This year’s Retrospective at the New York Film Festival will celebrate “50 Years of Janus Films,” a collaboration among the NYFF, Janus Films and Criterion. From Italian neo-realism and the French New Wave to Japanese samurai epics and films filled with existential inquiries, the festival will showcase more than 30 world cinema classics, all of them screening in pristine new prints at the Walter Reade Theater.

“Anybody who saw these movies years ago was used to seeing them in spliced and scratched 16mm prints,” says Film Society of Lincoln Center Associate Director of Programming and retrospective curator Kent Jones. “That’s just the way things were. Now, the standards have changed and we are proud to be able to show [the films] in new prints on the big screen. It’s going to look spectacular.”

The retrospective will take place from September 30 to October 27, opening with Jean Renoir’s 1939 masterful portrait of the French bourgeoisie The Rules of the Game. Other screenings will include Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast (1946), Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954), Federico Fellini’s La Strada (1954), Ingmar Bergman’s The Seventh Seal (1957), Michelangelo Antonioni’s Eclipse (1962), Roman Polanski’s Knife in the Water (1962) and François Truffaut’s The 400 Blows (1959), among others.

Janus Films was once synonymous with bringing the best foreign feature films to American theaters, but the prevalence of DVDs and home theater systems has in many ways diminished the art house circuit on which Janus based its reputation. “50 Years of Janus Films” hopes to reintroduce audiences to the distributor’s canon of films in the manner in which they were always meant to be experienced, in pristine 35mm.

The New York Film Festival celebrates its 44th anniversary in 2006. The 17-day noncompetitive festival, which runs from September 29 through October 15, takes place at Alice Tully Hall and the Walter Reade Theater at Lincoln Center.

This article was published in the Summer 2006 issue of Filmmaker Magazine.