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Sunday, 22 October 2017

Kicking a man when he's down - Harvey Weinstein gets both barrels

Harvey Weinstein's fall from whatever grace he had has brought back some memories and brought on some swift actions. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences which has lavished Oscars on Harvey in the past as well as on Woody Allen, Roman Polanski, Louis B Mayer and Harry Cohn, very promptly withdrew Harvey's membership.

So did the BFI which at one stage gave Harvey its highest accolade, a BFI Fellowship. Harvey was held in awe and was quite intimidating a presence to those who might have to even deal with his name or might hold a less than fulsome view of some of Harvey's work and activities. 

But I digress because for those of you who don't read the Fairfax papers there is a story to tell about Harvey and the land down under. Most of it has told by Fairfax journalist Megan Doherty and has appeared in their publications after first appearing in The Canberra Times

In the story, former Canberra Film Festival director Simon Weaving  pulls no punches in revealing that "he resigned from the festival in late 2012 - when Weinstein had been locked in as the guest - partly due to his concerns about the financial risks around Body of Work." Body of Work was one gong that Harvey was to have bestowed upon him way back then.

Weaving went on to say: "He also held grave concerns about the festival honouring Weinstein, saying the heavyweight producer "was known in the industry as not a pleasant
person", the event was likely to be an exercise in sycophancy at a considerable financial cost to a relatively small arts organisation and Weinstein, in any case, was more a businessman than true artist.

"I've never been a fan of him for Body of Work because he doesn't have a body of work, he's a producer and a wheeler and dealer and well known for screwing over screenwriters and filmmakers and forcing people to change their films." 

The story says that as well HW would be presented "with the inaugural Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts International Fellowship for championing Australian film".

I guess I missed that championing though I do recall someone telling me that the crappy happy ending of the movie version of Louis Nowra's Cosi was imposed on the producers by the US distributor Miramax which I guess might mean Harvey. Oh well, just kicking a man when he's down.

Anyway the story goes that then PM Julia Gillard was to make the AACTA presentation which would have made for a nice photo, but not to be. 

Saturday, 21 October 2017

Canberra International Film Festival (4) - David Walsh of the Imperial War Museum reveals the restoration process for WESTERN APPROACHES (Pat Jackson, UK, 1944)

Andrew Pike, Director of the Canberra International Film Festival writes: CIFF is privileged to be presenting the World Premiere of a brand new restoration of Pat Jackson’s Technicolor first feature, WESTERN APPROACHES (1944).   

WESTERN APPROACHES screens once only, on Friday 3 November at 8.15, at the NFSA’s Arc Cinema.  For Bookings Click Here

Here is an outline by David Walsh from the Imperial War Museum of the restoration process:

Western Approaches Restoration
The original nitrate masters of this film were deposited with IWM in the 1970s. The original Technicolor process employed a highly complex camera which captured the images on three separate reels of black and white film simultaneously, one for each primary colour red, green and blue.

The digital restoration of the picture was carried out at 2K resolution by Dragon Digital in the UK by scanning the original camera negatives of each of the 9 reels of the film, a total of 27 reels in all. In principle, recreating the original colours is simply a matter of applying the correct colour to each scanned reel and digitally overlaying these to create a full colour image. In practice however, due to imprecisions in the original technology and subsequent shrinkage of the nitrate film, each shot has to be carefully registered across the entire image, something which requires specialised de-warping software. Otherwise, the originals were in excellent condition and very little additional restoration work was required.

Western Approaches (Pat Jackson, UK, 1944)
The film was primarily shot on location in the most difficult of conditions, and so the colour balance of the original photography changes greatly from scene to scene. This problem is particularly acute in shots that were filmed using an inferior technology known as ‘monopack’ (which used a colour reversal film stock) – this was due to the restrictions on carrying the full Technicolor equipment on an Atlantic convoy. In the original Technicolor prints, these colour variations were evened out by very careful grading in order to remove any distracting discontinuities in the look of the film; fortunately IWM has a very fine nitrate print made in 1944 which we were able to screen for the colourist from Dragon so that she could recreate the look of the original as far as possible.

It is fair to say that the limitations of the original technology meant that although Technicolor prints had very fine colours, they were not able to reveal the full level of detail held in the original camera negatives. Digital scanning of these originals results in beautifully defined images, which, although they may not authentically reproduce the slightly diffuse look of the 1944 print, none-the-less are a faithful rendition of the remarkable level of detail captured in the original photography.

The soundtrack was captured for us from the nitrate optical track masters by the BFI National Film Archive using a system which takes a highly detailed digital image of the track, and then uses software to convert this into a sound file.

David Walsh

IWM 2017