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70mm Filmfestival During Oslo’s White Nights 2019

The 70mm Newsletter
Written and photographed by: Jan-Hein Bal, Amsterdam, Holland.Date: 24.07.2019
Norwegian 70mm filmmaker Morten Skallerud with Jan-Hein Bal in the Cinemateket

I never visited the Todd-AO Festival at the Schauburg Cinerama in Karlsruhe, but since my retirement from the Amsterdam EYE Filmmuseum, I have attended all other European 70mm film festivals once or more, in England (Bradford's Widescreen Weekend), Czech Republic (Kino Mir 70's 7OMM Seminar, Krnov and Varnsdorf) and recently Norway (Oslo 7OMM Festival). I was accompanied by Johan Wolthuis from International 70mm Publishers (Netherlands) with his small bookshop.

Oslo now already is my favourite festival, with great prints and in an exciting capital with much other summer activities. It is organized by the enthusiastic Jan Olsen, Technical Cinema Manager of the Norsk Filminstitutt’s Cinemateket (member of FIAF) in the Filmhuset, in the center of Oslo between station and harbour. It started in 2000 as annual festival, now every two years and this was the 13th time. During ten days in June a total of 15 different 70mm prints were screened once or twice in 24 sessions, with original productions and blow-up prints, vintage prints, restorations and recent productions, shorts and lectures.

Jan Olsen played his film music vinyl records and the festival opened with the short THE MIRACLE OF TODD-AO and the restored SOUTH PACIFIC from Hollywood, introduced by Jan Olsen in Norwegian and a lady from the USA Embassy in English. The restored LORD JIM was introduced in Norwegian by Per Haddal and Jacob Lothe, also on other Joseph Conrad adaptations. DERSU UZALA was introduced in English by me, mostly on the Soviet 70mm film industry, preceding my future publication on the Soviet 70mm history. I expected to leave during the Danish subtitled screening but the visual magic prevented this, even though the magnetic sound was damaged.
More in 70mm reading:

13th Oslo 70mm Festival

Amsterdam 70mm Cinema History

Full Introduction for "VOJNA I MIR"

Internet link:

Jan Olsen with Johan Wolthuis from the Netherlands in the Cinemateket

was preceded by the famous Norwegian stop-motion [nature animation, ed] short A YEAR ALONG THE ABANDONED ROAD by filmmaker Morten Skallerud who was present. However this short screening surprised me as the website and programme magazine are all Norwegian. Further screenings included SPARTACUS, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, HAMLET, THE HATEFUL EIGHT, and DUNKIRK. Blow-ups were LA BATAILLE DE SAN SEBASTIAN, STAYING ALIVE, 2010, WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?, THE ABYSS, and PHANTOM THREAD.

On weekdays there were two screenings after 18.00 and three in weekends after 13.00 as Norwegian law forbids cinema screenings during church hours. I attended only 9 screenings and never saw a faded print. They came from Jan Olsen’s private collection (who also organizes outdoor screenings from May during the long season of white nights, and is also founding a private film museum far from Oslo), the Norsk Filminstitutt, or abroad like "Dersu Uzula" from Denmark, and the SOUTH PACIFIC restoration from Hollywood. Jan Olsen experiments with filters and once hopes to screen faded prints with a more black-and-white look, it does not return color but maybe diminishes the magenta glow. He wants their prints screened only on DP70s before lending them to others.

The Cinemateket organizes many other festivals and retrospectives during the year but this 70mm festival is their most successful. Before the festival already 2.500 tickets were sold in advance. The audience had all ages and screenings were either sold out or crowded except STAYING ALIVE with minor attendance. Foreign guests came besides the Netherlands also from Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark and Sweden. Unlike other 70mm festivals in Europe this is in a capital, and it was even announced on regional television.
DP70 in the Cinemateket’s Tancred cinema projection room

There are two cinemas, the more modest Lillebil (without 70mm) and the larger and comfortable Tancred with 195 seats, a flat screen of 10,5 x 4,5 meter, with 70mm 5-channel front sound, many lenses including Ultra Panavision, and two DP70 projectors. The technical upgrade and rebuild of the DP70s was executed by Ronald Rosbeek Techniek from the Netherlands, including maintenance once a year.

The Cinemateket also has children’s animation workshop rooms, and a small permanent film history exhibition, “the only museum of its kind in Scandinavia (as of 2005), was built in 1999 by the Norwegian Film Institute.” according to the printed Guide to the Film Museum. However during a future renovation the exhibition will disappear, for more catering space of the now already pleasant cafe (with a Dutch manager), much-needed extra toilets (as it was difficult to return in time after intermissions), a larger projection room etc.

However the festival is in danger, as part of the staff may be fired during future government savings of this state-funded institute. If this includes one of the two 70mm projectionists than it might affect the festival.

Elsewhere in Oslo the former 70mm cinemas Klingenberg from 1938 and Colosseum from 1928 still function as digital cinemas and the impressive Colosseum even has brief projections on their huge dome before some screenings. Many famous people visited the cinema. Note the Charles Chaplin statue before the building and inside some photo’s from its history including a huge LAWRENCE OF ARABIA display. Their floor manager already had tickets for the 70mm screening of SPARTACUS in the Cinemateket. And there is more projection on the popular Bygdøy peninsula in famous museums with Viking ships and polar expedition ships, with impressive digital projections on its ceilings and the Fram museum screens a short on polar expedition history in their extra-widescreen cinema. This is a city and festival to return, maybe with another lecture on one of the some 175 further Soviet 70mm features.

With thanks to Jan Olsen
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Updated 06-05-22