Amitabh Bachchan, the Bollywood legend will be the recipient of the annual award presented by the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). The award was first started back in 2001. It was presented to Martin Scorsese for his film archival efforts.
Ever since then, the award has recognized personalities from outside the archival scene. They present it to the people who have worked to advocate the cause of film preservation. The award has been presented to Ingmar Bergman (2007), Rithy Panh (2009), Agnès Varda (2013), Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (2016), Christopher Nolan (2017), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2018), Jean-Luc Godard (2019), and Walter Salles (2020).
It will be presented to Amitabh in a virtual ceremony on March 19 by none other than Martin and Christopher. The actor was nominated by the FIAF-affiliate Film Heritage Foundation. It is an Indian film archival organization founded by filmmaker and archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.
FIAF President, Frédéric Maire said in a statement that FIAF has been very active in India and South Asia. He thanked its close collaboration with Film Heritage Foundation since 2015.
The President continued, “By presenting our prestigious FIAF Award to Amitabh Bachchan, we want to show the world how rich and diverse, but also how fragile, this unique film heritage is, and we want to publicly thank Bachchan for his role as a high-profile advocate for the rescue of this heritage, in India and beyond.”
“Amitabh Bachchan’s advocacy for preserving India’s film legacy has been exceptional”
Dungarpur has pointed out that India’s track record in film preservation is dismal. It revealed that by 1950, Indian had lost almost 70% of its films and of the 1,338 silent films made in India. Some of 29 survived and many have only pieces of it left. He said that Amitabh has constructively exercised his influence in order to expand the cause on a war footing. And also that the actor was the unanimous choice of the 172 FIAF-affiliated archives for the award.
“Amitabh Bachchan’s advocacy for preserving India’s film legacy has been exceptional,” said Martin. Meanwhile, Christopher shared that being the past recipient of the FIAF award, he knows how crucial it is that representatives of the film industry around the world come together. He said they come together to ensure that we preserve our film heritage.
The Malcolm & Marie actor congratulated Amitabh as he said, “he has played a fundamental role; in putting the cause of film preservation on the map in India and the subcontinent”. Amitabh had delivered a passionate speech at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Kolkata Film Festival. He said that most of the filmmaking legends in India have “gone up in flames” or they have been discarded on the scrap heap.
“Very little of this great film heritage survives; and if we do not take urgent steps to save what remains; in another hundred years there will be no memory of these films and nothing left to celebrate,” the actor had said.