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Scorsese Starts Film Restoration Project

Martin Scorsese wants to save the world cinema.

The Academy Award-winning director said Tuesday it was a "dream come true" to launch his international project at the Cannes Film Festival, where his "Taxi Driver" won the top prize in 1976.

He's backed by an advisory board of prominent directors, including Mexico's Guillermo Del Toro ("Pan's Labyrinth") and Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu ("Babel"); China's Wong Kar-wai ("In the Mood For Love") and Britain's Stephen Frears ("The Queen.")

The idea stemmed from the work of The Film Foundation in the United States, which Scorsese founded in 1990 along with Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg. Though the U.S. foundation has saved many movies, 90 percent of American silent movies have been lost, as have half of all U.S. movies made before 1950, Scorsese said.

Photos: Martin Scorsese
"Things have changed, but it's almost impossible to catch up," Scorsese said. "So we thought over the past years it would be a wonderful thing to pull together the influence of directors around the world to work in their countries, to work on raising financing."

Scorsese said filmmakers have a "tenacity and obsession" for saving their favorite movies. The goal is to get restored pictures from around the world more exposure, whether on DVD, in cinemas or on the Internet.

"Preserving films is preserving cultural identity," said Brazil's Walter Salles ("The Motorcycle Diaries"), a board member. "We're talking here about preserving diversity and plurality, and the possibility to know one each other better."

Scorsese, fresh from best-picture and best-director wins at the Oscars for "The Departed," will have a busy week at Cannes. He's scheduled to give a master class on moviemaking to students and film buffs on Thursday. At Sunday's closing ceremony, Scorsese will present a prize for the festival's best film by a first-time director.

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