Film Preservationist and Producer Robert A. Harris Discusses Film Restoration and Hollywood at a Lecture and Dinner at Bryn Mawr Film Institute

November 9, 2011

Bryn Mawr, PA—On December 1, world-renowned film preservationist Robert A. Harris will discuss the art of film restoration at Bryn Mawr Film Institute. A skilled raconteur, Harris will regale guests with stories from his rich career as a Hollywood producer (The Grifters) and film preservationist (Lawrence of Arabia, My Fair Lady, Vertigo, The Godfather trilogy), as well as illuminate the little-known art of film restoration and preservation. Guests may attend a special dinner with Harris at 6:00 pm followed by his in-theater lecture, or just the 7:30 pm lecture.

The Art of Film Restoration: Close Up with Robert A. Harris
Bryn Mawr Film Institute
Thursday, December 1
6:00 pm: Dinner with Robert A. Harris, Multimedia Room
7:30 pm: In-theater talk about film restoration with Robert A. Harris

Interested in photography and film processing from a young age, Robert A. Harris got his start with film preservation working on reconstructions of several films by the famed French director Abel Gance, Grand amour de Beethoven (1936) and J'accuse (1938). He also worked with Kevin Brownlow on Brownlow’s two-decade long restoration of Gance’s influential masterpiece, 1927’s Napoleon, which had been edited down and reorganized to its detriment upon its original US release.

A specialist devoted to restoring the lavish, large-format films of the 1950s and 60s, Harris became widely known as an accomplished preservationist for his ambitious reconstruction of Lawrence of Arabia, re-released to theaters in 1989. His version, created by working closely with director David Lean, restored an extra 21 minutes of footage that had been cut from film after its premiere. The National Board of Review honored him with a special award for his restoration of the famed 70mm classic.

Harris followed this project with acclaimed reconstructions of Spartacus and My Fair Lady, re-released in 1991 and 1994 respectively. The latter’s original camera negative had been damaged in an earthquake and the original vocal and musical tracks were lost; restoring the film took over one year and was the first restoration involving digital technology.

He followed up these early successes with restorations of such wide-format classics as The Godfather trilogy and It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World. A film historian as well, Harris co-authored The Complete Films of Alfred Hitchcock with Michael S. Lasky, so it is fitting that he has also restored Hitchcock’s Vertigo and Rear Window.

Also a producer, the second original feature he produced was 1990’s The Grifters, which was nominated for numerous awards, including four Academy Awards. For his work on the film, Harris shared an Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature with his fellow producers, Martin Scorsese and Jim Painter.

Harris has received many accolades for his preservation work. In 2010, Harris received the International Press Academy’s Nikola Tesla Award for his efforts to preserve and restore our cinematic heritage. He and his frequent collaborators James C. Katz and Bob O’Neil were also jointly presented with the King Vidor Memorial Award at the 2000 San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

A champion of film preservation, Harris also served on the Committee for Film Preservation and Public Access, presenting before The National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress in 1993.

Interviews with Harris have been featured in several films about our cinematic heritage, including Lost Forever and These Amazing Shadows, as well as specials about the films he’s restored.

Tickets to the dinner and in-theater talk are $100 General Admission and $90 for Bryn Mawr Film Institute members. Advance tickets are available online now at and at the Box Office. The dinner begins at 6:00 pm and will take place in the second floor Multimedia Room; seating is limited.

Guests may also attend Robert A. Harris’s 7:30 pm multimedia talk without the dinner. Tickets to the in-theater presentation are $20 general admission and $18 for BMFI members. Tickets are available online and at the Box Office.

For a full schedule of upcoming events and classes, visit

About Bryn Mawr Film Institute

Bryn Mawr Film Institute is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization committed to restoring the historic Bryn Mawr Theater and transforming it into the region’s preeminent film entertainment and education center. Founded in 2002 by Main Line academic, business, and civic leaders, Bryn Mawr Film Institute presents a daily program of first-run and repertory art and independent films and provides a comprehensive film studies curriculum, including courses, workshops, discussions, guest lecturers, visual literacy programs, and student screening opportunities. To learn about upcoming events or find news about the theater’s restoration project, visit, or write to


Film stills and interviews available upon request. Contact Devin Wachs.