A Preservation Film Festival comes to Sag Harbor

Howard Hawkes 1953 film "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes" will be among the offerings screened at "The Sag Harbor Cinema Festival of Preservation."

Sag Harbor Cinema hosts the East End’s first preservation film festival from November 19-22. “The Sag Harbor Cinema Festival of Preservation” is presented by director Martin Scorsese and funded in part by Suffolk County through the Suffolk County Film Commission.

The festival will emphasize the importance of preserving film and its culture, as well as create an opportunity for the community to connect with a group of experts in the field. The program will feature a varied selection of restored films spanning several eras, including “The Red Shoes” (a Scorsese favorite) and the black and white “Night Of the Living Dead” directed by George Romero. In addition to screenings, there will be live presentations of historical footage and panel discussions on the culture and process of film preservation, with representatives from organizations such as MoMA, The Film Foundation, Cineric Labs, Film Forum and The Criterion Collection. Joe Lauro, of the East End’s own Historic Films Archive will show rare footage from his collection.

“I believe in the power of film not only to entertain, but to bring unsung heroes to life, and to change the world around us,” Scorsese said in a statement. “For as long as I can remember, the Sag Harbor Cinema has stood as a beacon of culture on Long Island.”

“Cultivating the culture and the experience of film is an essential part of SHC’s DNA,” said the cinema’s artistic director, Giulia D’Agnolo Vallan. “It seemed only natural that we would want to create an opportunity for our audience to connect more intimately with the world of film preservation, through an annual program that combines great films with the insight provided by the people that make it possible for film history — and the movies we love — to remain alive, available and relevant to our present.”

The program:


Dir. Emilio Fernández

Mexico, 1946; 99 mins, in Spanish with English subtitles

A scene from “Enamorada.”

This wildly passionate and visually beautiful love story from director Emilio Fernández and cinematographer Gabriel Figueroa, a follow-up to their extraordinarily successful María Candelaria, remains one of the most popular Mexican films ever made. The romance between between a revolutionary General (Pedro Armendáriz) and the daughter of a nobleman (Maria Félix) set during the Mexican revolution (in which Fernández himself fought) was inspired by “The Taming of the Shrew” and, for the finale, by the end of Sternberg’s “Morocco.”

Restored by UCLA Film & Television Archive and The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project in collaboration with Fundacion Televisa AC and Filmoteca de la UNAM. Restoration funded by the Material World Foundation.

“Forbidden Paradise”

Dir. Ernst Lubitsch

USA, 1924; 73 mins

“Forbidden Paradise,” 1924. Directed by Ernst Lubitsch. Shown from left: Rod La Rocque and Pola Negri.

As they fill major gaps in appreciation of Ernst Lubitsch’s silent-era career in Hollywood, the Museum of Modern Art’s painstaking restoration, supported by The Film Foundation, of “Forbidden Paradise” (1924), Lubitsch’s only American film with Pola Negri, offers its most complete version in nearly 100 years. A delightfully ahistorical costume melodrama about the erotic seductions and lonely deprivations of Empress Catherine the Great, “Forbidden Paradise” reveals itself to be what MoMA curator Dave Kehr calls “the first fully achieved film of Lubitsch’s mature period,” graced as it is with the comic touches and sophisticated rhythmic compositions for which Lubitsch would become legendary.

Preserved by The Museum of Modern Art with funding provided by The Film Foundation and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

“Gentlemen Prefer Blondes”

Dir. Howard Hawks

USA, 1953; 91 mins, in English

Howard Hawkes 1953 film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” will be among the offerings screened at “The Sag Harbor Cinema Festival of Preservation.”

Bachelorette showgirl singers Dorothy Shaw and Lorelei Lee are sailing to Paris, courtesy of Lorelei’s millionaire boyfriend, Gus Esmond, Jr. The best friends both have the ambition to secure an engagement ring, but hold different standards for potential suitors. With a manipulative detective hot on their trail, Jane Russell and Marilyn Monroe give dazzling performances as they dance, sing, and strut their way through Howard Hawks’ classic adaptation of the stage musical based on Anita Loos’s novel.

“Night of the Living Dead”

Dir. George Romero

USA, 1968; 96 mins, in English

A scene from George Romero’s 1968 film “Night of the Living Dead.”

A deceptively simple tale of a group of strangers trapped in a farmhouse who find themselves fending off a horde of flesh-eating ghouls newly arisen from their graves, Romero’s claustrophobic vision of a late ‘60s America (literally) tearing itself apart rewrote the rules of the horror genre, combined gruesome gore with acute social commentary, and quietly broke ground by casting a Black actor (Duane Jones) in the lead role. After decades of poor-quality prints and video transfers, “Night of the Living Dead” can finally be seen for the immaculately crafted film that it is thanks to a new 4K restoration, scanned from the original camera negative and supervised by Romero himself.

Restored by The Museum of Modern Art and The Film Foundation with funding provided by the Hobson/Lucas Family Foundation and the Celeste Bartos Preservation Fund.

“One-Eyed Jacks”

Dir. Marlon Brando

USA, 1961; 141 mins, in English

Marlon Brando directed and starred in the 1961 film “One-Eyed Jacks.”

The only film directed by Marlon Brando is a western like no other, combining the mythological scope of that most American of genres with the searing naturalism of a performance by Brando, capturing a rugged coastal and desert landscapes in gorgeous widescreen; Technicolor images; and eliciting from his fellow actors (including Karl Malden and Pina Pellicer) nuanced depictions of conflicted characters. Based on an adaptation of Charles Neider’s novel (inspired by the life of Billy the Kid), the film is the last that Paramount shot in VistaVision. Though the production was overwhelmed by its director’s perfectionism and plagued by setbacks and studio reediting, “One-Eyed Jacks” stands as one of Brando’s great achievements, thanks above all to his tortured turn as Rio, a bank robber bent on revenge against his former partner in crime.

Restored by Universal Pictures in collaboration with The Film Foundation. Special thanks to Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg for their consultation on this restoration.

“Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song”

Dir. Melvin Van Peebles

USA, 1971; 97 mins, in English

A scene from Melvin Van Peebles’ second film, “Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song” from 1971.

In Melvin Van Peebles’ second film, which he made after rejecting offers from Columbia to retain creative rights, he fills the role of producer, director, writer, composer, editor, and star. “Sweet Sweetback” gave Hollywood the prototype that would eventually become the blaxploitation hero. Revolutionizing Black and American independent cinema, the film presents incendiary politics and a distinctive style, in which jagged jump cuts, kaleidoscopic superimpositions, and psychedelic sound design come together in a sustained howl of rage and defiance.

A Janus Films release. 4K digital restoration approved by filmmaker Mario Van Peebles.

“The Red Shoes”

Dirs. Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger

UK, 1948; 135 mins, in English

The 1948 British film “The Red Shoes,” directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, is a favorite of Martin Scorsese’s.

“I’ve said and written so much about this picture over the years; for me it’s always been one of the very greatest ever made, and every time I go back to look at it — about once a year — it’s new: it reveals another side, another level, and it goes deeper. What is it that’s so special about ‘The Red Shoes’? Of course, it’s beautiful, one of the most beautiful Technicolor films ever made; it has such an extraordinary sense of magic — look again at the scene where Moira Shearer is walking up the steps to Anton Walbrook’s villa, especially in the new restoration: it seems like she’s floating on currents of sparkling light and air. And there’s no other picture that dramatizes and visualizes the overwhelming obsession of art, the way it can take over your life. But on a deeper level, in the movement and energy of the filmmaking itself, is a deep and abiding love of art, a belief in art as a genuinely transcendent state.” – Martin Scorsese (courtesy of The Criterion Collection)

Restored by the UCLA Film & Television Archive in association with the BFI, The Film Foundation, ITV Global Entertainment Ltd., and Janus Films. Restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, The Film Foundation, and the Louis B. Mayer Foundation.

“The Village Detective: A Song Cycle”

Dir. Bill Morrison

USA, 2021; 81 mins, in English

A piece of found footage from Bill Morrison’s 2021 film “The Village Detective: A Song Cycle”.

During the summer of 2016, a fishing boat off the shores of Iceland made a most curious catch: four reels of 35mm film, seemingly of Soviet provenance. Unlike the film find explored in Bill Morrison’s Dawson City: Frozen Time, it turned out this discovery wasn’t a lost work of major importance, but an incomplete print of a popular comedy starring beloved Russian actor Mihail Žarov. Does that mean it has no value? Morrison thought not. To him, the heavily water-damaged print, and the way it surfaced, could be seen as a fitting reflection on the life of Žarov, who loved this role so much that he even co-directed a sequel to it. Morrison uses the story as a jumping off point for his latest meditation on cinema’s past, offering a journey into Soviet history and film accompanied by a gorgeous score by Pulitzer and Grammy-winning composer David Lang.


Dir. Kenji Mizoguchi

Japan, 1953; 97 mins, in Japanese with English subtitles

“Ugetsu” is a 1953 Japanese film by Kenji Mizoguchi .

“Mizoguchi is one of the greatest masters who ever worked in the medium of film; he’s right up there with Renoir and Murnau and Ford, and after the war he made three pictures—The Life of Oharu, Ugetsu, and Sansho the Bailiff—that stand at the summit of cinema. All of his artistry is channeled into the most extraordinary simplicity. You’re face-to-face with something mysterious, tragically inevitable, and then, in the end, peacefully removed. I love all three of these pictures and many other Mizoguchi films as well (including Princess Yang Kwei-fei, The Story of the Last Chrysanthemums, and Miss Oyu, to name only a few), but Ugetsu has the most powerful effect on me. There are moments in the picture, famous ones, that I’ve seen again and again and that always take my breath away: the boat slowly materializing from out of the mist and coming toward us . . . Genjuro collapsing on the grass in ecstasy and being smothered by Lady Wakasa . . . the final crane up from the son making an offering at his mother’s grave to the fields beyond. Just to think of these moments now fills me with awe and wonder.” – Martin Scorsese (Courtesy of the Criterion Collection)

Restored by The Film Foundation and KADOKAWA Corporation at Cineric Laboratories in New York. Special thanks to Masahiro Miyajima and Martin Scorsese for their consultation on this restoration. Restoration funding provided by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association in association with The Film Foundation and KADOKAWA Corporation.

The Fabulous Nicholas Brothers with Bruce Goldstein

From left: Fayard Nicholas and Harold Nicholas in Andrew L. Stone’s “Stormy Weather” (1943). Courtesy Photofest.

Fayard Nicholas (1914—2006) and Harold Nicholas (1921—2000) were two of the 20th century’s greatest dancers. These self-taught African American brothers were still kids when they headlined at Harlem’s famed Cotton Club, later conquering Broadway and Hollywood—and eventually achieving international stardom—in a career that spanned eight decades. But Hollywood limited their appearances to only one show stopping number in each of their movies (Astaire called their Stormy Weather routine the greatest dance number ever filmed) — they were never given lines to speak or a romantic interest, despite their success on Broadway as actors and comedians. A friend of the Brothers, Bruce Goldstein, Film Forum’s director of repertory programming since 1986 and founder of Rialto Pictures in 1998, was the writer and co-producer of an award-winning 1992 documentary on the team. In his acclaimed presentation on the dance team Goldstein utilizes rare personal and performance footage, recordings, and vintage photographs, along with his never-before-seen 1991 interviews with the brothers and other legends, including Cab Calloway, Max Roach, Bobby Short, Leonard Reed, and Gregory and Maurice Hines. This is as much about a tight-knit African American family, and the love between two brothers, as it is about two of the 20th century’s greatest artists. Special thanks to Rigmor Newman Nicholas.

From the Historic Films Archive with Joe Lauro

Horses on parade in Pathé News newsreel of East Hampton’s Fourth of July parade in 1915. Courtesy Historic Films.

Since 1991 Sag Harbor resident Joe Lauro’s Historic Films Archive has provided historical film footage and vintage musical performance footage to countless feature films, museum exhibits and television programs. This presentation will include excerpts from several recently preserved films and televisions programs which are housed at Historic Films – such as recently discovered footage of the 1915 East Hampton 4th of July Parade, noted photographer Amalie Rothschild “student films” shot at Bill Graham’s legendary Fillmore East and the now vanished Chicago Maxwell Street Market as vividly captured by Michael Shea in “And this Is Free.”

For further information, tickets and the full calendar of events go to sagharborcinema.org. A full program of films and participants will be announced next month. For more information, visit sagharborcinema.org. Sag Harbor Cinema is at 90 Main Street, Sag Harbor.