Don't forget that Facets works with a number of different distributors, so it all depends on who owns the title. The titles that they've distributed in the US on behalf of established companies like Blaq Out and Ideale Audience (e.g., the Sokurov documentaries) look just fine. Also, I've heard that distributors often have to commit to a title before seeing any transfer, and they may get stuck with something less than ideal.
On the other hand, I don't know where Facets obtained their transfer of CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI--there's a beautiful DVD of the film from Italy--but any self-respecting company would have considered that transfer "unusable" and would have written it off as a business loss. There's simply no defense for it. Besides, if you regularly release atrocious DVDs along with the good ones, people lose trust in your product.
Yes, the Second Run DVD (R2 UK) of VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS looks promising. In general, Second Run is putting out some terrific stuff, including several Jancso titles and Adoor Gopalakrishnan's brilliant RAT-TRAP (1981).
From: Film and TV Studies Discussion List [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On Behalf Of [log in to unmask]
Sent: Thursday, June 19, 2008 12:25 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: [SCREEN-L] Facets Video
Short answer would be money and it's not just Facets since New Yorker is notorious for dodgy quality DVDs and even Kino has often been questioned for using PAL transfers & then not even getting those completely right. Finding proper elements, doing NTSC transfers, reliable authoring, etc all run up costs. At some point it's a question of not having the films available at all or doing less than ideal presentations which is always going to be a case-by-case or even viewer-by-viewer call. I have seen a couple of Facets' Czech releases and they did acceptable jobs but certainly nothing more. And if nothing else Facets really shouldn't be compared to Brentwood and Alpha since the latter are of dubious legality.
A new R2 disc of Valerie is due in August.
>From: Scott Andrew Hutchins <[log in to unmask]>
>Sent: Jun 18, 2008 2:23 PM
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: [SCREEN-L] Facets Video
>I was wondering if anyone knows the reasoning why Facets is such a great store and such a horrible DVD label? VHS source material, usually cropped with burned-in subtitles. Is it their fault? Or is it a matter that Criterion or Kino is unable to get better quality copies from the copyright holders and reject them, leaving Facets to release the best that they can, that wasn't good enough for other art film labels? That seems to be the only reason Facets should suck so bad. They must have to pay an enormous licensing fee, since they charge ten times what similar quality DVDs often cost (Brentwood's early releases, Westlake, Digiview, Front Row, Alpha, etc.). I'm thinking of, for example Czech New Wave releases and for forth. Is it the film owners' faults? Apparently the only way to see Valerie and Her Week of Wonders better(and uncropped) is to get a flickery PAL release. As it is, the Facets release is mastered from a PAL VHS, so it runs slightly too fast.
>Even films with electonic subtitles like their Bela Tarr collection generally have the subtitles burned in, so that's a strike that can't be chalked up to the film owners.
>Scott Andrew Hutchins
>http://web.archive.org/web/20050304105837/mywebpages.comcast.net/scottandrewh/ [archive site; not currently active]
>"Those who had been successful adapted themselves to the world around them, had bent their greater mental powers into the pattern of acceptable action. And this dulled their usefulness, limited their capacity, hedged their ability with restrictions set up to fit less extraordinary people." -- Clifford D. Simak, "Census" (1944)
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