The British Film Institute (BFI) is launching two new initiatives as part of the Long Live Film celebration of the 75th birthday of the BFI Archive.
The Rescue The Hitchcock 9 fundraising appeal will seek to engage the public in restoring the master’s early films. The campaign is seeking £1m in funds to restore Hitchcock silent films for future generations; Kenneth Branagh voices the cinema trailer for the effort. The effort also has a new website: www.bfi.org.uk/saveafilm. Based on level of contributions, donors will get various credits and rewards. The BFI also plans to commission new scores for each film from major international composers, if enough funding is raised.
The first film that is set for restoration will be 1928 comedy The Farmer’s Wife. Others earmarked under the Hitchcock 9 are The Pleasure Garden, The Lodger, Downhill, Easy Virtue, The Ring, Champagne, The Manxman and Blackmail.
Also, the BFI is encouraging a national hunt for 75 important but elusive films in the BFI Most Wanted programme. This will include a search for the only missing Hitchcock film, The Missing Eagle (1926). The others in the Top 10 most wanted include Michael Powell’s first film Two Crowded Hours; David Hart’s 1960s drama Sleep is Lovely; The Last Post from the only female filmmaker in 1920s Britain, Dinah Shurey; and Don Sharp’s teen drama Linda.
The online resource at the BFI website, www.bfi.org.uk/mostwanted, details all 75 wanted films. The BFI hopes that some may exist in private collections and foreign archives.
The search for lost films isn’t entirely new. In 1992, the BFI compiled a list of titles called Missing Believed Lost, in a bid to track down elusive British films. Since then, 16 have been donated to the BFI National Archive. As part of BFI Most Wanted, the films that have unearthed since 1992 will screen at BFI Southbank, along with rare films not usually screened in the UK including Michael Powell’s His Lordship and Robert Milton’s Bella Donna.
The other offerings as part of Long Live Film include a retrospective of director Alberto Cavalcanti and Dangerous Beauty: The Joy of Nitrate Film.