ACE launches the fifth edition of A Season of Classic Films

Investing in Restoration and Distribution of Films from European Archives

ACE - Association des Cinémathèques Européennes unveiled on 20 May details of this year’s edition of A Season of Classic Films, during the 77th Festival de Cannes. Building on the success of previous years, A Season of Classic Films returns for a fifth edition with free screenings of newly restored films in cinemas and online, to continue to raise awareness about the work of the European film archives and advocate for the significance of film preservation and cinema culture, especially to younger generations. During the first five editions, the programme has supported the restoration and circulation of more than 170 European films.

The restored films of each edition are presented in a catalogue that includes context and contact information to enable further distribution beyond the end of this programme.


Full programme and awards of the Joint Film Restoration Grant announced at Cannes

This year’s programme is curated by 24 European film heritage institutions. The films range from early silent classics, to sci-fi and noir films, and to works that foster reflection about humanity, slavery and domination, authoritarian regimes, and memory. The film institutions organise free-admission cinema screenings to present their respective restored films between June and December 2024. These special events feature talks by filmmakers or archivists, masterclasses, live music, educational activities, or parallel exhibitions. Selected films are also globally accessible online at no charge. All films are available with English subtitles.

In addition to the newly restored films presented by each European archive, a Joint Restoration Grant is awarded as part of A Season of Classic Films to support transnational collaboration between film institutions for film preservation and restoration, for at least three European film archives collaborate on a single restoration.

At the Cannes event, ACE also presented the two recipients of this year’s Joint Restoration Grant of €60.000 shared between Vulo Radev’s humanist film The Peach Thief (1964) and a compilation of spectacular stencil-coloured shorts titled Fantastic Flowers (1906-1920). The jury, comprised of Oscar-awarded filmmaker István Szabó, ARTE’s Feature Film Department Deputy Head Barbara Häbe, and film curator-educator Eva Sangiorgi, selected the winners from applications submitted by Europe’s film heritage institutions.

The Peach Thief is a piece of film history with a powerful humanist message of understanding and brotherhood. In this sense, the central love story is an image of a broader meaning that can be embraced in our time. For us, as members of the jury, it was a discovery and we were touched by the grace and intensity of its language,” the jury writes of its choice. The Peach Thief will be meticulously restored in 4K thanks to the partnership between the Jugoslovenska Kinoteka, the Bulgarian National Film Archive, and the Montenegrin Cinematheque.

The second grant award goes to the restoration of lavishly stenciled-coloured films on the theme of “flowers”, a collaborative effort between the Royal Film Archive of Belgium, Eye Filmmuseum, and Filmarchiv Austria. This restoration programme aims to recreate for today’s audiences the experience of cinemagoers of more than a century ago, but also to provide a historical context to the colourisation debate, which surged as a result of the new possibilities offered by present-day digital technologies, particularly the emergence of AI.

A Season of Classic Films is supported by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.

Discover the full programme here: https://ace-film.eu/wp-content/uploads/2024/04/A-Season-of-Classic-Films_Programme-catalogue-2024.pdf



Barbara Häbe is currently the Deputy Head of the Feature Film Department at ARTE. She joined the French TV channel La Sept in 1989, which later became a member company of the European culture TV channel ARTE, and since 1992, she works at ARTE’s head office in Strasbourg. Initially, in charge of coproductions and acquisitions of international short films, Barbara Häbe is now responsible for coordinating feature films and selecting and supporting cinema coproductions proposed by the ARTE Group in the domains of classical movies, young cinema, and international coproductions. She also collaborates with the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes for the ArteKino Classics programme.

Eva Sangiorgi is currently the artistic director of the Viennale, the Vienna International Film Festival. In 2021, she also became the coordinator of the Film Curating Studies Department at the Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola (EQZE) film school in San Sebastian, Spain.

István Szabó is a legendary filmmaker with an impressive body of work distinguished by its stylistic virtuosity and narrative complexity, often exploring the timeless theme of personal identity and politics. He is the first to bring Hungary the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, and his numerous distinctions include Jury Prize, Best Screenplay and FIPRESCI at Cannes, two Silver Bears at Berlinale, a Golden Leopard at Locarno, a BAFTA Film Award, Best Director at Mar del Plata, five Oscar and Palme d’Or nominations, and lifetime achievement awards.



The Association of European Cinematheques (Association des Cinémathèques Européennes – ACE) is an affiliation of 50 European national and regional film archives. Its role is to safeguard the European film heritage and make the rich audiovisual records collected and preserved by the various film archives accessible to the public. ACE members are non-profit institutions committed to the FIAF Code of Ethics.


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For more information, please contact Paulina Reizi, Coordinator of A Season of Classic Films paulina.reizi@ace-film.eu