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Restoration project Fantastic Flowers selected for Joint Restoration Fund

The restoration project Fantastic Flowers – a collaboration between Eye Filmmuseum, Cinematek Brussels and Filmarchiv Austria – has been selected for the Joint Restoration Grant from Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE). The project, consisting of a compilation of beautiful stencil-coloured silent shorts, will receive €20,000.

By Eye Editors23 May 2024

Still: La culture du dahlia

The international jury, comprised of Oscar-awarded filmmaker István Szabó, ARTE’s Feature Film Department Deputy Head Barbara Häbe, and film curator-educator Eva Sangiorgi, selected the winner, together with Vulo Radev’s humanist film The Peach Thief (1964) (€40,000) from applications submitted by Europe’s film heritage institutions.

Fantastic Flowers
is a compilation of short silent films produced between 1906 and 1920, displaying a profusion of colours that were applied to each frame using the Pathécolor process or similar stencilling techniques. Current digital restoration technologies allow processing each colour individually within the frame to reproduce the vibrancy of the coloured original nitrate film. These remarkably coloured films not only showcase the aesthetics of early cinema but they can also provide a historical context to the colourisation debate, which surged due to contemporary technologies and the emergence of AI.

From flower industry to colourful parades

The films of this compilation were curated on the theme of ‘flowers’, ranging from their cultivation to their various uses in floral parcs, urban landscaping, and in flower parades. Colourful flowers are also essential elements of the very popular trick films of early cinema, exemplified in films where actresses dressed as flowers appear and disappear from the screen. Certain films within the compilation provide an insight into the working conditions in the flower industry, while others portray daily lives of people from around the world who enjoy the pretty flowers in their surroundings.

still: Les fleurs dans les jardins

The ambition of this programme is to recreate the spectacular colourful images that cinemagoers experienced more than a century ago and bring them to today’s audiences.

Dutch film in A Season of Classic Films

Related to the Joint Restoration Grant is ACE's A Season of Classic Films, a programme of free screenings – online and in cinemas across Europe – of recently restored films. The film Kracht (1990) by director Froukje Fokkema and producer Matthijs van Heijningen was nominated by Eye Filmmuseum. A total of twenty-four films will be offered this year.