As one director recently found out, the New York Film Festival isn't just about new movies, it's also about the preservation and restoration of older films with cultural significance. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
In 1981, New York-based director Sara Driver made a film based on a short story by famed Beat Generation writer Paul Bowles. Called "You Are Not I," it tells the story of a woman who escapes from an asylum, and it played widely on the international film circuit.
Years later, a leak in a New Jersey warehouse destroyed the film's only negative, and Driver thought her hidden gem was lost forever.
"The people that worked on the film, I never confessed to them that it went missing," said Driver. "I've only told them recently, because I felt I couldn't even talk about it. It was so devastating."
One of those people was acclaimed filmmaker Jim Jarmusch, Driver's partner in New York City's post-punk downtown film scene.
"Jim shot the movie, and he co-wrote the screenplay with me. And it was a time in the early 80's when we made this film where we were all working on each other's movies. I was producing Jim's movies. I produced 'Permanent Vacation' and 'Stranger Than Paradise' for him. And then he did the camera for me on this film and on my first feature," Driver said.
Driver soldiered on with her career, resigned to the fact that "You Are Not I" was lost to history. But her story had an unexpected twist.
"I got a phone call in the summer of 2010 that they had found a copy of the film among Paul Bowles' things, the writer whose story I adapted. And they had a pristine print that had been sitting in Tangier for 30 years. We think it's the bug powder that saved the film," said Driver. "It was a heavy heart to know, to think that the film would never be seen again. So this is like a miracle really that it was found and that it's been revived."
Thanks to a grant from The Women's Film Preservation Fund of New York, "You Are Not I" has been newly restored and is screening at the 49th annual New York Film Festival.
For more information, visit www.filmlinc.com.