Robert Gitt

Nominated by Clyde Jeavons

In a career spanning more than 50 years, Gitt is recognised as one of the world's foremost experts and practitioners of film preservation and restoration. In 1977, he became the first preservation officer of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, where he built up and taught a team of skilled colleagues and restored hundreds of classic Hollywood films, both silent and sound, to the highest standards of the art, earning the constant praise and admiration of peers and film-makers alike. (For a full selective list, see CV.) Highlights of his work have included the revival of director's cuts (e.g., Howard Hawks's 'The Big Sleep', 1945; Orson Welles's 'Macbeth', 1948), along with the frequent recovery of missing scenes and censor cuts. Most notable, perhaps, is his discovery, compilation and acclaimed presentation of the exhaustive rehearsal outtakes of Charles Laughton's 'The Night of the Hunter'. Although now officially retired from the UCLA Archive, Gitt continues to act as adviser and mentor to its technical staff. Gitt has, almost single-handedly, put back into circulation and on to the big screen numerous American film classics and neglected masterpieces, silent and sound, to the visual standards achieved by their original creators. He has, in particular, raised the art and technique of colour film restoration, in titles ranging from the first two-colour Technicolor features (e.g., 'The Toll of the Sea', 1922) and the first three-colour Technicolor subject ('Becky Sharp', 1935), to, most recently, one of the finest Technicolor films of all time, Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's 'The Red Shoes', in collaboration with Martin Scorsese and the BFI and ITV. Gitt has also pioneered the recovery and restoration of early sound, often from wax discs, most notably in the case of Warner Brothers' Vitaphone shorts of 1926-1931. Currently, he is constructing on DVD and BluRay an epic audio-visual history of sound-on-film, the most recent results of which (1933-1975) were launched in 2015. He is well-known for his extensive, entertaining and authoritative presentations and lectures on this and many other film history and restoration topics.