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The New Repertory Cinema: Film Restoration in the Digital Age

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We talk film restoration with Park Circus' Nick Varley, who will chair the Film Restoration in the Digital Age event this Friday

At the other side of the 3D film equation, there's another revolution taking place in the technology of cinema.

The digital age of cinema presents certain challenges and opportunities for cinema - opportunities, in particular, which have been snapped up by companies like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Sony Pictures Colourworks, and Scotland's own Park Circus, the leading international distributor of classic and repertory cinema. 

We spoke to Nick Varley, Managing Director at Park Circus, ahead of Thursday and Friday's restoration events.

To mark the 50th anniversary of David Lean's masterpiece, Lawrence of Arabia, Sony Pictures Entertainment will present a new digital restoration here at EIFF. The epic has been restored by Sony Pictures Colourworks and will be distributed by Park Circus. "They have been able to restore the film to the full resolution of the original camera negative," says Nick Varley.

Tonight we look forward to welcoming Grover Crisp, who worked on the restoration. Crisp will introduce the film tonight and talk about the technical work that's gone into this ultimate restoration.

"Audiences will see more than even the original audience of the film could have seen, which is the full clarity and definition in the picture that only the cinematographer and the director would have seen on the original negatives," says Varley. "Obviously there have been many restorations and reconstructions over the years but this is the one." 

Along with the chance to see this classic restored to glory, we are also offering an opportunity to hear more about how it is done. The film will be discussed at Film Restoration in the Digital Age: a panel event which will explain the process undertaken to restore classic films .

Panellists at the event include Grover Crisp, Senior Vice President of Film Restoration and Digital Mastering for Sony Pictures Entertainment and multi-Oscar®-winning editor, (and widow of the late Michael Powell) Thelma Schoonmaker. The panel will be chaired by Nick Varley. "What we're here to do is not to bamboozle people with technology, but to give people an understanding and appreciation of what goes into keeping these films alive," says Nick. "It's not a case of being something that's been sat on a shelf being pulled down and shown - a lot of work has to go into keeping these films alive, and we want to give people an idea of what happens, how that works, and what it means."

Film Restoration in the Digital Age takes place tomorrow, Friday 22 June, at 1.45pm in Filmhouse 1.

If you want to make a day of it, come along to the Film Festivals in the Digital Age - which takes place directly before the Film Restoration event. This is a free, ticketed event hosted by Dina Iordanova, editor of the new book Digital Disruptions: Cinema Moves On-line, along with other distinguished experts. This discussion will explore the future of film festivals and the new type of cosmopolitan cinephilia that is evolving in response to changing models of film circulation.

You can book tickets for all 3 events in person at the Filmhouse Box Office or by phone on 0131 623 8030. Tickets for Lawrence of Arabia and Film Restoration in the Digital Age are also available to book online. Click on the links above to take you to their respective booking pages.

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