HFPA-Funded Restoration Hits Theaters: “The Story of a Three-Day Pass”

The Story of a Three-Day Pass, the first film by seminal African American director Melvin Van Peebles is returning to theaters after a new 4K restoration by Indiecollect. The restored film which made its world debut in 2020 at the HFPA’s Restoration Summit, tells the story of a Black US serviceman stationed in Paris who falls in love with a French woman. It was shot in the French capital in 1968, when Van Peebles was living and working there and reflects the influence of the Nouvelle Vague, at its peak as well as the creative freedom of that pivotal cultural time. When he introduced the film at the HFPA Summit last year, the director’s son (and director on his own right) Mario Van Peebles, told the audience of the film’s autobiographical overtones, of his father’s early career in the military and the scandal provoked at the time by his marriage to a White woman and his move to Paris to pursue his artistic dreams. Van Peebles Sr., who also composed the original score, would go on to become an auteur of African American cinema with films like Watermelon Man and Sweet Sweetback’s Badasssss Song.

The restoration is part of Indiecollect’s preservation slate focusing on independent cinema. The organization, the brainchild of Sandra Schulberg has been at the forefront of this important work and is an invaluable partner for the HFPA’s program of supporting film preservation, extend it to neglected films by women, queer and African American filmmakers.

The Story of a Three-Day Pass will screen at the Film Forum in New York and the Laemmle’s NOHO in Los Angeles.