First things first. What is Rare Giants and why did you set it up?
Rare Giants is a not-for-profit organisation that aims to draw attention to the restoration and preservation of art through film screenings and events. We set it up because we feel that there are works that might not be easily accessible to our community that should be. There are incredible restorations that remain at film festivals or don’t make it outside of London and we want to give people in Sheffield and the North the opportunity to enjoy them.
We’re a volunteer committee made up of people with film events and industry experience and a passion for film and arts restoration. We’re working with organisations, venues and experts in the field to not only offer the chance to show incredible works of art at their best possible quality but to also facilitate the opportunity for people to explore and discuss the themes around them.
Why do you think it’s important to preserve and protect art for future generations?
All art is an important reflection of our journey as a species and as a reflection of the time and conditions under which it was created. Cinema is perhaps one of the most adept of the arts at capturing this, but also unfortunately one of the most fragile in its early conception. Countless films are now either lost or in danger of being lost but thankfully these issues can be addressed with restoration work and archiving. We’re really passionate about the often painstaking and dedicated effort this takes, which motivates us to share it.
We feel it’s important to give people the chance to discover art and allow them to react to it and for it to inspire them, whichever way that happens to be. It’s also important to allow works of art to continue to be explored. The conversation around significant works may change over time, which allows certain films to be re-evaluated or ‘rediscovered’ outside of their original lifespan.
Are there any themes that you’re particularly excited about exploring with Rare Giants?
Restoration itself is surprisingly exciting! There are so many stories that we’re excited to explore; from films being buried to be saved from Nazi occupation to lifelong detective work and chance discoveries, the journeys of some films we now know and love are almost miraculous.
We’re excited to be able to show and share work in its most beautiful condition. The themes we explore will be led by the works themselves – but there are definitely themes that we’re eager to explore and it’s certainly an interesting time to do so. We aren’t solely interested in showing “the classics” and we’re very excited by the prospect that restoration allows the exploration of cinema from countries, artists and groups that have been overlooked, as well as individual works that may reflect themes of contemporary significance.
Will there be the opportunity for audience debate and discussion at your screenings?
That’s something that we’re really hoping to encourage but it’s optional. We’ll certainly be working to provide extra materials and speakers at our screenings and will provide spaces for discussions after for people to discuss the film and socialise. That isn’t to say you can’t simply come to a screening and leave after. We want everyone to feel comfortable in the environment in which we run the events and experience the work in their own way.
What do we have to look forward to at your first event?
Our first event is a free 50th anniversary screening of In Cold Blood in a stunning new 4K restoration in association with Sheffield Hallam University’s SHU Fest. Firstly, the restoration looks and sounds spectacular; the cinematography and score from legendary cinematographer Conrad Hall and composer Quincy Jones respectively are worth coming out for alone. Add to that some raw performances, a masterclass in film editing and powerful, authentic direction and it’s a real must-see.
The film itself followed quickly on the heels of the sensational Truman Capote novel it’s based on and the two together are incredibly significant works that have had a long-lasting influence, seen still with the new cycle of ‘True Crime’. The director Richard Brooks was an extremely humanist storyteller and the film is a fascinating conversation starter on capital punishment and the justice system, as well as the nature of our collective fascination with the details of such abhorrent acts. In Cold Blood was selected for preservation by the American National Film Registry in 2008 and has been championed by the likes of Roger Ebert and the Criterion Collection but it doesn’t even really have a decent home release in the UK yet, so we’re excited to give people the opportunity to see it in its full glory – and for free!
Interview by Felicity Jackson