Satyajit Ray fans have cause to celebrate with several upcoming film events coming up involving a large body of his film work. Satyajit Ray was a Bengali film director from India who is widely considered to be one of the world's greatest filmmakers. During his life (1921-1992) he directed 36 films, including features, documentaries, and shorts. Nineteen of his films have been restored by the Academy Film Archive and are being shown in screenings taking place in Los Angeles, London, and Vienna through a partnership between the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the British Film Institute (BFI), the American Cinematheque, and the Austrian Film Museum (Österreichisches Filmmuseum).
Ray co-founded the Calcutta Film Society in 1947. He began filming Pather Panchali, his debut, in 1952. After its completion and theater debut in 1955, he was immediately widely acclaimed. His second film, Aparajito, won the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival. Akira Kurosawa later said of his films, "Not to have seen the cinema of Ray means existing in the world without seeing the sun or the moon."
He was honored with 32 Indian National Film Awards. The Indian government honored him with the Bharat Ratna in 1992. That same year Ray also received an Honorary Award from the Academy "in recognition of his rare mastery of the art of motion pictures, and of his profound humanitarian outlook, which has had an indelible influence on filmmakers and audiences throughout the world" in 1992. He passed away less than a month later.
***Ray's three most famous films, the so-called Apu Trilogy, are screening over two nights at the Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills. On 6 September, পথের পাঁচালী / Pather Pancchali (Song of the Little Road -- 1955) and অপরাজিত / Aparajito (The Unvanquished -- 1956) are playing at 7 pm.
On 9 September, the trilogy's conclusion, অপুর সংসার / Apur Sansar (The World of Apu -- 1959) is showing at 7:30 pm. The program will also include guest Sharmila Tagore, who made her screen debut as Aparna in the film, as well as Dilip Basu, founding director of the Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center Collection at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Tickets for each evening of the screenings are $5 for the general public and $3 for Academy members and students with valid ID. Tickets may be purchased online at www.oscars.org, in person at the Academy box office or by mail. Doors open one hour before the screenings.
In London, the BFI Southbank will present Satyajit Ray from 14 August through 5 October. Santa Monica's Aero Theatre will present Unlocking the Golden Fortress: Satyajit Ray Restored from 12 September through 21 October, featuring all nineteen of the restored Ray films. Finally, in Vienna, the Austrian Film Museum will present Satyajit Ray: Early Works from 4 December through 8 January, 2014.
At Amoeba, Satyajit Ray has his own director's section in Indian Cinema (a subsection of Asian Cinema). Although his Apu Trilogy is currently out-of-print on DVD, The Music Room (1958), The Big City (1963), Charulata (1964), and The Chess Players (1977) are currently available domestically. If you have a multi-zone DVD player, you might try the Import DVD section.