Britain's South West Screen goes mobile

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Following its “painstaking” restoration, a 1967 custom-built cinema on wheels has been touring across villages of the U.K.’s South West, presenting the “Reel History of Britain” as culled from the British Film Institute collections and other regional archives (1900-1970). In a project funded by South West Screen and the U.K. Film Council’s Digital Film Archive Fund, BBC Two host Lord Bragg meets members of the public who appeared in the historic films featured in the series and brings them face-to-face with their relatives.

“The bus has surpassed all our expectations,” noted Sarah-Jane Meredith, head of creative and audience development at South West Screen. “Watching films in the bus is a wonderful experience and everyone leaves with a smile on their faces, chatting not only about the comfy seats, the warm welcome from [bus owners] Emma and Ollie, but also the wonderful films they have seen. The success of this project has been inspirational.”

CinemaxX Sends Moviegoers Sliding
The Freiburg location (nine screens and 2,200 seats) of Germany’s leading circuit (www.cinemaxx.de) became the eighth multiplex to feature a “Flutsche” for its younger film fans. That’s CinemaxX-speak for a “steeply wound” stainless-steel slide that snakes across four stories while propelling kids from a height differential of some 16.5 meters (54 feet). With their movie ticket, all children six and older can use the slide as often as they wish before or after the film. With an average share of young moviegoers in the 20 to 30% range in Freiburg, the cost of €40,000 (US$53,000) seems spent wisely.

Parlez-vous Holidays?

Hard to believe the holidays are almost here. Not so hard to believe is that this year’s biggest preview of holiday tech and gadget giving came by way of “A Parisian Holiday” in New York City presented by the expo experts at Pepcom.

From Acer and Altec Lansing to Magellan and Motorola to Tagg-The Pet Tracker to Toshiba to Victorinox Swiss Army, more than 90 companies demonstrated all those goodies that will keep consumers busy in their homes, occupied at work and, more likely these days, connected on the go-go-go: the smartest smart phones, coolest cameras and tablets, all-new ultrabooks, home-theatre accessories, Fitbit activity checker, tons of toys, videogames and media storage/streaming software, even lightbulbs that double as wireless speakers.

The most interesting item? The 3M line of mobile video projectors. Cool idea? The portable wireless speaker dock by Acoustic Research, which charges and streams audio wirelessly from phones and tablets. Useful and practical? RCA’s wall-plate charger that turns any power outlet into a USB charging station. The least movie-theatre-friendly promise? Maybe that was D-Link’s “high-performance solutions that enable consumers to build the ultimate home network…to connect, share, entertain, work, play and view.” Or perhaps Channel Master’s invitation to “cut the cord with the most advanced subscription-free HDTV solution available.” Happy Holidays!

Perugia Previews PIFF

At the beginning of October, the Perugia (Italy) International Film Festival (PIFF) provided a preview taste of things to come during its inaugural edition in the spring of 2012 (www.perugiafilmfest.com). The two days of free public events included screenings and panel discussions with documentary filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus and with photographer-filmmaker Bruce Weber, both hosted by Rajendra Roy of Manhattan’s Museum of Modern Art. Jennifer Ahn of The Film Foundation; Giancarlo Zagni, assistant director to Luchino Visconti, and Academy Award-winning costume designer James Acheson presented a screening of Visconti’s Senso. The closing night title at the beautiful Teatro Pavone was The Forgiveness of Blood by Joshua Marston.

Mumbai Salutes Worldwide Film
With the main screenings held at Cinemax Versova, the 13th Mumbai International Film Festival, lovingly known as MAMI (Oct. 13-20), presented a special selection of films co-curated by our former correspondent Uma da Cunha and Therese Hayes, programmer at the Palm Springs International Film Festival (Jan. 5-16, 2012).

Da Cunha’s Film India Worldwide has established a tradition of highlighting “films that are international in character but linked to a recognizable Indian idiom,” she writes. “These films are by filmmakers originating from India and now living elsewhere, whose heart and art echo back to their homeland. Or they are by international filmmakers who come to India’s locations to reflect its reality with new eyes.” And, indeed, this year’s lineup of seven includes co-productions with Germany (Arranged Happiness by Daniela Dar-Creutz) and France (Chatrak/Mushrooms, Vimukthi Jayasundara), as well as films made in the United Kingdom (Everywhere and Nowhere, Menhaj Huda) and South Africa (Lucky, Avie Luthra).

Kinoton Puts Kundenkinos Online
As part of its commitment to “full service and customer care,” the German tech experts at Kinoton have expanded their maintenance offerings. As part of the Kinoton Remote Service (KRS), cinema owners and operators can now directly access their digital projection network anytime and virtually from any web browser. Online portal MeineKinos allows real-time monitoring of all key operating data including lamphouse hours, temperature, hard-drive status and information about soft- and firmware updates.

In addition to Kinoton’s DCP- and DP-series projectors, MeineKinos supports most d-cinema servers, including those from Dolby and Doremi, with new equipment being added. Exhibitors also have the option to customize remote monitoring for their existing equipment, Kinoton says.

To Save and Project

As during the previous eight editions, the Ninth MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation (Oct. 14 to Nov. 19) makes any film lover’s hearts beat faster. Among the many worthy titles that have been restored by archives and institutions around the world and organized by Joshua Siegel, associate curator, Department of Film, The Museum of Modern Art, we are only mentioning two of several with European provenance.

What could be more deserving of attention than the hand-painted color version of Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la lune (A Trip to the Moon), to be screened on Nov. 7? MoMA notes that the 1902 milestone has been “unseen for 109 years until its glorious new restoration” by Lobster Films, Groupama Gan Foundation for Cinema and Technicolor Foundation for Cinema Heritage. A few days earlier, Martin Scorsese and Thelma Schoonmaker will introduce Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1942), newly restored by the Academy Film Archive in association with the BFI, ITV Studios Global Entertainment Ltd., and The Film Foundation.

On a related preservation note, after working on Metropolis, Germany’s digital film restorers at Alpha Omega brought the strikingly tinted version of Ernst Lubitsch’s 1922 The Loves of Pharaoh to Hollywood (watch here). It’s hard to think of a better place for the U.S. premiere than the American Cinematheque at Grauman’s Egyptian, which opened two years earlier as the first premier picture palace in Tinseltown. For more Hollywood history, check out our November issue’s article by Gaelyn Whitley Keith.

E-mail news items for Andreas Fuchs to kevin.lally@filmjournal.com.