Friday, 21 March 2008

SENSITISING MISSION

“If you are asking about how we evaluate students and their interest about preservation of films, you have listen to the array of questions they keep asking during the classes we are conducting at the FTII,” Séverine Wemaere sounds ecstatic with the response she, along with other experts, have got during the teaching sessions as part of the first Pune Film Treasures Festival. “The students here are excellent and the issue of film-heritage is close to their heart,” she adds.

Wemaere, who is the managing director of the Paris-based Thomson Foundation for Film and Television Heritage, has been passionately working to sensitise the film-students across the world about the need to preserve films. The objective of the programme in India along with the NFAI is to “make the future filmmakers realise the how scary it is to lose their creations” or as Wemaere puts it, “a vaccination against loss.” And that’s why Thomson Foundation works in Asian, African, European and American nations in partnership with well-known archives, filmmakers and technical experts of the world.
Students must also be aware of their rights as filmmakers and that’s why one of the classes at t he FTII was dedicated to teach students about film rights, informs Wemaere.

Adding that the event in Pune is unique due to the association of premiere institutes like FTII and NFAI, Wemaere clarifies that programmes vary from country to country. She then refers to the Cambodian experience. In that country the Foundation worked to “restore the moving images that were lost due to the destructions unleashed by the Pol Pot regime.” The programme also endeavoured to “recreate the experiences” of the people who suffered the Pol Pot regime’s brutalities. And the restored, recreated images were made accessible to public in general “so that the history is not forgotten.” Sourcing films from different sources spread across the continents “was not easy.” Still, the Foundation did manage to achieve the goal. Indeed, “it’s love for the films on celluloid” that keeps Wemaere and the programmes ticking.

Wemaere has been a film enthusiast from her younger days and despite her political science background, she opted for a career at the Technicolour division of the Thomson.
Talking about the technological advancements, Wemaere makes it clear that the digital format is not the ultimate solution. She expresses her satisfaction on finding that “students at the FTII know that DVD and the Internet will not solve the problems.”

In India the Foundation wants to extend its collaboration with other film schools based in other film centres. She recently spoke with the director of Satyajit Ray Film and Television Institute in Kolkata and hopes more and more students will get enriched. The programmes will also give her the “opportunity to come across more varied film cultures of India and the world.” And that is indeed “exciting.”