India: Movie Megastar, Amitabh Bachchan, has been conferred with the 2021 FIAF Award by The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), the organisation of film archives and museums from across the world, at a virtual ceremony held on March 19.
The 78-year-old superstar posted a picture of him on Instagram after he received the accolade, and wrote: “I am deeply honoured to have been conferred with the 2021 FIAF Award.
“Thank you to FIAF and to Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan for bestowing the award on me in the ceremony today.”
“Our commitment to the cause of saving India’s film heritage is unshakeable and Film Heritage Foundation will continue its efforts to build a nationwide movement to save our films,” he concluded.
Iconic filmmakers Martin Scorsese and Christopher Nolan, who were previous recipients of the award, gave the award to Bachchan for his contribution to the preservation of and access to the world’s film heritage for the benefit of present and future generations
In 2018, at the opening ceremony of the Kolkata Film Festival, Bachchan had delivered an impassioned speech on film preservation, saying that most films of Indian filmmaking legends have “gone up in flames or 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 said at the time.
Bachchan was nominated by the FIAF-affiliate Film Heritage Foundation, an Indian film archival organisation founded by filmmaker and archivist, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur.
Dungarpur noted that India’s track record in film preservation is dismal.
By 1950, India had lost almost 70 per cent of its films, and of the 1,338 silent films made in India, some 29 survive, many only in fragments.
He expressed that Bachchan “constructively wielded his influence to amplify the cause on a war footing,” in South Asia and that he was the unanimous choice of the 172 FIAF-affiliated archives for the award.
Scorsese also commented on Bachchan and said: “Amitabh Bachchan’s advocacy for preserving India’s film legacy has been exceptional.”
Nolan, who is a staunch supporter of celluloid over digital, said: “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.”
On congratulating Bachchan for the award, Nolan said: “He has played an essential role in putting the cause of film preservation on the map in India and the subcontinent.”
The FIAF Award was introduced in 2001 when it was first presented to Scorsese for his film archival efforts.
It has since recognised personalities from outside the archival scene who have worked to advocate the cause of film preservation.
Other past recipients of the award are Ingmar Bergman (2003), Mike Leigh (2005), Hou Hsiao-hsien (2006), Peter Bogdanovich (2007), Rithy Panh (2009), Agnes Varda (2013), Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne (2016), Christopher Nolan (2017), Apichatpong Weerasethakul (2018), Jean-Luc Godard (2019), and Walter Salles (2020).