Ten films directed by David Lean during the 1940s and 50s have been faithfully restored by the BFI National Archive, in partnership with Granada International, to coincide with the centenary year of the great British film director. The sparkling new restorations were announced today at the BFI as part of a year-long programme of events, screenings, tributes, book and DVD releases involving different organisations and allowing people across Britain to discover and rediscover Lean’s work.
David Lean season at BFI Southbank
The £1 million restoration project was completed thanks to generous funding from the David Lean Foundation. The Foundation was set up at Lean’s request to promote the appreciation of film as an art form and to encourage skills and technical excellence in filmmaking.
David Lean remains one of Britain’s most widely known and respected directors and many of his films are part of our national memory, whether the forlorn couple in the station cafÃ© or that tiny figure shimmering on the desert horizon. A master of visual storytelling, Lean was meticulous in his craft and admired by filmmakers for his loving attention to detail. Like Hitchcock, Lean loved to explore the nature of British – or English – identity whether on the Home Front of wartime drama, literary adaptations and doomed romances, or on the larger canvas of his later Hollywood-backed epics.
Most of us know the great Lean epics that won many awards here and in Hollywood – The Bridge on the River Kwai (1957), Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Doctor Zhivago (1965) – but he directed 16 fiction films and edited numerous others in a career that spanned six decades. The BFI and its partners aim to cast new light on his earlier work which includes the classics In Which We Serve (1942), Brief Encounter (1945) and Great Expectations (1946), also enabling people to rediscover lesser-known films such as The Passionate Friends (1948), to be released by the BFI in June.
At BFI Southbank in June and July there will be a retrospective of the 16 feature films Lean directed, as well as a number of the more significant ones he edited, including Pygmalion (1938) by Anthony Asquith and 49th Parallel (1941), directed by Michael Powell. The two-month season, in association with Film 4, will also include events with documentary clips, discussions and feature presentations from experts exploring themes around his career and working style. Full details of the programme will be announced in the spring.
Throughout the year, brand new 35mm and high definition digital prints of the restored films will be screened up and down the country by Granada International, through its theatrical partners Park Circus and the BFI, and by Optimum Releasing. A complete season is also planned for screening on Film 4 in September, taking Lean’s films to a wider audience across Britain. Also ITV DVD and Optimum will release the newly restored pictures on DVD in the UK in August.
BAFTA is a charity organisationwithlong-established links with David Lean, which supports, develops and promotes the art forms of the moving image. BAFTA will be holding events and screenings in London, New York and Los Angeles for the public and for Academy members, starting with a tribute to David Lean at the Orange British Academy Film Awards on 10 February. There will be further tributes in the US later in the year, and during the first weekend in August four restored prints will be screened publicly at BAFTA’s headquartersonPiccadilly. The annual
David Lean Lecture will also take place as usual this year, details of the date and 2008 lecturer are yet to be announced.
CALENDAR OF EVENTS
June: Ten newly restored titles released across the UK
The David Lean Foundation has generously funded the restoration of ten of Sir David Lean’s sixteen films by the BFI National Archive, Granada International and Studiocanal / Optimum Releasing, and these will be available in high quality 35mm prints and HD digital format through BFI Distribution and Park Circus.
June – July: Rediscover David Lean: Retrospective at BFI Southbank
In addition to screening all of David Lean’s works as director and a selection of those which he edited, BFI Southbank will also present a number of events ranging from presentations by xperts in particular aspects of his work, to introduced screenings by those associated with individual titles and will also include discussions embracing different perspectives on some of these classic titles.
July – December: USA theatrical tour (BFI, Park Circus)
24 / 25 July: David Lean Conference, Queen Mary University of London
Gathering together film-makers, writers, scholars and people who knew Lean, this conference will offer a broad range of perspectives. Papers welcome on individual films, conditions of production, literary adaptation, key collaborations, as well as all other aspects of Lean’s life in the cinema.
August: ITVDVD release The David Lean Centenary Collection
Optimum Releasing issue The Sound Barrier and Hobson’s Choice on DVD
2 -3 August: Public screenings of a selection offour restored prints of David Lean films at BAFTA’s headquarters on 195 Piccadilly, London
September: An event in honour of David Lean, presented by BAFTA East Coast in New York City
David Lean Season on Film4, including restored prints
Opening of The David Lean Library at the National Film and Television School
Generously supported by the David Lean Foundation, the light and airy David Lean Library is a central feature of the School’s new building, completed in time for the new academic year starting at the end of January 2008. As well as increased space for books and study, the new Library provides improved storage facilities for the School’s collections, including room for many years of growth in audio-visual material.
Date TBC: BAFTA David Lean Centenary Lecture
Since 2001, the David Lean Foundation has generously supported BAFTA’s high profile annual film lecture at 195 Piccadilly designed to educate, inform and inspire practitioners by providing insight into the experiences of some of the world’s most compelling filmmakers. Previous lectures have been given by Sydney Pollack, Robert Altman, Ken Loach, John Boorman, Woody Allen, Oliver Stone and David Lynch. The lecturer for 2008 has yet to be announced.