The 2015 European Cinerama Festival Tour in Oslo
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The 70mm Newsletter
|Written and photographed by: Anders M Olsson, Lund, Sweden||Date: 20.05.2015|
|David Strohmaier posing with posters for two of his restorations.|
I arrived at the Oslo Gardermoen airport on Tuesday afternoon and soon found my way to the Airport Express Train. The train is very convenient, and you don't even have to obtain a ticket. Simply swipe your credit card at the gates and select your destination on the touch screen. The receipt will be sent by e-mail.
After 20 minutes you're at the Oslo Central Station from where it's a five minute walk to Filmens Hus, the Norwegian Film Institute's offices, cinemas and museum. In many ways it reminds me of the National Media Museum in Bradford, but on a slightly smaller scale. Perhaps you can call it "Bradfjord"?
After checking in to my hotel, I went to Filmens Hus to pick up my tickets for the films and the fjord cruise. With so many tickets, the cashier asked me if I was moving in!
The Cinerama screenings didn't start until the next day, and since I had nothing else planned, I decided to see two other films on the program.
First there was a real Norwegian classic from 1972, "Norske byggeklosser" which literally translates to "Norwegian Building Blocks". It's a comedy about the horrors of having a house built when you're caught between bureaucracy, a dishonest entrepreneur, lazy workers and a clueless wife. The much loved Norwegian comedy actor, the late Rolv Wesenlund, stars in no less than eight different roles (which, in my opinion is a bit much, even for Wesenlund).
The film had been shot on super 16mm, blown up to 35mm and looked a bit grainy, but with very nice colors. That was the only sample of real celluloid film that I had the opportunity to see during my stay in Oslo. Everything else was digital.
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Jan E. Olsen's TV appearance on Norwegian TV.
Jan E. Olsen speaks about Cinemateket and "Windjammer". That story starts at about 9 minutes into the program. I don't know if it will work in all countries:
Here's an approximate translation of the Norwegian dialogue:
Knut-Martin Løken (the anchorman):
- When TV made people stay at home in the 1950's, something spectacular was needed to lure them back to the cinemas.
The special film format that was used can now be experienced at the Cinemateket. Cinerama had a huge and wide image, and the most successful film here in Norway was the major production "Windjammer", featuring the training ship Christian Radich.
The film ran for sold-out houses at the Colosseum for nine months, and tomorrow it will be possible to see it again.
|The projector on display at the entrance of the film museum is an AGA Baltic, a vintage machine of Swedish origin.|
Before the film, the other star and "straight man", Bjørn Sand, was interviewed on stage by film critic Per Haddal. Bjørn shared a wealth of anecdotes about his life as a variety revue writer, actor, director and more. He is supposedly (!?) the only Norwegian ever to give direction to John Cleese.
Later that evening, I saw "Inherent Vice" in a digital 2K version. That film might be of some interest to in70mm readers since it's been blown up to 70mm and shown that way at some locations. Not here though, and the film also lacked the Norwegian subtitles that were supposed to have been there. I'm not a big fan of P.T. Anderson, and I don't think the film lives up to its reputation.
Leaving the cinema close to midnight I came out in a frightful rain, so I hurried back to my hotel which is just around the corner. I still couldn't avoid getting soaking wet.
On the next day, the first day of Cinerama screenings, the cinema audience was greeted by a red carpet outside the building. Surely the Norwegian premiere of some never before seen Cinerama films deserves a red carpet! But wait... they were actually rolling up the red carpet, and a crowd of dressed-up and important-looking men and women left the building.
|Jan E. Olsen:|
- The unique thing about Saturday's performance is that there's a matinee here at half past one at the Cinemateket. But when leaving the cinema you'll find the star itself - the Christian Radich - waiting for us at the City Hall berth. And it will take us on a four hour fjord-trip.
So it's a unique possibility to see the star both on screen and to walk right onto the ship.
|Jan and Randy rolling out the red carpet for "Windjammer".|
What had taken place was the award ceremony for Åse Kleveland who had been awarded the very prestigious order of S:t Olaf by his Majesty the King of Norway. Åse is a well-known and much loved singer and actor who has a past as Norwegian Minister of Culture and as Director of the Swedish Film Institute.
Unlike most other film festivals, there were no daytime screenings on weekdays. Nothing really happened until the first film came on each day at 5:30pm, leaving the days open for your own excursions. So I usually took a walk on the town, had lunch, coffee or visited the museum at the Film Institute. The Bastion Hotel gave a very nice afternoon tea or coffee. At 3 o'clock they turned on the griddle in the dining room for hotel guests to make their own pancakes - all free of charge and included in the room price.
The trio of Dave Strohmaier, Randy Gitsch and Tom March had been in Europe for the Cinerama Tour since April 17, and this was their final stop before going home to the States and Canada respectively.
|Randy Gitsch and David Strohmaier.|
The Tancred Cinema was roughly half full for the first film, "This is Cinerama". The local organizer Jan E. Olsen gave a brief introduction in Norwegian and then handed over the microphone to Randy and Dave for some more introductions in English.
While the impact of "This is Cinerama" is still there, it was apparent that the raw material (a 70mm print) used for the restoration was not quite up to par compared to most of the other Cinerama films which have been restored from their original camera negatives. For comparison, after the feature film, the newly made short "In the Picture" was shown as an example of how great digital smileboxed Cinerama can look.
After the show, Tom March handed out envelopes with 3-strip samples from "In the Picture".
The second and last film of the day, "Cinerama Holiday", saw a smaller audience which was perhaps a pity, because it's in many ways a better film. Randy introduced the film and gave us some interesting facts about the Suvretta House and the skating comedy duo Frick and Frack whose routines feature in the film.
|Cinerama is THIS wide!|
The next two nights featured more Cinerama travelogs including "Cinerama's Russian Adventure" which is a compilation of clips from Russian Kinopanorama films. Each of the introductions followed the same formula: First some words in Norwegian by Jan E. Olsen followed by interesting facts about each film by Randy Gitsch. Finally some technical notes by restoration wizard Dave Strohmaier.
"Search for Paradise" may have a certain urgency these days with the recent earthquakes in Nepal in mind. Much of the buildings and surroundings seen in the film no longer exist.
I've seen these films many times, but only on deeply curved screens, and on my own smallish TV. Never before had I seen them on a large flat screen. When seated at least halfway back into the cinema, the smilebox process made the illusion of a curved screen complete. If I hadn't known better, I could have sworn that I was actually sitting in front of a curved screen.
|Tickets, tickets, tickets...|
Finally, on Saturday afternoon, it was time for the big event. Most of the previous films had never before been screened in Norway, so they were totally unknown here and attracted only small audiences. But "Windjammer" was different. The film is as well-known as the star of the film, the full-rigged sailing ship Christian Radich. Ticket sales had been strong from start, and the last few seats sold out quickly after a TV-appearance by Jan E. Olsen.
"Windjammer" was one of the first restorations by Dave Strohmaier and his team, and it was based on an archived 35mm scope print from the Swedish Film Institute. Dave is currently searching support for a new and improved restoration from the original camera negatives. The target is to have it ready in time for the film's 60th and the ship's 80th anniversary in 2017-2018.
After the film, the ship Christian Radich waited at the dock by the City Hall to take us on a four-hour cruise on the Oslofjord. Even though weather conditions could have been better, to actually get a chance to see the Christian Radich from the inside was something special, an event unique to this film festival. I can't imagine a more appropriate way to close the 2015 European Cinerama Festival Tour!
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