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October 17, 2005

Maitra Lecture to feature 50th anniversary screening of classic film honored at Cannes Festival

By Scott Rappaport

Sharmila Tagore, one of India’s most famous film stars, and Indian art historian Partha Mitter will be the featured speakers at the fifth annual Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture on Sunday, October 23, at 4 p.m. in the UCSC Music Center Recital Hall.

Cannes Festival stage
Frank Pierson, president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, left, UCSC's Dilip Basu, and actress Sharmila Tagore onstage at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.
Photo courtesy of Dilip Basu

The event will also feature the 50th anniversary screening of a restored print of Indian film director Satyajit Ray’s trailblazing first film, Pather Panchali, which kicked off the “Classics” series at the 2005 Cannes Film Festival.

The series focused this year on the preservation mission of the Film Foundation established in New York by Martin Scorsese with Woody Allen, Francis Ford Coppola, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford, Steven Spielberg, Robert Altman, and Clint Eastwood. Ray’s Pather Panchali and Jean Renoir’s The River were the two films chosen to represent the mission of the foundation, which is to restore and preserve works “to assure the future of the cinema of the past.”

The restoration of Ray’s film was spearheaded by Dilip Basu, director of the Satyajit Ray Film and Study Collection (Ray FASC)—an archive on the UCSC campus that holds 31 of Ray’s 36 films and more than 7,000 journals, scrapbooks, posters, stills, books, records, and other memorabilia. The films are restored, and housed in climate-controlled vaults, at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles.

The Sidhartha Maitra Memorial Lecture--presented by Ray FASC--was established in 2001 by Anuradha Luther Maitra in honor of her husband, who was a scientist, entrepreneur, and admirer of the late Indian film director’s work. Ray FASC was founded in 1993 to acquire, preserve, and provide scholarly access to Ray’s films, papers, books, and artwork.

This year’s event will begin at 4 p.m. with a short documentary directed by Basu on Ray’s Apu Trilogy: Pather Panchali (1955), Aparajito (1956), and Apu Sansar (1959)—which traces the life of a Bengali family and their son Apu, and which made Satyajit Ray India’s first internationally recognized director. Historian Partha Mitter will then speak on “The Poetic Reality of Satyajit Ray,” followed by actress Sharmila Tagore, who will give a personal perspective about her experiences working with Ray. The restored print of Pather Panchali will be screened at 5 p.m. Admission is free and open the public.

Basu noted that the UCSC event will culminate a yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ray’s first film.

“We opened our anniversary celebration last December by taking author Salman Rushdie to Calcutta, where we had an exhibition of Ray’s film art and a lecture by Rushdie,” said Basu. “Then in May, we were invited by the Cannes Film Festival to be an official part of this year’s program and launch their ‘Classics’ series.”

Frank Pierson, two-time Oscar-winning director and president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, accompanied Basu to the Cannes Festival, along with actress Tagore, whose film career began with Ray at the age of 14. She acted in five of Ray's films and has gone on to star in more than 150 movies in the Indian film industry known as Bollywood.

“The restored print of Pather Panchali screened this past year in such places as London, Germany, Rome, New Delhi, Bangladesh, and Korea,” Basu added. “We are now concluding our yearlong celebration by showing it on campus at UCSC as part of this year’s Sidhartha Maitra annual lecture and screening.”

For more information, call (831) 459-4012 or visit satyajitray.ucsc.edu.

                                                          

 

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