Fourth annual festival focuses on film restoration

Clearly, film is an important art form. The restoration of film is a technical process, but is also an art form all its own.

The Wexner Center for the Arts pays tribute to both in Cinema Revival, a six-day festival featuring recently restored films from a cross section of collections and directors.

“We have some broad parameters. We try to focus on recent restorations and to show things that haven't been available on home video or streaming services,” said Wexner Center Director of Film/Video Dave Filipi. “We take preservation seriously, and we like to think that people can rest easy, assured that they're seeing [the films] in about the best possible way they can.”

“We're an art center,” Filipi added. “There's an emphasis on film as art, and that people are going to encounter something as these diverse films bump up against each other.”

Highlights of this year's Cinema Revival include the premiere screening of the restoration of “Dementia 13,” Francis Ford Coppola's mainstream directorial debut (he also wrote the script); and the cult classic “King of Hearts,” an absurdist satire that will be introduced by Tim Lanza, vice president and archivist at the Cohen Film Collection, which oversaw the film's restoration.

“We worked with the estate, really the family, of (director) Philippe de Broca to get back the rights from MGM, who weren't really doing anything with the film,” Lanza said.

Lanza praised the opportunity provided by Cinema Revival and other such festivals for offering a venue for the screening of these often-forgotten works.

“We don't want to just restore a film and put it on a shelf,” Lanza said. “Just seeing these films raises awareness not only of the original work, but also of what it takes to preserve them. Our goal is to achieve as close to the quality that would have been seen by the audience when [a film] was first screened.”

Filipi said that's why offering introductory discussions with those in the industry, like Lanza, is important, alongside individuals involved in the making of the film. “It makes you appreciate how much work goes into [preservation],” he said. “In our digital culture, we tend to take images for granted.”