A multicolored light in a theater.

Lightbox Film Center Film Restoration Projects

Lightbox Film Center at UArts—Philadelphia’s premier series for cutting-edge, avant-garde films—digitally restores and remasters films that have been overlooked or neglected.

“Lightbox is really about preserving the legacy of cinema and expanding the canon. It’s about giving underrepresented artists time to shine.” – Lightbox Director Jesse Pires

Through the generosity of Ron and Suzanne Naples, Lightbox has the funds to restore such films.

Some of the most under-represented films are important older works in danger of fading out of existence. “There are films that may not have been screened in decades that need to be rescued,” Director Jesse Pires said. Restoring a film involves locating all of its original elements, including negatives and soundtracks. “Then the pieces are reconstructed, color corrected and digitally manipulated to create a new 35-millimeter print,” he explained. It takes time, skill, and, crucially, the kind of financial resources made possible by the Naples’ gift. Lightbox has always been more than just a movie theater. Pires explained that its goal is to bring content to life that expands the definition of cinema. “The Naples’ gift will help Lightbox explore these possibilities.”

Thus far, five films have been restored since the project started in 2021:

  • Life is Cheap … But Toilet Paper is Expensive (1989), by Wayne Wang, who is best-known for the Joy Luck Club (1993) and Maid in Manhattan (2002); 
  • The Innerview (1973), an avant-garde documentary by Richard Beymer; 
  • Time of the Heathen (1962) by Peter Kass, which premiered at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna earlier this year; 
  • Naked Acts (1996), an independent feature by Bridgette S. Davis; and 
  • Household Saints (1993), the cast of which includes Vincent D’Onofrio, Lili Taylor, and Tracey Ullman.

Lightbox continues to bring lost films back to life. 

Learn more about Lightbox’s first restoration project, Life is Cheap… But Toilet Paper is Expensive. 

Learn more about the restoration of The Innerview.

Learn more about the restoration of Household Saints.

Read more about Ron and Suzanne Naples’ gift.