By Ray Pride

Scorsese Announces Film Foundation Partnership With FEPACI And UNESCO To Locate, Restore And Preserve Films Made In Africa




NEW YORK, NY (March 2, 2017) – The Film Foundation founder and chair, Martin Scorsese, announced today a partnership with the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) and UNESCO to launch a long-term project to help locate, restore and preserve films made on the African continent. The African Film Heritage Project (AFHP) will identify 50 films with historic, artistic and cultural significance, and will then undertake the process of restoration.

“There are so many films in need of restoration from all over the world. We created the World Cinema Project to ensure that the most vulnerable titles don’t disappear forever,” says Scorsese. “Over the past 10 years the WCP has helped to restore films from Egypt, India, Cuba, the Philippines, Brazil, Armenia, Turkey, Senegal, and many other countries. Along the way, we’ve come to understand the urgent need to locate and preserve African films title by title in order to ensure that new generations of filmgoers—African filmgoers in particular—can actually see these works and appreciate them. FEPACI is dedicated to the cause of African Cinema, UNESCO has led the way in the protection and preservation of culture, and I’m pleased to be working in partnership with both organizations on this important and very special initiative.” 

“Africa needs her own images, her own gaze testifying on her behalf, without the distorting prism of others, of the foreign gaze saddled by prejudice and schemes. We must bear witness to this cradle of humanity which has developed a rich and immense human, historical, cultural and spiritual patrimony,” states Cheick Oumar Sissoko, FEPACI Secretary General. “From the beginning, African filmmakers have strived to celebrate this patrimony through the wonderful art of the cinema. Preserving this filmic heritage is both a necessity and an emergency. These images must be located, restored and shown to Africans and to the world in movie theaters and state-of-the-art cinémathèques. We pledge to work toward achieving this goal with our partners from The Film Foundation and UNESCO who have long dealt with heritage issues.”

“UNESCO is proud to work with The Film Foundation, under the leadership of Martin Scorsese, and the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), for the restoration of 50 African films with resonating historic, cultural and artistic significance,” states Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General. “This partnership represents a unique opportunity to highlight the wealth of African artistic heritage and creativity, especially for young women and men. With the African Film Heritage Project (AFHP), we look forward to promoting cultural diversity through the expression of African filmmakers, and to facilitate access to African classics – in Africa and beyond – while fostering African creativity. This project resonates at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate for peace and echoes with the objectives of the Coalition of Artists to promote the General History of Africa.”

Through the partnership, The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, in association with its partner and FIAF member archive Cineteca di Bologna, and UNESCO will support the investigation, location and restoration of an initial selection of 50 films as identified by FEPACI’s advisory board made up of archivists, scholars and filmmakers active across the African Continent. An exhaustive survey to locate the best existing film elements for each title will be conducted in African cinémathèques and film archives around the world.

A press conference will be held on Thursday, March 2 at 3pm at the Salle des Conferences, Ouaga 2000 during the 2017 Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) with representatives from The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, FEPACI, and UNESCO in attendance to further announce details of the project and partnership. 

About The Film Foundation:

The Film Foundation is a nonprofit organization established by Martin Scorsese in 1990 dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history. By working in partnership with archives and studios, the foundation has helped to restore over 750 films, which are made accessible to the public through programming at festivals, museums, and educational institutions around the world. The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project focuses on regions where resources and funding for preservation are scarce. Since 2007, 28 films from 20 different countries representing the rich diversity of world cinema have been restored and shared with a global audience. The WCP also provides training for students and archivists in underserved areas through its sponsorship of Restoration Film Schools. The foundation’s free educational curriculum, The Story of Movies, teaches young people – over 10 million to date – about film language and history.  For more information visit:

About UNESCO General History of Africa/the Coalition of Artists:
In 1964, UNESCO launched the General History of Africa (GHA) in response to the calls by newly independent African States. The GHA project has produced and promoted a history of Africa from the perspective of Africans themselves, stripped of racist stereotypes created to justify the slave trade, slavery and colonial domination. The GHA was therefore intended to provide scientific insight into the true history of the African peoples and their contributions to the general progress of humanity.  The drafting process, which spanned almost 35 years, resulted in the publication, in eight volumes, of a monumental work with main editions in English, French and Arabic (also translated into ten other languages).

Guided by a scientific committee with 39 members, the project, which brought about a major epistemological revolution by incorporating African oral traditions and literary and artistic sources into a scholarly history, mobilized some 350 specialists from various disciplines (history, linguistics, anthropology, musicology, archaeology, history of art, natural sciences, etc.). 

In 2009, in response to repeated calls from Member States of the African Union, UNESCO initiated the launch of a second phase of the GHA project. This new phase consists of developing pedagogical content based on the GHA for primary- and secondary-schools, but it also includes the drafting of a ninth volume of the GHA with the view to updating the already published volumes and covering the recent history of the continent and its diasporas. 

In October 2015, UNESCO established a network of African and non-African artists (musicians, film-makers, playwrights, actors, painters, photographers, etc.), called “the International Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa”, in order to raise awareness among young Africans and the general public regarding the importance of a better understanding of the continent’s history and cultures. 

About The Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI):

The Pan African Federation of Film Makers (FEPACI) is the foremost organization dedicated to African cinema. It is composed of national filmmakers’ associations and of individual filmmakers from the continent and the diaspora. Launched in Tunisia in 1970 by such pioneers as Ousmane Sembène, Tahar Cheriaa and Paulin Soumanou Vieyra, FEPACI aims to create viable film production, distribution, circulation, and preservation infrastructure for a self-sustaining continental film industry in order to address the paucity of African images on big and small screens throughout the continent, which are flooded with images from the North. 

 Over the years, FEPACI has successfully lobbied African states, regional and continental as well as international organizations to achieve these goals. FEPACI was instrumental in the creation of the Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO), the African Cinémathèque of Ouagadougou (CAO), and, more recently, the African Audiovisual and Cinema Commission (AACC) within the African Union. FEPACI is currently working on creating regional Centers of Excellence across the continent in order to further professionalize the industry. FEPACI is an observer-member of the African Union.

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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas