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French center restores Iran's Qajar era films

Source: Tehran Times

France's National Center of Cinematography (NCC) has recently completed the restoration of a collection of Qajar era films of Tehran's Golestan Palace Museum.

A still of a Qajar era film kept at Tehran's Golestan Palace Museum shows a number of Iranian army officers.

The collection, which is composed of 30 films, was sent to the center three years ago and it has been returned now, Golestan Palace Museum director Masud Sharifi said during a press conference on Sunday.

"These films are important in mapping the direction of the history of Iranian cinema," he added.

Qajar kings' European tours have been covered in some of the films. The collection also includes the two-minute film "Faust and Mephistopheles", directed by French pioneer filmmaker Alice Guy-Blache in 1903.

The film had been purchased by Qajar king Mozaffar ad-Din Shah (1853-1907) during his sojourn in France, archaeologist and UNESCO counselor in Iran Shahriar Adl said in an interview in July 2011.

Footage of Qajar king who first brought Cinema to Iran in 1900 after his trip to Paris

According a Western newspaper clipping in 1900 that is kept at the palace, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah had previously seen a Faust opera, but it did not please him, he added.

A few years later, Mozaffar ad-Din Shah acquired "Faust and Mephistopheles". This shows that the shah was interested in the story of Faust, Adl noted.

The collection will be unveiled during a ceremony, which is scheduled to be held in a month, Sharifi said.

Anther collection of Qajar films was discovered in 2011 in one of the storerooms at Golestan, a Qajar era monument located in downtown Tehran.

Sharifi said that this collection also needs some restoration work.

However, the museum has avoided sending this collection to the NCC due to the current situation Iran faces, he added.

"We preferred to wait until the first collection was returned then the newly discovered collection will be sent based on a new agreement that will be signed between Golestan and the NCC. Thus, the NCC currently does not hold any of Iran's films," he noted.

An agency of the French Ministry of Culture, the NCC is responsible for the production and promotion of cinematic and audiovisual arts in France.

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