Thelma Schoonmaker to Honor Powell and Pressburger Films with MoMA Retrospective

Legendary film editor Thelma Schoonmaker is honoring the films of filmmaking duo Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger with an upcoming retrospective at MoMA.

Titled “Cinema Unbound: The Creative Worlds of Powell and Pressburger,” the screening series is presented in collaboration with the BFI and will take place from June 21 to July 31. The program includes more than 50 films — many of which are new restorations — and was curated by conservation experts, archivists, and curators at the BFI National Archive.

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Oscar-winning editor Schoonmaker will open the series on June 21 with an introduction to the new digital restoration of “Black Narcissus” (1947). Schoonmaker was married to British director Powell from 1984 until his death in 1990.

Powell and Pressburger’s cultural legacy is most notably recognized in their film “The Red Shoes” (1948), which has inspired sequences in films such as Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” Darren Aronofsky’s “Black Swan,” and Martin Scorsese’s “Raging Bull,” which Schoonmaker edited. Scorsese appeared in a 2024 documentary about the filmmaking duo.

“Cinema Unbound” is the largest and most wide-ranging exploration of Powell and Pressburger’s work to date. The duo worked together on 24 British films between 1939 and 1972, with Powell directing and Pressburger penning scripts. However, both often held the writer/director title in credits for the films they produced together as The Archers.

“Powell and Pressburger have long been favorites of New York filmgoers,” Dave Kehr, film curator at MoMA, said, “but this retrospective, the most comprehensive to date, will allow audiences to trace the development of their work from newly discovered early silent shorts to rarely screened late career masterpieces.”

The program includes many 35mm prints, as well as new digital restorations of such
Powell and Pressburger classics as “The Small Back Room” (1949), “I Know Where I’m Going!”
(1945), “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp” (1943), and “The Tales of Hoffmann “(1951). Rarely screened films from Powell’s early work in the U.K.’s “quota quickie” sector were newly remastered from the BFI National Archive, ranging from “Rynox” (1931) to “The Man Behind the Mask” (1936). Many of these films will be screening in the U.S. for the first time with the program.

Powell’s late-period works screening include “Oh . . .Rosalinda!!” (1955), “The Battle of the River Plate” (1956), the iconic “Peeping Tom” (1960), and Powell’s long-unavailable 1963 adaptation of Bela Bartok’s
opera “Bluebeard’s Castle.” The latter two are newly restored by the BFI National Archive and
the Film Foundation.

“Cinema Unbound” was organized at BFI by Robin Baker, Head of Cultural Partnerships, James Bell, Senior Curator of Fiction Film, and Claire Smith, Senior Curator of Special Collections, and at MoMA by Dave Kehr, Curator, and Olivia Priedite, Film Program Coordinator, Department of Film.

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