Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Conversation with Martin Scorsese

In August 2009, Martin Scorsese wrote an open letter to Michael Govan after the Los Angeles County Museum of Art announced that it would be shutting its doors for its film program, after serving the community for 40 years, as a result of declining audiences and considerable losses. In his letter, Scorsese discusses the importance of seeing films in their original forms, and points to holds such museums as responsible. Scorsese also claims that it was at LACMA that he"first became aware of the issues of color film fading and the urgent need for film preservation."

Through his dedication, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association and Time Warner Cable, in partnership with Ovation TV, came together to provide $150,000 to keep the film program running. In addition, Time Warner Cable and Ovation TV have promised to spend more than $1.5 million to market the film program across local and national media platforms. Because of this, the film program will run until the end of June 2010, but the museum is still searching for additional donors and patrons for help.

In January 2010, LACMA announced that Martin Scorsese would join Michael Govan in an intimate conversation at the museum to speak about film preservation and its future. Their discussion was open to the public and sold out within minutes, and became a big buzz around town as locals began anticipating hearing the Academy Award-winning director speak, in person. Michael Govan began speaking to a room full of fans and movie lovers, who sat in anticipation of hearing Scorsese's name. Later, the audience sparked to life and welcomed him with a standing ovation, before the conversation between them began.

I'm not surprised that Scorsese brought up Raging Bull, and said that the brutal montage of Jake La Motta being beat in the ring was based on the shower sequence in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. I'm not surprised because that scene has been used as a guide for several filmmakers, because of its incredible shot selection. Scorsese also mentioned that Francesca , his young daughter, is working on a short film. He began laughing at the fact that a scene in the film requires for a handful of children to throw pies in the house, but commented that Thelma Schoonmaker can always help them edit the film. I guess it pays to be Scorsese's daughter, it comes with a handful of benefits.

In their discussion, Scorsese stressed the importance of film preservation. Through a series of clips, we were introduced to this dilemma. These film prints are in danger of being permanently damaged, because there is a lack of awareness in the protection and preservation of these motion pictures. There is also a lack of understanding of these films, and we are now facing a decline in an audience who appreciates them as well, which is why LACMA suspended their program to begin with.

The Film Foundation was founded in 1990 by Martin Scorsese, along with Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford, and Steven Spielberg. Since 2006, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Curtis Hanson, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, and Alexander Payne have joined the board of directors. The Film Foundation seeks to preserve these pieces of history, such as their newly restored The Red Shoes, which premiered at the Cannes International Film Festival.

Before Govan signed off, he turned to Scorsese and asked if he would come back to LACMA. Scorsese accepted the offer, and "promised" to do so. I remember when I first got interested in Scorsese, and began searching each of his interviews. I admired his passion when he spoke about film, because he was so absorbed in the world o f cinema. I was among the couple of hundred who saw this magic come to life, and become apart of his world for a matter of minutes. I have a painting in my room, which would help him understand how we felt that evening.