corsese's Film Foundation is setting out to restore classic works of African cinema in another heroic (and Herculean) act of film preservation.
This probably doesn't sound like huge news, but trust me, it is. The preservation of great film from all around the world is incredibly important, not just for film-makers looking for inspiration or critics and theorists looking for nuggets of unseen wonder; filmgoers in general benefit from a healthier cinematic medium where history and diversity of vision are celebrated.
In light of this, Martin Scorsese's brilliant film preservation initiative The Film Foundation is now partnering with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) and UNESCO to create the African Film Heritage Project, whose first undertaking will be the restoration and re-release of 50 films with historic, artistic, and cultural significance.
Scorsese announced the project in a video address to FESPACO, the annual Panafrican Film and Television Festival of Ouagadougou, which you can watch below:
This is vital work, as evidenced by the words of FEPACI Secretary General Cheick Oumar Sissoko: "Africa needs her own images, her own gaze testifying on her behalf, without the distorting prism of others, of the foreign gaze saddled by prejudice and schemes."
It's also wonderful to see Scorsese getting behind such a project, even if it isn't all that surprising; the filmmaker's evident and broad love of film is well-documented. Here's hoping these restorations will make it over here at some point. African cinema is a huge blind-spot for this writer, and I intend to correct that, especially considering this announcement. You should too: world cinema is a wealth of riches, and not nearly enough people dip their toes in. There's some incredible stuff out there.