Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate"
Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate"

In celebration of the Venice Film Festival's 80th anniversary, the fest will screen a program of restored classic films, titled "Venezia Classici." Included in the cinephile-dream lineup is Orson Welles' seldom-seen "Chimes at Midnight," Ingmar Bergman's "Fanny and Alexander," Howard Hawks' "Gentlemen Prefer Blondes," Roberto Rosselini's "Stromboli" and the restored version of Michael Cimino's "Heaven's Gate," which Cimino will accompany (the epic failure, as described in Steven Bach's must-read "Final Cut," brought down United Artists).

The program's mission statement shows an admirable embrace of both the preservation of invaluable film heritage and the new digital age:

Although relatively recent, the promotion of access to and appreciation of  the vast heritage represented by classic films is now a phenomenon of international significance. Until the end of the last century, the conservation and restoration of vintage films were for the most part entrusted to cinematheques and the film archives of the major film institutions. With the growing awareness that film heritage is a cultural asset deserving the same attention given to other forms of artistic expression, and with the proliferation of distribution platforms restoring market value to films that seemed to have outlived their economic usefulness, an increasing number of organizations are now devoting considerable energy and resources to the restoration of classic films: production companies, home video distributors, copyright holders, public and private art and cultural institutions, film museums, film libraries and national archives.

The main result of this new trend, facilitated by the advent of the digital age, is to give contemporary audiences the opportunity to view again or see for the first time (in the case of young people who have very little knowledge of the past) films of great historical importance, and to revaluate films that have been unjustly forgotten or that are no longer visible, projected on the big screen in the best possible conditions.

Full lineup below: