I had an opportunity today to see the restoration of Day Shall Dawn at Cannes. Apparently, the film was lost for decades, but a film positive was discovered I believe around 2007 and a restoration has been underway over the last several years. The producer's son Anjum Taseer mentioned that the restoration was a long process (and is perhaps still ongoing). The audio was quite rough in places. It appeared to me that the elements that were found already had English subtitles baked in, so there may not exist clean elements without the subtitles, which are superimposed over the film, causing artifacts from the optical process to be seen across the entire image any time subtitles appear, which is a real shame. Where subtitles do not appear, the images look quite good, with only a few instances of shaky or warped images or scratches, most of which looked to me like they could be removed with further restoration.• Jago hua savera (Day Shall Dawn) by Aaejay Kardar (1958, 1h34, Pakistan)
A presentation of the Nauman Taseer Foundation. Image and sound restoration from the best elements possible, since the negative has disappeared, by Deluxe Restoration London. It was commissioned by Anjum Taseer.
The film itself is beautiful and lyrical, a glimpse back in time to what was then East Pakistan, and today Bangladesh. It is one of those small films about village life and the tribulations of the poor, not totally dissimilar from Satyajit Ray's Pather Panchali, though not as well made, either. The film has endured some criticism for in-authenticity, mainly due to using actors from outside the region and including Urdu language, but to a western viewer like me, these were non issues. The film was DP'd by Oscar-winning European cinematographer Walter Lassally, so the black-and-white cinematography is superb and atmospheric. Many of the village actors were non-professionals, but this only seemed to add to the charm of the film, not take away from it. One sequence I really loved had the character Kasim (Khan Ataur Rahman) navigating a boat through gorgeous rural landscapes, scored with local music. Sublime stuff.
I definitely recommend the film. From what I could understand from Anjum Taseer, there is a bit more restoration to do, but they seem eager to find distribution via Blu-ray at some point in the near future. As of this moment, there are no immediate plans for distribution.