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Scorsese goes digital with film preservation

Foundation pacts with B-Side, Auteurs

Martin Scorsese has expanded the World Cinema Foundation’s campaign to preserve and restore films by forming two key alliances that allow the WCF to take the plunge into digital distribution.

Scorsese, who is the WCF founder and chairman, has inked partnerships with B-Side Entertainment and online cinematheque the Auteurs to promote and distribute a slate of WCF titles that begins with four restored films.

The WCF also appointed New York Film Society associate director of programming Kent Jones as its new executive director. At a Cannes press conference Friday, Scorsese detailed the need to continue the restoration of classics like “The Red Shoes,” which screened here Thursday night, and emphasized that the alliance will make a push to ensure that audiences actually see the films. The Auteurs will help in that regard by offering restored films online, initially to be downloaded for a fee; eventually free streaming video will be offered. Revenue raised from the site will flow to content owners, and the rest will be used by the WCF to fund more restorations.

For its part, B-Side, an ancillary distribution marketing specialist, will work to roll out the films in universities and film clubs and arrange DVD and VOD distribution through platforms such as Netflix and iTunes.

“We can make a difference if we make these films available,” said Scorsese.

Efe Cakarel, who founded the Auteurs, revealed that the campaign will begin with four WCF restored titles — “Touki Bouki,” by Djibril Diop Mambety; “Hanyo,” from Ki-young Kim; “Susuz Yaz,” by Metin Erksan and David E. Durston; and “Trances,” from Ahmed El Maanouni — which are available worldwide for free streaming.

For more information on the films, go to Theauteurs.com/wcf.

— John Hopewell and Michael Fleming contributed to this report

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