WITH THE help of many people, the situation regarding my films has started to change. Perhaps one of the first major breakthroughs was a retrospective of my work at the Carpenter Center at Harvard University (USA) in early 2000, organized and presided over by the American filmmaker John Gianvito. There is no doubt that this retrospective helped greatly, probably for the first time, to direct attention to the ensemble of my work. It was followed by a number of other key screenings, including a retrospective in November 2002 at the Leeds International Film Festival (UK), organized by Alex King. Retrospectives in the spring of 2004 at the Ontario Cinematheque in Toronto (Canada), organized by Susan Oxtoby, and in the summer of that year in La Rochelle (France), organized by Prune Engler and Sylvie Pras, have also added to a growing public knowledge of my work.
Also, there was the support from Jean-Pierre Lenestour and Hervé Hoyet in France, who financed the production of new 35mm prints of ‘Punishment Park’ in 2000. In more recent years, Oliver Groom, of Project X Distribution in Toronto (Canada), has financed the restoration of ‘Edvard Munch’ in both TV and cinema versions, as well as producing DVD versions of ‘The Freethinker’ and most notably ‘The Journey’. My son Patrick, along with Caroline Lensing-Hebben and other members of Rebond pour la Commune, have worked for years to make ‘La Commune’ and other films available in France (and elsewhere). Without all this help and support, the situation for my films today would be very bleak.
I want to especially acknowledge the support and companionship of my wife Vida, who has tirelessly assisted me through the periods of depression and upheaval which have been caused on so many levels and over many years by the professional marginalization of my work. Vida was also responsible for initially contacting the many different distributors and producers of my work in the mid-1990s, when we first began to assemble a list of where my work was available - and where it was being blocked. This required endless phone calls and letters, often in the face of considerable indifference and lack of response.
I want to conclude by expressing my sincere appreciation to Al Urbonavicius in Canada for his design of the site and work as webmaster. Without Al’s support, this site would not exist.
Peter WatkinsFrance, 2021