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Amitabh Bachchan becomes first Indian to be presented with FIAF award; Christopher Nolan and Martin Scorsese to bestow the award

Indian film luminary Amitabh Bachchan will be conferred with the prestigious 2021 FIAF Award by the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), the worldwide organization of film archives and museums from across the world, at a virtual showcase scheduled to take place on March 19, 2021.  Mr. Bachchan’s name was nominated by the FIAF affiliate Film Heritage Foundation, a not-for-profit organization founded by filmmaker and archivist Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, dedicated to the preservation, restoration, documentation, exhibition, and study of India’s film heritage.

Amitabh Bachchan becomes first Indian to be presented with FIAF award; Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan to bestow the award

In a landmark moment for Indian cinema, icons of world cinema and film directors Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan, who also share a long-standing relationship with India through their affiliation with Film Heritage Foundation, will bestow the award on Mr. Bachchan for his dedication and contribution to the preservation of, and access to, the world’s film heritage for the benefit of present and future generations, at a virtual presentation.

 The highly regarded National Award-winning film superstar will be the very first Indian to receive this esteemed global award. Previous recipients include legends of world cinema such as Martin Scorsese (2001), Manoel de Oliveira (2002), Ingmar Bergman (2003), Geraldine Chaplin (2004), Mike Leigh (2005), Hou Hsiao-hsien (2006), Peter Bogdanovich (2007), Nelson Pereira dos Santos (2008), Rithy Panh (2009), Liv Ullmann (2010), Kyoko Kagawa (2011), Agnès Varda (2013), Jan Švankmajer (2014), Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi (2015), Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (2016), Christopher Nolan (2017), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2018), Jean-Luc Godard (2019), and Walter Salles (2020).

The FIAF Award was introduced in 2001, when it was presented to Martin Scorsese. Since then, the award has branched out to include personalities from outside the archival world who have worked to advocate the cause of film preservation. The award recognizes the commitment and contribution of cinema virtuosi towards the preservation of the world’s film heritage and witnesses the congregation of members of the international film preservation community on a single platform to celebrate the honour. The annual recipient of the FIAF Award is chosen by the FIAF Executive Committee from a shortlist of nominations from staff members of all 172 FIAF-affiliated archives worldwide.

Acknowledging the global recognition, which also spotlights India on the world stage, Amitabh Bachchan states, I am greatly honoured to receive the FIAF Award for the year 2021 for a cause that I am deeply committed to. It was when I became the ambassador of Film Heritage Foundation in 2015, that I realized the extent of the neglect and colossal loss of our precious film heritage and how we continue to lose more of our legacy every day. Recognizing the urgency of the situation, I have been working closely with Film Heritage Foundation since its inception to do everything in our power to save our films and to build a movement for film preservation in our part of the world. We must strengthen the idea that film archiving is as essential as filmmaking, and I do hope that we are able to garner further support for this most essential cause from my colleagues in the film industry and the government, to enable us to realize our dream for building a centre that will preserve and showcase our magnificent film heritage.”

Martin Scorsese states, “Safeguarding cinema is a global cause with champions all over the world. Amitabh Bachchan’s advocacy for preserving India’s film legacy has been exceptional. With a career spanning over five decades, he is a celebrated actor who has put the considerable weight of his reputation behind the cause of film preservation in India and the entire subcontinent. I would like to thank Shivendra Singh Dungarpur and Film Heritage Foundation for nominating Amitabh Bachchan for the 2021 FIAF Award and the FIAF Executive Committee for unanimously backing this nomination. They could not have chosen a more deserving individual to recognize this year."

A member of the American National Film Preservation Board, renowned filmmaker Christopher Nolan, who has always promoted the consumption of celluloid films in an age of digital formats states, As a past recipient of the FIAF Award, I know how imperative it is that representatives of the film industry around the world come together to ensure that we preserve our film heritage. I want to congratulate Amitabh Bachchan on receiving the 2021 honour. As the ambassador for Film Heritage Foundation, he has played an essential role in putting the cause of film preservation on the map in India and the subcontinent.

As the ambassador for Film Heritage Foundation and an active advocate of film preservation since 2015, Mr. Bachchan has invested an impressive amount of personal interest in furthering the cause and amplifying the need to protect India’s film legacy. He is one of the very first artists to have appreciated the importance of film preservation and put it into practice. From storing celluloid prints of his own productions and the ones he acted in immaculately in an air-conditioned vault at his residence over the years to frequently appealing to the government and film fraternity to come forward to contribute in saving India’s film legacy, he has also contributed funds to the cause in his personal capacity over the years. 

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