News Roundup

A couple of totally unrelated news items worth sharing on this rainy (in NYC, anyway) Saturday afternoon. (I could have been watching Boston Blackie Goes Hollywood, but instead I'm taking the time to pass along these tidbits.)

Sub-Saharan Africa may be the most neglected group of film industries on the planet. That is why I take great pleasure in passing along this release from the Film Foundation and others:


NEW YORK, NY (June 12, 2017) – Martin Scorsese, founder and chair of The Film Foundation, Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and Aboubakar Sanogo, the North American Regional Secretary of the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) joined together Wednesday, June 7 to sign a letter of agreement formalizing their partnership on the African Film Heritage Project, a new initiative to preserve African cinema.

“I’m proud to be partnering with FEPACI and UNESCO on this critically important project,” said Martin Scorsese, “and I’m excited to have already restored the first film of the program. I believe that cinema is the perfect way to open up one’s mind and curiosity and share different cultures with people around the world. Working together, we can help ensure that Africa’s richly diverse cinematic heritage will be preserved, restored, and made available.”

In the context of UNESCO’s International Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa, and working in association with their partner and FIAF member archive Cineteca di Bologna, the project will locate and restore an initial selection of 50 African films, identified by FEPACI’s advisory board of African archivists, scholars and filmmakers. Initially launched in February at the Pan-African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the alliance has completed its first restoration: SOLEIL O (1969), directed by Med Hondo, considered to be one of the founding fathers of African cinema. The restoration premiered recently at the 70th Cannes Film Festival.

L-R: Mahen Bonetti (Founder and Executive Director, African Film Festival Inc.), Aboubakar Sanogo (North America Regional Secretary, FEPACI), Martin Scorsese (Founder and Chair of The Film Foundation), Irina Bokova (Director-General, UNESCO), Yemane Demissie (Associate Professor, New York University)
Photo credit: Dave Alloca/ Starpix
Courtesy of The Film Foundation

An extensive survey to locate the best existing film elements for each of the 50 films will be conducted in African Cinémathèques and archives around the world. Following restoration, these films will be distributed worldwide at festivals, museums, universities and other venues and made available via digital platforms and other formats. 


Much closer to home, the excellent avant-garde documentarian Lynne Sachs has an interesting program in collaboration/conjunction with fellow filmmaker Mark Street on view on Saturday, June 26 at the Microscope Gallery (1329 Willoughby Avenue, #2B, Brooklyn). She can explain it better than I can:

Link to Microscope Gallery:
Link to Advance Tickets:

Both of us have been making experimental films for more than three decades.  We've been together as a couple for almost that long.  So it is with curiosity and a tremor of fear that we embark on an unusual filmmaking project that involves each of us remaking a few selected short films from the other's body of work.   The remake production process will start with picking up the camera and reacting to the other person's selected films with a combination of humor, insight, irony, pathos and perhaps critique.

We will screen some of our older short films along with new remakes of those films (not shot-by-shot, but using the original film as inspiration).  Lynne may pick up on an element of Mark's film that he didn't even know was there! Mark may choose to ignore the content of one of Lynne's films in favor of a formal excavation. This will be an evening of doppelgangers, updates and sly renovations. The films will be shown in tag team fashion: a clip from Lynne's completed 2001 film leads into Mark's 2017 remake; Mark's completed 2015 film is followed by Lynne's 2017 remake and so on.

We will close out the program with a short film we made together as the XY Chromosome Project, the collaborative project we created in 2001.  After the screening, we will invite a conversation about form, context, time, gender and more --  contemplating the frisson that emerges between an older work and its newer progeny.