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Restored classic film comes home

After Venice, Manuel Conde’s ‘Genghis Khan’—believed to be long lost—premieres at SM Mall of Asia on Sept. 29
/ 08:25 PM September 26, 2012

SCENE from “Genghis”: (From left) Inday Jalandoni, Manuel Conde and Elvira Reyes. Photo courtesy of Martin Magsanoc

After a roundabout journey, “Genghis Khan” finds its way home.

The original prints of Manuel Conde’s “Genghis Khan,” the same ones used in its screening at the Venice Film Festival in 1952, will be returned to the Philippines. As bonus, the restored version of the film, in DCP (Digital Cinema Package) and HD (High Definition) format, will be sent here as well.

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Believed to be long lost, “Genghis” turned up at the Venice vaults recently.

“Genghis” was restored at the L’Immagine Ritrovata, a renowned laboratory based in Bologna, Italy. It was unveiled in Venice to a packed theater on Sept. 6 as part of a special retrospective of cinema classics.

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After the Venice screening, slight revisions were made for the Manila premiere.

A joint undertaking of the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP) and the Venice fest, the restoration and repatriation of “Genghis” will mark the official launching of the National Film Archive of the Philippines (NFAP).

Formal turnover of the “Genghis” prints and DCP is set at the SM Mall of Asia on Sept. 29. A screening will follow after the repatriation ceremony.

Stefano Francia di Celle, retrospective curator of the Venice fest, will attend the ceremony—along with Davide Pozzi, director of L’Immagine Ritrovata, and Luca Fornari, Italian ambassador.

Actor-director Jun Urbano, Conde’s son, has also been invited to represent the Conde family.

Art repatriation

Briccio Santos, FDCP chair, said it was vital to return “Genghis” to the Philippines.

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“It is an affirmation of our cinema’s tradition of excellence,” he pointed out. “Ours is among the oldest film cultures in Asia and we take pride in this historic fact.”

Venice’s repatriation of the “Genghis” prints will send a strong signal to the world cinema community and will hopefully inspire other foreign archives to turn over our old films, said Santos.

After “Genghis,” the FDCP will pursue its campaign for the return of National Artist Gerry de Leon’s “Dyesebel” and “Banga ni Zimadar” from the Thai film archives.

Santos also hopes to retrieve the Henry Francia collection from the Berkeley archive in California. Francia was a Filipino filmmaker who made films in New York in the 1960s, Santos recounted. One of Francia’s works is “On My Way to India Consciousness I Reached China.”

“We’ve already spoken to Francia’s relatives and they’ve given their consent,” said Santos.

Restoration projects

The FDCP has other restoration projects in the offing.

Two films by National Artist Ishmael Bernal, “Manila By Night” and “Tribute to Rita Gomez,” have been lined up for preservation, too.

“We got the Rita movie, which was Bernal’s only docu, from the UP film archives and the French institution CNC will work on it,” Santos said.

The CNC (National Center of Cinematography and the Moving Image, as translated in English) will also take charge of “Survivor,” a docu on the Philippine Republic’s first President, Emilio Aguinaldo, made by another National Artist, Lamberto Avellana.

Quin Baterna and Leonardo Q. Belen’s “Ginauhaw Ako, Ginagutom Ako,” the first Ilonggo film made in 1975, is at the CNC as well.

Another restoration project involves National Artist Lino Brocka’s “Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag.”

“We will use the master negatives at the British Film Institute. We will initiate this project with Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation,” Santos said.

(E-mail: bayanisandiegojr@gmail.com)

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TAGS: “Genghis Khan, ” Manuel Conde, Elvira Reyes, FDCP, Film Development Council of the Philippines, SM Mall of Asia, Venice Film Festival
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