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  • Carrie Specht

Film History & Preservationist Kevin Brownlow Receiving 2nd Annual Robert Osborne Award at TCMFF


Turner Classic Movies (TCM) has announced that the second annual Robert Osborne Award is to be bestowed upon the world's premiere film preservationists, Kevin Brownlow. The first (and only so far) person ever to be awarded an Honorary Oscar for Film Preservation. How suiting it is that TCM shall honor this man for the important work that he does. Without, and others like, we would not have many of the old films that need preserving. I am filled with admiration for Brownlow, and TCM for honoring the contribution he has made to classic cinema. Brownlow will be presented the award on April 13 2019 before a screening of his own film, It Happened Here. The first Robert Osborne Award was given out at the 2018 TCM Classic Film Festival to iconic filmmaker Martin Scorsese. The ceremony was the first of what is to be an event, that will continue to be presented annually at the TCM Festival.

If you love classic films you really need to know who Brownlow is. He has helped keep the cultural heritage of classic film alive for future generations. Deeply respected and revered among his peers for his work in restoration of classic film, Brownlow is also a celebrated director, helming classics such the previously mentioned film, It Happened Here (1964) and Winstanley (1975). However, Brownlow’s focus has remains on documenting and preserving the silent film era. An era that has been estimated to have lost 50% of all the films produced during that time. This statistic is mostly due to the lack of proper preservation.

Decades ago, Brownlow founded Photoplay Productions in order to produce documentaries on film and revive such silent classics as the Greta Garbo, John Gilbert drama, A Woman of Affairs from 1928, the 1927 Sunrise (the one and only film to receive the Oscar for Best Picture, Unique and Artistic Production), and the Abel Gance written and produced, Napoleon from 1927. The latter represented more than 25 years of work for Brownlow, who is still looking for ways to improve on Napoleon’s restoration. The 1980 premiere of the restored version brought Brownlow honors from the New York Film Critics Circle, the National Board of Review, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association and the London Critics Circle. All of this work led to the 2010 honorary Oscar for his work as a film preservationist

“In a career spanning more than seven decades, Kevin has played an instrumental role in documenting the history of silent film and preserving and restoring more than 50 silent films,” said Ben Mankiewicz, TCM Primetime Anchor and Official Host of the TCM Classic Film Festival. “Kevin is truly the embodiment of what the Robert Osborne award signifies, helping ensure that classic film will continue to be experienced as it was meant to be seen for years to come.” Well said indeed. Charles Tabesh, senior vice president of programming, TCM continued the praise, saying “Kevin Brownlow has been a friend to TCM since the network was founded, and his work to preserve classic film history for future generations is a cornerstone of what TCM and the Robert Osborne award represent. We have shown Kevin’s documentaries and restorations on air many times before, but to be able to honor him at the TCM Classic Film Festival feels like the perfect way to honor a man who has worked tirelessly to ensure the legacy of classic film lives on.” For more than 22 years, Robert Osborne served as the primetime host and anchor of TCM, helping millions of viewers discover and enter the world of classic movies. He dedicating his life to preserving and sharing the movies he loved. Embraced by fans around the globe as both a fellow movie lover and an unparalleled film historian, his legacy of devotion to classic films and their ability to inspire will live on through the Robert Osborne Award. And I can't think of a more deserving recipient than Kevin Brownlow. Bravo, TCM. Bravo. For a complete bio and more information on Kevin Brownlow, please visit: filmfestival.tcm.com.

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