1931) in its original theatrical release version, as well as Andy Warhol’s never-before-seen Bitch (1965), which screens in a special program with a newly struck 35mm print of Mike Nichols’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1966). Other festival highlights include the North American premieres of films by Chantal Akerman, Agnieszka Holland, Kōzaburō Yoshimura, Idrissa Ouédraogo, Menelek Shabazz, Alain Tanner, Agnès Varda, and Wim Wenders, as well as Monta Bell’s Man, Woman and Sin ( 1927); Wong Tin-lam’s The Wild, Wild Rose (1960), a cosmopolitan retelling of Bizet’s Carmen starring Hong Kong’s “mambo girl,” Grace Chang; Aribam Syam Sharma’s The Chosen One (1990), which offers a rare glimpse of moviemaking in the Indian state of Manipur; and two Soviet documentaries from 1929 and 1930 by the Armenian pioneer Hamo Bek-Nazaryan. The New York premieres of William Worthington’s The Dragon Painter (1919), starring Sessue Hayakawa, and Richard Eichberg’s Weimar melodrama Pavement Butterfly (1929), starring Anna May Wong, are presented in tribute to two American actors who radically redefined the ways in which Asians were depicted in Hollywood cinema.
This year’s lineup also includes several banned or severely censored and recut films that have been reconstructed as closely as possible to their original versions, including Tsui Hark’s original, uncut version of Dangerous Encounters: 1st Kind (1980), which spooked the Hong Kong censors in a volatile climate of political instability. International cult classics in pristine new restorations include Richard C. Sarafian’s Vanishing Point (1971), the wild, existential car chase movie cowritten by Cuban novelist Guillermo Cabrera Infante; Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz’s Lovecraftian drive-in horror movie Messiah of Evil (1974) in a new 35mm print; and Flash Gordon, the 13-chapter Hollywood serial from 1936, widely regarded as one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. Sidebars in To Save and Project include a tribute to the filmmaker and visual anthropologist Skip Norman (one of several programs devoted to African and African diaspora cinema); the celebrated archivist Rick Prelinger presenting two self-curated programs featuring some of his favorite sponsored films, most of them shown in his own unique archival prints; a program of experimental films of the 1960s–80s by the Argentinian artist Narcisa Hirsch; and a program of Kafka-inspired avant-garde 1950s shorts by the London-based Italian émigré Lorenza Mazzetti.
Organized by Joshua Siegel, Curator, Department of Film, MoMA, with Francisco Valente, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Film, MoMA, and Cindi Rowell, independent curator.