Rare Satyajit Ray films to screen in Santa Cruz

After showing to sell-out audiences in Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles during a major retrospective of Satyajit Ray's work, The Expedition (Abhijaan, 1962), a newly restored film by the Oscar-winning director, will be at the Del Mar Theatre in Santa Cruz for one show only on May 25.

Ray's son Sandip Ray, and film archivist Joseph Lindner, who restored The Expedition, will speak at the screening. Sandip Ray's film Target (1994), written by his father, will be shown at the Del Mar on May 26.

"It's amazing, I feel thrilled," said Dilip Basu, associate professor of history and director of the Satyajit Ray Film and Study Collection at the University of California, Santa Cruz, which is sponsoring the screenings. "For many years Ray's films weren't even available, and now there is a growing interest in his work."

Basu has spearheaded an international effort to collect, restore, and share Ray's films. His work has resulted in the restoration of nearly half of Ray's 37 films, as well as a major Ray film retrospective, which played to standing-room-only crowds in Washington, D.C., earlier this year. Selected films from the retrospective have been showing in Ray film series around the U.S., including at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and will travel to Europe this summer.

Though virtually unknown in the West prior to this year, The Expedition was one of Ray's most popular films in India. "It's a different kind of Ray film. It's almost a gangster film, and no one associates Ray with gangster films," said Basu. The movie focuses on a rural taxi driver who is approached by a shady businessman with an offer to transport merchandise.

Just prior to his death in 1992, Satyajit Ray wrote Target as a legacy for his son, who is an award-winning director. Described by the Washington Post as "a subtle, unexpectedly powerful movie," Target tells the story of a village of "Dalits," the lowest segment of the Hindu caste system, struggling against the oppression of a wealthy landowner.

The Expedition will be shown at 11 a.m. on May 25 and Target will be shown at 11 a.m. on May 26 at the Del Mar Theatre, 1124 Pacific Ave. Tickets for these shows are $5.50. For more ticket information, call (831) 426-7500.