Digitalization of Czech classics faces delay
by Viktor Palák
- The plan to digitally restore up to 200 films will most likely be delayed as the general project returns for updates requested by Norwegian Grants' administrators
After the digitally restored version of Marketa Lazarová screened at the Karlovy Vary IFF in 2010 (followed by Fireman's Ball this year), the discussion regarding digitally restoring selected Czech (Czechoslovak) classics has gained momentum. Moreover, the National Film Archive applied to Norwegian Grants to get financial support for a project whose end should see up to two hundred films digitalized. The requested boost of €1 million should help restore the first 15 titles.
While the initial plan aimed towards March 2013 as the starting point of the financing (scheduled to finish in 2016), it is now likely to be delayed. The project has to be unanimously ratified by the donor countries, which has not yet happened. According to the Czech ministry of finance, which is overseeing the general project (digitalization being only a part of it), the proposal is likely to be ratified late December or early January. However, the project may still fall behind, as the necessary manuals may not be delivered in time.
Among the works selected for digitalization are both films that are regarded as key to Czechoslovak cinema as well as less important ones that are nevertheless being demanded by local television channels. Approximately 15 films will be restored in addition to the first two titles mentioned above. In both cases, the films were reconstructed by Prague's UPP post-production studio.
National Film Archive Director Michal Bregant believes that up to five films can be restored per year. It took three months to restore Marketa Lazarová, while Miloš Forman's film took six weeks.
The Norwegian Grants are currently believed to be the only possible means for the project as the Czech budget has no resources, according to Bregant.