Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation


Magazine article Journal of Film Preservation


Article excerpt

Maghreb and Middle East

Maghreb et MoyenOrient

Maghreb y Oriente Medio

Lebanese film production totals more than 300 features and nearly 1100 documentaries and shorts in 35mm, 16mm, and video. Lebanese cinema began with a period of amateurism that lasted until the 1950s, when the first generation of Lebanese professionals appeared. With the creation at Beirut of studios and the influx of Egyptian filmmakers and artists fleeing the nationalization of the industry in their country in the 1960s, a "golden age" began. From 1975, Lebanese filmmakers looked to outsiders, and above all to Europe, to finance their films, which reflected the war.

The study "Project Rescue", led by Sten Walegren of the laboratory The Gate, showed that the film heritage had been scattered during the Civil War. Lebanese films can be found in Egypt or France, some are in Lebanese locations, but the films are stored in unacceptable conditions of temperature and humidity.

The National Archive of Lebanon was created in 1999, in the urgent need to save the film archives of the Ministry of Culture. Since then the National Archive has lagged, with no budgets, incomplete legislation, inadequate conditions of storage, no acquisitions, and little or no public showings. Systematic storage and cataloguing has been initiated. A recent inventory of 16mm and 35mm involved the inspection of 2300 cans, of films produced by the Lebanese Centre National du Cinéma (CNC) between 1964 and 1983, and a project of restoration and digital transfer has begun.

The nearly 80 feature films are distribution prints on 35mm triacetate stock, most of them from the 1960s or 70s. They are worn and damaged copies, but they are shown from time to time in festivals in Lebanon and abroad.

The collections include some hundreds of posters, and nearly 8000 slides, as well as synopses, press clippings, scripts, etc., on the Lebanese cinema. There are around a thousand books available to researchers, historians, journalists, film clubs, and students.

The situation is urgent. The later it is, the more difficult it will be to find the films and the rights-holders. A plan of action is proposed that would include:

* a compilation of the archives of the CNC, in principle, an inventory of all Lebanese production from the end of the 1920s up to 1975;

* the consultation of the archives by private researchers;

* searching newspapers for information on film production and release;

* the identification of rights-holders;

* the location of printing elements in laboratories, with distributors, etc.

La producción libanesa abarca más de 300 largometrajes y casi 110 documentalesy cortos en 35mm, 16mm y video. El cine libanés tuvo una época de aficionados hasta los años 50, cuando apareció la primera generación de profesionales. Con la creación de estudios en Beiruty la inmigración de cineastas y artistas egipcios que escapaban de la nacionalización de la industria en su país, comenzó, en los 60, un período de oro. A partir de 1975, los cineastas libaneses se dirigieron a extranjeros, sobre todo europeos, para financiar sus películas sobre la guerra.

El estudio «Project Rescue» [Proyecto rescate], dirigido por Sten Walegren del laboratorio «The Gate» de Beirut ha indicado que el patrimonio filmico había sido dispersado durante la guerra civil. Se pueden encontrar películas libanesas en Egiptoy Francia, otras en Líbano, pero guardadas en condiciones inaceptables de temperatura y humedad.

Desde la urgente necesidad de salvar el archivo filmico del Ministerio de Ia cultura, en 1999, fue creado el Archivo nacional libanes. Pero, desde entonces, sigue sin presupuesto, con una legislación insuficiente, condiciones poco adecuadas de conservación, sin adquisicionesy muy escasas exhibiciones públicas. Se ha comenzado a almacenary catalogar de manera sistemática. Recientemente, se ha llevado a cabo un inventario de películas en 16mm y 35mm sobre la base de la inspección de 2300 latas de películas producidas por el Centre National du Cinéma (CNC) libanes entre 1964 y 1983, y un proyecto de restauración y transferencia digital ha dado sus primeros pasos. …

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