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The Curtain Rises on 7OMM
Festival Report 16th KRRR! 28 - 30 April 2023

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Thomas Hauerslev. Pictures by: Thomas Hauerslev, and 2nd unit Paul Rayton & Orla NielsenDate: 02.05.2023
Updated 08-05-2023
Projection crew: (L to R) Michal Jaso, Martin Bodešínský, Petra Pokorná, Ivan Školuda, Radim Václavík posing for a group picture.

The 16th KRRR! 70mm festival in the Czech town of Krnov (Population 23.000) was held at the last weekend of April 2023. Following here is a summary of the events with a few personal observations.

KRRR! began in 2007 and has grown in popularity since. This year was no exception with more than 180 delegates. Mostly Czech guests but also more than 30 guests from Canada, USA, Germany, England, Slovak Republic and Denmark came together to enjoy the wonder of 70mm on the big screen. For three days classic trade names like Ultra Panavision 70, Todd-AO, Franscope, CinemaScope, Cinema 180 once again graced the curved screen to the enjoyment of an enthusiastic audience.

• Go to gallery: KRRR! 16th 70mm Film Seminar Krnov 2023
• Go to 16th 70mm Film Seminar, KRRR!

The program was impressive: Friday began with a French thriller “La Seconde Verité”, in Franscope and with Russian dialogue. It had been blown up to 70mm for the Ukraine market in 1966. Next was “Mutiny on the Bounty” in “Window of the World” Ultra Panavision 70, and for the official opening, “Airport” in a brand new “New Sight, New Sound, New Screen” Todd-AO 70mm print from Universal. Saturday began with “Camelot” 9:30 in the morning, followed by “The Longest Day”, photographed in CinemaScope, and blown up to 70mm in 1969. Saturday ended with chapter 3 in the Godfather film series. Sunday morning and the final day started with 8x OSCAR winner “Amadeus” in 70mm, followed by a “vintage” print of “Blade Runner” with special effects done in 65mm. The day came to an end with a 25th anniversary screening of “Titanic”, photographed in Super 35, and presented in 70mm.
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“… and there are simply too many notes. Just cut a few and it'll be perfect.”

A diverse program and mix of different formats, and all presented in 70mm. “Bounty” was masked off in the 2,76:1 aspect ratio. The screen did not get wider for this format, only a bit more “letterboxed” with the top masking coming down. Only few cinemas can do justice to this format today. By an odd coincidence, “Bounty” was shown on the exact same date of the real mutiny in 1789. The original English language release print – faded of course – was beautiful to see. Very sharp across the entire frame, and only little damage. Which is amazing, considering it is 60 years old. Definitely a highlight of the weekend.

Another highlight for me was re-visiting “Amadeus” in 70mm. I personally ran a 35mm print for 17 months when it came out in 1984, and still remember a lot of the dialogue by heart “… and there are simply too many notes. Just cut a few and it'll be perfect.” – priceless! The film is quite simply a masterpiece in every aspect of filmmaking, and it was very moving to see it again. This rare opportunity gave me tears in my eyes as the film came to the end. The entire audience sat through the end titles in total silence, and gave it a huge applause when the curtain closed. They don’t make movies like this any longer, that is for sure.
Projecting "The Longest Day" in 70mm.

Among many pleasant things about watching old 70mm films, is listening to the audio. The dialogue is exceptionally well mixed. You can easily hear every spoken word. Unlike today, were dialogue is often “drowned” by effects and music. Christopher Nolan’s films are a good example where it is often so ridiculously loud that dialogue becomes impossible to understand. At KRRR! we were blessed with classical trained actors who were all able to speak beautifully – even Professor Henry Higgins would have been pleased.

Saturday and Sunday also gave room to “alternative content” in the form of lectures and a selection of odd-reels in 70mm. I gave a presentation about non-conventional 70mm formats, like Pik-A-Movie, Cinerama 360, IMAX Magic Carpet, Showscan etc. The presentation was concluded by a Cinema 180 / Cine 2000 70mm short film “Colossus”. Following my presentation I gave out authentic Todd-AO Distortion Corrected ["rectified" they call them] 70mm frames from "Oklahoma!". It was quite popular to get one of those, as many lined up to get one or two. The clips were nearly 70 years old, and in the final stages of life. Film history ending in a smell of vinegar.
Rare 70mm clips are examined

Projectionist Ivan Školuda gave a highly interesting presentation about all the work done behind the scenes preparing KRRR! As an example, it was impossible to show “Camelot”, unless several missing reels could be found with collectors in EU and North America, and shipped to Krnov. A short part of the film was even shown as a DCP (from a BluRay). To match the fading of the most part of them film, the digital section was purposely faded too. The entire English 6-channel soundtrack was also synched up with a digital track prepared for this show.

“Amadeus” was another case with an exceptionally worn out 70mm print that required special attention to make the presentation work. The Krnov 70mm print is one of two original 70mm prints donated by Director Miloš Forman to the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic in 1984/85. Both 70mm prints have survived, but have serious damage from extensive runs. That was a challenge, however. Like “Camelot”, the entire stereo soundtrack was also played from a digital source – carefully matched up with the print – including advancing the digital sound track seamlessly where frames, and splices had made the film shorter. In both cases the sound matched perfectly throughout. Ivan also explained how they replaced the German dubbed 70mm soundtrack on “Blade Runner” with an English digital soundtrack. Ivan’s lecture concluded with a short tribute to Pavel Tomešek, founder of KRRR! 70mm Seminar.
The horrible decomposition on "Solomon and Sheba".

Sunday afternoon it was time to re-watch some odd reels of 70mm: “Juggernaut” R1, a clip from “Oliver!", the chariot race from “Ben-Hur” in MGM Camera 65, once again in 2,76:1 aspect ratio, and finally an example of what happens when a film “goes vinegar” and gradually decomposes, ultimately going totally useless. Demonstrated with a clip from “Solomon and Sheba” in the final stages of film life. It was once called “horizon-spanning” Super Technirama 70, but this reel spans no more. It will shortly cease to exist. Projectionist Michael Jaso explained how towards the end of the reel, several layers of film were virtually glued together, which made the emulsion stick to the other side of the filmstrip. A very abstract film effect on the screen.

The festival begins Friday afternoon, and ends Sunday evening, with films from 9:30 in the morning until 22 in the evening. Those are long days, and only the most hard core 70mm fans see everything. Official opening is Friday evening with speeches and a group photo on stage for those who want to join. Always a big success with almost the entire audience in front of the curtains. All are encouraged to do the KRRR! “70” hand sign as illustrated in the promotional material. In the foyer a wide variety of KRRR! Merchandise is for sale. Glasses, mugs, hats, socks, t-shirts, pens – you name it. A2 sized posters are also given away. Posters displays and program can be seen all over town too.
KRRR! guests in the Kino Mir 70 foyer

The A5 sized festival program brochure is handed out when you get your accreditation (festival badge and ticket) when you arrive. Eye-catching layout, and quotes from films are on display like “I have seen things you people wouldn’t believe” [a classic line from "Blade Runner"] in striking letters. The Krnov ad department is very good at this. The only shortcoming of the printed program is the lack of some text in English. It would be lovely to have English summaries of each title, and a great service to the guests from abroad.

This year a special photo booklet was also released with the group pictures from each year. The booklet was dedicated to the memory of Pavel Tomešek, who passed away in mid-2022.

In the foyer the friendly staff manages ticket sales, the wardrobe and sweet shop all at very affordable prices. Food, beers and sweets are available all through the weekend. This year even with the much sought after credit card payment option.

Upstairs in the projecting department, a team of very dedicated projectionists and technicians are busy from early in the morning preparing films, reels, subtitles, sound, lights, introductions, microphones, and what have you. Always buzzing around with something to do. They all display an unprecedented level of enthusiasm to make the shows run. This is the basic nature of “projectionism” – the very molecules of how to do it. Their skills reach far beyond merely showing films. Attendees can arrange to visit in projection to see the film, and machines running – and getting a sniff of magnetic sound if you desire.
Two sets of digital subtitles

Digitally subtitling all the films is a huge effort – some films even have two sets of languages at the bottom of the screen. It is really well done by the projection department.

70mm prints which have reached “end of life”, and are virtually unplayable, suddenly come back to life at the Kino Mir 70. Replacing entire damaged 6-track soundtracks might seem easy on paper, but is an enormous task that begins by counting all frames on the print, followed by a search for a suitable soundtrack, usually from 35mm mag sound, DVD/BluRay or even YouTube. Then follows a complicated rebuild and re-mix it into “mag sound EQ”, and then synchronizing everything. It is an extraordinary effort for a “one-off” show, and they have several of those during the weekend.

“Would it not be easier to run a nice new DCP?” – yes, but that will not work for a 70mm weekend. A weekend in Krnov’s Kino Mir 70 is a “close encounter” with faded films, and films in full color. Spectacular main titles, overtures, curtains and so on. Each film is introduced in Czech and translated into English “on the fly”, so you can listen through a headset. It works, provided the headset has fully charged batteries.

Personally I think an introduction should be no longer than it takes to boil an egg. Max 10 minutes (and possibly shorter) with a few anecdotes about the making of the film. Naturally in Czech language, and with a summary in English rather than the headset solution.

Some intros have a tendency to be very long as the introducer(s) sometimes seems to get carried away. The intro to “Amadeus” was 20 minutes, and was basically a “waterfall” of non-interrupted talk. It was easy to see it was too long, as the audience began looking at their phones. And finally, a note to remember, a famous film producer once told me, “Introducing a film indicates that something is wrong with the film.”
Ivan Školuda running "Titanic"

One final little observation is about the curtains. The projectionists are very dedicated “not to show the screen” and bring the curtains in/out very eagerly. I’d propose to introduce a more gentle procedure, and wait a little bit [Presentation Procedure:
"2OO1: A Space Odyssey" + "West Side Story"]. Make sure the curtains are out before the first image hit the screen. Let the audience see logos, and the entire main title sequence, Intermission title card, and all end titles. Those are part of the show for the seasoned 70mm enthusiast. I understand in Hollywood film makers often insist seeing EVERTHING on the screen. No main or end titles should be cut or shown on the curtains etc.

The Kino Mir 70 has a new manager taking up duties following Pavels’s passing in 2022. Eva Budirská comes from a background in the art gallery world, but has moved to Krnov. Since 1. January 2023 she started working in the cinema exhibition industry. Employed by the city, she has some “big shoes” to fill following Pavel’s legacy. I am sure she will put her own ideas to good use at the Mir.

Getting to Krnov is a bit of a challenge for us foreigners. Some drive their own car, and some go by train like myself. In my case it’s a flight to Vienna, and then by train to Krnov, via Ostrava-Svinov. It’s a long day of travel but fairly manageable. There are not many hotels in Krnov, so booking well in advance is advisable. A weekend in the company of Richard Harris, Vanessa Redgrave, Dean Martin, Marlon Brando, Jacqueline Bisset, Elizabeth Berridge, Helen Hayes, Tom Hulce, Diane Keaton, John Wayne, Sean Young, Harrison Ford, Gina Lollobrigida, F. Murray Abraham and many more is great, and I highly recommend you think about a trip to Krnov in 2024.

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KRRR! 2023
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Updated 08-05-2023