A journey into the magic of silent films at TIFF 2012 - Georges Méliès | TIFF

A journey into the magic of silent films at TIFF 2012 - Georges Méliès

02.04.2012 03:00
This year, when silent films are back into the spotlight, Transilvania International Film Festival invites all cinema-goers to a fantastic journey in the past, to the very beginnings of the 7th art

Georges Méliès is one of the most amazing cinema personalities. Between 1896 and 1913, he has produced, directed and distributed more than 520 films. In May 1902, he shot the film A Trip to the Moon that would become the source of inspiration for generations of filmmakers. It was released in black and white, and also in color, hand painted. It was considered as a long feature at the time - around 16 minutes - and was success worldwide. The first blockbuster in the history of cinema was immediately pirated and plagiarized. In 1913, the black and white version survived Georges Méliès’ act of folly, when he attempted to burn his collection of film negatives.

The color version was considered definitively lost, however a color print was finally found in 1993 in Barcelona, Spain, donated by a private film collector to the Filmoteca de Catalunya. However, the nitrate print had been severely damaged over time and was in such poor condition that attempting any restoration work seemed futile. In 2010, a project team was set up, involving 3 experts in worldwide film restoration: a private collection Lobster Films, and two non profit entities, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage. This team launched one of the most complex and ambitious restoration project in the history of cinema, with a budget equivalent to a long feature high-end restoration (more than 400,000 euros).

The color version of the Georges Méliès' masterpiece, A Trip to the Moon (1902), will be visible for the first time in Romania, 110 years after its first release. The film was premiered at the Opening of Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 2011 with an original soundtrack by the French band AIR.

TIFF will also host the screening of The Extraordinary Voyage, a fascinating documentary directed by Serge Bromberg and Eric Lange that charts the film’s voyage across the century and into the next millennium, from the fantastical Méliès’s production in 1902 to the rediscovery of the print in color in 1993 to the premiere of the new restoration on the opening night of the Cannes Film Festival.

Festival Interviews with some of contemporary cinema’s most imaginative filmmakers such as Costa Gavras, Michel Gondry, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Michel Hazanavicius and Martin Scorsese attest to Méliès’ enduring significance.

How was it like to be a film spectator back in the 1900’s? The answer to the question comes straight from Georges Méliès’ descendants: his great-granddaughter Marie-Hélène Lehérissey and her son Lawrence Lehérissey, the performers of Cine-Concert Georges Méliès. A definitive selection of  Méliès’ films will be accompanied by Lawrence Lehérissey and Marie-Hélène Lehérissey, who will be performing live piano improvisations and narration, a practice that stays true to the way these films were presented in the 1900s.

The performance is organized with the support of Les Amis de Georges Méliès’ Association and is brought at TIFF thanks to the French Cultural Center from Cluj.

 The 11th edition of the Transilvania Film Festival is due to take place June 1st – 10th, 2012 in Cluj-Napoca.