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Launching the 70mm Film Festival

September 2010

By John Yemen, Lost Dominion Screening Collective

The first annual Lost Dominion 70mm Film Festival will launch at the Canadian Museum of Civilization’s 500-      seat theatre, just across the hall from the IMAX theatre. It’s dates coincide with Canada’s Culture Days,                     September 24 – 26.

The theatre is a little-used venue, which is a shame because the facilities are excellent. It also has the last                 remaining screen in the region capable of showing 70mm film prints with six-track magnetic sound, so we             thought we would take advantage of the chance to bring back the big-film experience to Ottawa and Gatineau.

The festival’s lineup includes Hollywood films as well five Canadian short films from the late 1960s and early          1970s, including Christopher Chapman’s A Place To Stand, which was the featured attraction of the Ontario            pavilion at Expo 67 and won the Oscar for Best Live Action Short Subject.

The victory was largely based on its innovative editing technique. Chapman was perhaps the first director to use     multiple frames of moving images on-screen. The technique has been reused in countless music videos as well         as in film and television.

The whole festival is something of a rare opportunity. Seventy-mm film festivals are popular in Europe and the United States, but for some reason, likely a lack of facilities, there has not been a true 70mm film festival in Canada in close to 20 years. These large-format films (also known as 65mm films for the amount of space devoted to the image frame on the film) were once the format of choice for distributing widescreen epics.

Filmmakers wishing to show off their products in the best possible format often made transfer prints of their regular 35mm films onto 70mm because resolution is four times greater and sound-quality was 50-percent better.

This is lending momentum to a mini-revival. Christopher Nolan directed this summer’s film Inception on 65mm film, and distributed it in IMAX wherever available to preserve the film’s superior image quality.

Leading the festival are restored 70mm prints of three Hollywood classics: David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia, Stanley Kubrick’s Spartacus, and Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo. We’re also showing more recent favourites like the transcendental documentary Baraka and Brian DePalma’s gangster drama The Untouchables.

For a full listing of our films and schedule is available here. Festival passes are $40, available at Invisible Cinema (319 Lisgar St.). Individual tickets are $10, available at the door.

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