About the Ray Film and Study Center
The University of California, Santa Cruz paid tribute to Satyajit Ray on May 5, 1991, three days after the legendary artist’s 70th birthday. The day long event comprised a symposium of Ray scholarship, an exhibition of photographs and illustrations, and a screening of Ray’s Aranyer Din Ratri held in downtown Santa Cruz. On that day, Vice Chancellor Michael Tanner and Professor Dilip Basu announced the establishment of a Satyajit Ray Archive on campus.
In 1986, Chancellor Robert Sinsheimer offered Satyajit Ray a Regent’s Lectureship on behalf of UC Santa Cruz. The Lectureship was established to bring distinguished men and women from typically non-academic fields to enrich university life through interactions with faculty and students. Acclaimed filmmaker Akira Kurosawa enthusiastically agreed to join Ray at UC Santa Cruz during the Lectureship. Unfortunately, Ray had to decline the offer due to health concerns.
Another Regent’s Lectureship was offered to him in the winter of 1991, but Ray’s failing health made him unable to accept. However, in February of 1992, an ailing Satyajit Ray expressed in writing his full endorsement for the establishment of a Ray Archive and endowment at UC Santa Cruz, which, he wrote, “will encourage appreciation and understanding of my cinema, literary and other works.”
In October 1992, The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences awarded Dilip Basu a seed grant to conduct an assessment of all known work by Satyajit Ray. Basu and David Shepard, Director of Film Preservation Associates and a member of the Academy completed the assessment and a report in early 1993. Shepard found the original negatives of eighteen amongst Ray's early films in critical condition. In July 1993, six Ray film classics — including the Apu Trilogy, Music Room, Two Daughters, and Devi — burned in a mysterious fire in a London film laboratory. This has prompted Steve Vineberg, the noted film critic and scholar, to say: "Talk about a vanishing legacy! Imagine if you learned that almost all the classical labels had dropped their Mozart recordings, or that Dostoevsky was no longer available in English translations, or that a private collector had snatched up all the Vermeers in the world... Even these are not fair analogies, because in each case the world would recognize the enormous cultural loss."
Since October 1993, Ray FASC has taken small steps to help correct this cultural loss. It has helped establish The Society for the Preservation of Satyajit Ray Films (The Ray Society) in India with Mrs. Bijoya Ray as the Patron and Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, M.P., as President. Initial funding came from The Rajiv Gandhi Foundation, The Ford Foundation, and UNESCO. The Merchant Ivory Foundation and The Academy Foundation took over the project of restoring nine Ray films, and releasing them through Sony Pictures Classics in North America. Ray FASC/Ray Society have organized the restoration of three additional films at the Academy Foundation Archives. Alongside the films, Ray papers — notebooks, sketchbooks, musical scores, stills, designs, and illustrations — are being collected and converted into optical and digital storage formats. Some twenty-eight original negatives, some in critical condition, still remain unattended. Ray FASC has received a comprehensive collection of published works in major world languages on Ray and by Ray from Mr. and Mrs. Lethbridge of Melbourne, Australia. Altogether a thousand items of printed works, stills, sketches, posters, brochures, journals and newspaper articles are in the Archives. Most have been cataloged.
Ray FASC now enjoys an international reputation as the most comprehensive archive on the works of Satyajit Ray. Its collection of thirty-two of Ray's thirty-seven films in 35mm is in demand among Europe and America's prominent film institutes, cinematheques, museums, classic film theaters, and universities. During the past three years, Ray FASC has helped curate and organize partial or complete Ray retrospectives at the following institutions: National Gallery of Art and The Smithsonian in Washington, DC; L.A. County Museum of Art; Pacific Film Archive in Berkeley, CA; Cleveland Museum; The British Film Institute's National Film Theatre in London; Berlin Kinematek; Toronto Cinematheque; University of Colorado; University of Chicago; The Stanford Theatre in Palo Alto; Helsinki Film Archive; and most recently, a screening of Ray's first color film, Kanchenjungha, in a program called "Cinéma métis" at the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
Enrichment events and special programs involving visits of actors, directors, scholars and writers have often accompanied the Ray festivals.
Our first priority is to establish a permanent Satyajit Ray Endowment at the University of California.
Ray FASC is seeking funds for the following on-going projects as well:
All contributions are tax deductible and will be publicly acknowledged. Please send your contribution payable to:
Mr. Shyam Benegal
Mr. Somnath Chatterjee, M.P.
Professor Nicholas Dirks
Professor Keya Ganguly
Mr. Michael Pogorzelski
Mr. Martin Scorsese
Professor Amartya Sen
Ms. Sharmila Tagore
Associate Professor Anjali Arondekar (Literature)
Professor Kathy Foley (Theatre Arts)
Professor Gurikbal Sahota (Literature)
Research Professor Richard Terdiman (Research Professor Literature)
Ray Film and Study Collection has diligently worked during the past decade to establish a world class Archives and Study Center on Satyajit Ray (Ray FASC), and an innovative, culturally focused on South Asia.
Ray FASC had a moderate role in the international effort that led to the Lifetime Achievement Special Oscar awarded to Satyajit Ray in 1992. We were instrumental in taking the Oscar to Ray in his hospital room in Calcutta and recording his acceptance speech. This was broadcast on March 30, 1992. It was at the banquet after the Academy Awards ceremony that the late Mr. Daniel Taradash, a past President of the Academy, asked us to help restore Ray films. With an initial grant from the Academy, that we organized the Ray FASC at UCSC.
With the cooperation of the two organizations, Ray FASC coordinates the restoration and preservation of Ray's films. The work is done at the Academy of Motion Pictures Archives in Los Angeles. To date, out of Ray's 37-film oeuvre, 13 have been fully restored. Most of the original negatives, including the ones of the Apu Trilogy, were in tatters. If these had not been properly restored, future generations would not have the privilege of seeing the classic Ray films. The Academy has recently announced that it will pay for the restoration costs of the rest of the Ray films. Restored film elements are preserved at the Academy's vault (a vault in Calcutta is yet to be built); the original negatives, upon restoration, are returned to the producers in India at no cost to them.
Ray FASC has curated several Ray retrospectives in Europe and America/Canada during the past year and a half. In Washington DC, it was at the Smithsonian and the National Gallery of Art (inaugurated by Martin Scorsese), in L.A., it was at the LA County Museum of Art (inaugurated by Sharmila Tagore), in London at the British Film Institute (inaugurated by Pandit Ravi Shankar), in Toronto at the Cinematheque - Ontario (inaugurated by Norman Jewison).
In academic year (2003-2004), complete retrospectives took place at the following sites: Stanford Theatre, Palo Alto; Berlin International Film Festival, Berlin; Harvard Film Archives and Massachusetts Film Archives.
Ray FASC has 31 out of Ray's 36 films in 35 mm, and a collection of 7,000 items on Ray and by Ray which is now on the web (http://satyajitray.ucsc.edu/collection/). Ray FASC has received grants from the Ford Foundation, The Academy, Packard Humanities Institute and a host of individual donors. It has an endowed annual lecture named after the late Dr. Sidhartha Maitra, one of Ray FASC's initial supporters. Dr. Amartya Sen and Vikram Seth gave lectures in the past two years. In the year (2003), author Pico Iyer gave the lecture in October. In 2011 Dr. Karan Singh visited UCSC and gave the Satyajit Ray Lecture.
The Ray Society in Calcutta, with grants from the Ford Foundation and the India Arts Foundation, is digitizing Ray's artwork and the entire collection of the Ray family archives going back to three generations. The children's magazine SANDESH, started by Ray's father Sukumar Ray, and continued by Satyajit & Sandip Ray, also received a Ford grant.
Ray FASC attracted the attention of the extended community in the Silicon Valley to UCSC. UCSC now has an endowment in Classical North Indian music named after Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and an Endowed Chair in Classical Indian Music named after Talat and Kamil Hasan, the donors. UCSC has made recent appointments in teaching Hindi, South Asian Art History, Women's Studies, Politics, and Post-Colonial Literature.