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Archival News 54.3 (Spring 2015)
Edited by Katherine Groo


1. ACQUISITIONS

Korean Film Archive Receives Large Donation of Lost Films

Korean Film Archive Receives Large Donation of Lost Films

The Korean Film Archive (KOFA) recently announced that it has received a large trove of films once considered lost. At a press conference in Seoul, KOFA officials said that the institution had received a donation of 450 films. The donation includes works from notable directors such as Lee Man-hee, Im Kwon-taek, Jung Jin-woo, Kim Su-yong, and Hong Eun-won, the second female director to debut in Korea. 

The large donation came from Han Gyu-ho, who once ran a traveling film projection business in Seoul. Once films were released through theaters nationwide, traveling projection businesses like Han’s would buy rights to screen the films in local community centers or makeshift theaters. He kept all of the film reels that he had collected during decades of projection.

Five of the films—Jung Jin-woo’s The Only Son (1963), Im Kwon-taek’s Battlefield and a Female Teacher (1966), Lee Man-hee’s Unforgettable Woman (1966), Kim Su-yong’s Full Ship, and Choi Ha-won’s Trees Stand on Slope (1968)—will be revealed this year to the public.

Further details can be found here. The complete list of rediscovered films can be seen here and here.  

[Above: Trees Stand on Slope (Choi Ha-won, 1968)]

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2. PRESERVATION AND RESTORATION

Rare Aloha Wanderwell Baker Footage Preserved by Academy Film Archive

Rare Aloha Wanderwell Baker Footage Preserved by Academy Film Archive

The Academy Film Archive recently preserved rarely seen footage of adventure filmmaker Aloha Wanderwell Baker, the first woman to travel around the world by car. The footage will be added to the archive’s Aloha Wanderwell Film Collection, an assortment of 16mm and 35mm films, which reveal the story of Aloha’s around-the-globe adventures across five continents during the 1920s and 1930s.

Born in Canada as Idris Hall, Aloha began travelling very early in life. In 1922, with her mother’s permission, the fourteen-year-old left school in the south of France to answer a newspaper ad seeking a secretary for a round-the-world expedition. She joined the Work Around the World Educational Club (WAWEC), created by self-proclaimed “Captain” Walter Wanderwell in 1919, which promoted the newly formed League of Nations. Idris Hall took the stage name Aloha Wanderwell and became known as “the world’s most traveled girl.”

Aloha learned the craft of filmmaking during her travels. She served as camera assistant, cinematographer, editor, actress, screenwriter, interpreter, driver and negotiator. Aloha and the crew filmed on 35mm nitrate camera negative stock and documented Egypt’s Valley of the Kings and the Taj Mahal, as well as Polish army maneuvers and a funeral procession in Peking. Aloha and the Wanderwell crew had their film developed when they reached cities with a film laboratory and edited the best shots together to present in special engagement screenings.

Upon completion of the expedition, the Wanderwell crew arrived in Los Angeles in 1925 and compiled the three years’ worth of footage that would later become their first feature-length silent film, With Car and Camera around the World (1929). Aloha and Walter (now married) presented the film together as part of an American tour and lecture series. The Wanderwells continued to travel and capture distinct landmarks and cultures on film, most notably during a trip in 1930 to Brazil. The moving images made during this journey to the state of Mato Grosso captured the Bororo people, an indigenous tribe. Aloha used the footage from this trip to create multiple films, including The Last of the Bororos, The River of Death and Flight to the Stone Age.

Aloha began to wind down her lectures and screenings by the 1980s and shift her focus to the long-term care and preservation of her film collection. Carefully selecting footage she believed appropriate for the receiving organization, Aloha donated portions of her collection to several institutions, including the Academy. Aloha’s initial 1985 donation to the Academy (preserved by the Academy Film Archive in 2014) contains both edited and unedited shots primarily for With Car and Camera around the World in addition to a few sequences and outtakes from other films, including The Last of the Bororos (1931), The River of Death (1934) and To See the World by Car (1937). The Archive recently received a large donation of the remainder of Aloha’s film collection from the Nile Baker Estate. Processing, evaluation and preservation of this recent donation is currently underway.

Aloha Wanderwell Baker’s only sound film, The River of Death (1934) can be seen online at the Library of Congress. Further details on the collection and its preservation are available from the Academy Film Archive.

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Cineteca di Bologna Will Restore All of Buster Keaton’s Silent Films

Cineteca di Bologna Will Restore All of Buster Keaton’s Silent Films

Italy’s Cineteca di Bologna has announced a multiyear project in tandem with New York-based Cohen Media Group to restore all of Buster Keaton’s silent films. The first restorations from the Keaton Project will be the short comedy One Week (1920)—the first film that Keaton made on his own—along with Sherlock Jr. (1924), the third feature-length film that Keaton made as an independent. The new restorations will screen during this summer’s Cinema Ritrovato festival.

 

Cineteca di Bologna previously dedicated over a decade to the restoration of Charlie Chaplin’s entire oeuvre. For more information on the restoration project, see here.


[Above: Buster Keaton and Sybil Seely in
One Week (1920)]

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AMPAS, UCLA Partners with Cuban Film Archive to Restore Pre-Revolutionary Cinema

AMPAS, UCLA Partners with Cuban Film Archive to Restore Pre-Revolutionary Cinema

Luciano Castillo, director of Cuba’s Cinemateca, announced that the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) will help restore the negatives of two films from the Cuban filmmaker Tomás Gutiérrez Alea. The two films, A Cuban Fight Against Demons (1971) and The Survivors (1979), will be re-released during the Havana Festival in December 2015.

The UCLA Film & Television Archive is also partnering with Cuba’s national film archive to restore, exhibit, and distribute pre-revolutionary Cuban cinema. According to Castillo, it will be the first organized effort to preserve three decades of Cuban cinema from 1932 to 1960.

The preservation project is still at the research phase, according to Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. Plans are for the new prints to be struck with English subtitles and for the restored films to be digitized. The Cuban film preservation effort is part of a project dubbed Classic Latin American Cinema in Los Angeles (1932–1960), which will culminate in a three-month public film exhibition scheduled to screen in Los Angeles from October 2017 through December 2017, followed by a touring exhibition featuring selected highlights and restored prints in North America.

The project is being funded partly by the Getty Foundation’s Pacific Standard Time LA/LA initiative, described as an exploration of Latin American and Latino art in dialogue with Los Angeles of major artistic movements and contemporary artistic practices. To date, the Getty Foundation has awarded grants to 40 museums for exhibition research for Pacific Standard Time LA/LA.

Further details can be found here and here.

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Daughter of Dawn Restored, Set for Release

Daughter of Dawn Restored, Set for Release

The Oklahoma Historical Society, in collaboration with Film Technology and Modern VideoFilm, recently completed their restoration of Daughter of Dawn (Norbert Myles, 1920), a long-lost silent film featuring a cast of Comanche and Kiowa peoples. In 2013, the Library of Congress added the movie to its National Film Registry, describing the film as “a fascinating example of the daringly unexpected topics and scope showcased by the best regional, independent filmmaking during the silent era.”

The film was discovered more than a decade ago, when a private detective in North Carolina stumbled across a damaged copy. The detective then sold the reels of the movie—shot in the Wichita Mountains in southwestern Oklahoma—to the Oklahoma Historical Society. The historical society retains ownership of the original nitrate film, which is being stored at the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study in Los Angeles.

 

An initial screening of the eighty-seven-minute film was held at the Amarillo, Texas Public Library in April. Composer David Yeagley wrote an original score to accompany the film, which was performed by the Oklahoma City University Orchestra. The film will be released on DVD and online by the end of the year. 

[Above: An interview with members of the Oklahoma Historical Society, featuring excerpts from the restoration]

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3. INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

Serbian Film Archive Sold Despite Protests

Serbian Film Archive Sold Despite Protests

Serbia has sold an iconic Yugoslav-era film studio for eight million euros, signing away the rights to an archive of classic cinematography despite protests by filmmakers and industry professionals. Founded in the wake of World War II by Yugoslav leader Josip Broz Tito, Avala Film produced and co-produced hundreds of movies, including the 1967 winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or, I Even Met Happy Gypsies (Aleksandar Petrović).

The studio fell into disrepair with the collapse of the Yugoslav federation in the 1990s and bankruptcy proceedings began in 2011. As the sale neared, a petition was started that sought to exclude the film archive from the privatization process, without success. Further details on the studio and the sale can be found here and here.

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L’Immagine Ritrovata Opens Restoration Lab in Hong Kong

L’Immagine Ritrovata Opens Restoration Lab in Hong Kong

Italy’s film restoration laboratory L’Immagine Ritrovata is set to open a new facility in Hong Kong, its first in Asia, for the restoration and conservation of Asian film heritage. With an investment of €500,000, L’Immagine Ritrovata Asia will be equipped with state-of-the-art machinery for services such as film repair, washing, and scanning.

Established in 1992, L’Immagine Ritrovata made its first Asian restoration in 2008 when the Hong Kong Film Archive sent in the lost Chinese classic Confucius (1938). Since then, the business for Asia has grown significantly. Last year King Hu’s Dragon Gate Inn (1967) premiered in 4K at Cannes; and Jiang Wen’s In the Heat of the Sun (1995) and Peter Chan’s Comrades, Almost a Love Story (1996) both premiered at the Venice festival in 2013. Newly restored films include Hu’s A Touch of Zen 1970) and John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1986).

More information can be found here and here.

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Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive Reveals Details of Inaugural Exhibition

Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive Reveals Details of Inaugural Exhibition

The Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive recently revealed details about their inaugural exhibition and programs as they prepare to move into their new location near the University of California, Berkeley campus. The new museum— which Diller Scofidio + Renfro was commissioned to design—is scheduled to open in early 2016.

The BAM/PFA plans to screen some 400 films and up to twenty art exhibitions annually, in addition to hosting various public programs and performances. The first major exhibition, “Architecture of Life,” will explore the multi-faceted roles that architecture—as a concept, metaphor, and practice—plays in everyday life experiences. An international showcase of over 150 works of art, architectural drawings, models, and scientific illustrations from the last 1,000 years from figures like Buckminster Fuller, Ruth Asawa, Ernst Haeckel, Lebbeus Woods, Rosie Lee Tompkins will occupy the entire building. More details about the exhibition can be found here.

The new building will integrate the former UC Berkeley printing plant and a new steel-clad curvilinear structure, encompassing about 82,000 square feet in total. It will include two film theaters, a performance forum, a cafe, four art and film study centers, a reading room, an art-making lab, and creative gathering areas. More details are available here.

[Above: Rendering of the new UC Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive (BAM/PFA), designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro]

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Britain’s First Cinema Reopens After £6m Refurbishment

Britain’s First Cinema Reopens After £6m Refurbishment

The Regent Street Cinema in London was used as a lecture hall by the University of Westminster after screenings ended in 1980. It has been restored to its former glory, at a cost of £6m, thanks to a £1.5m Heritage Lottery Fund grant and money raised through a “name a seat” project. According to Shira MacLeod, the cinema’s director, it will be the only movie theater in the UK to show moving image media “from 16mm and 35mm to Super 8 film, to the latest in 4K digital film.

In 1838, 309 Regent Street opened as the Polytechnic Institution, a place where members of the public could pay to see new scientific experiments. Attractions included demonstrations of underwater breathing apparatus and a magnified view of Thames water. The theater, added on to the premises in 1848, was initially used for science lectures. It also played host to magic lantern shows and illusion. The venue was later bought by philanthropist Quintin Hogg, who changed its name to the Regent Street Polytechnic and used it to educate young working people.

By 1896, the reputation of the institution was such that the Lumière brothers chose it as the UK venue to showcase their Cinématographe. Travel films and documentaries were shown at the theater during the 1920s, including titles made by the pioneering wildlife photographer Cherry Kearton. And, in 1951, the theater premiered the UK’s first X-rated film: La Vie Commence Demain (Nicole Védrès, 1950).

The restored cinema, which also houses the original organ used to accompany silent movies, will feature British and world cinema, retrospectives and classic repertory titles, documentaries, experimental moving image, and animation. The first film will be Only Angels Have Wings, the 1939 Howard Hawks film starring Cary Grant, Jean Arthur and Rita Hayworth. It will screen on 7 May 2015. More details on the restoration and screening schedule can be found here and here.

[Above: Watercolor rendering of Regent Street Cinema, University of Westminster, artist unknown]

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In Memoriam: Phyllis R. Klotman, Lia Van Leer, J. Fred MacDonald, and Roger Mayer

In Memoriam: Phyllis R. Klotman, Lia Van Leer, J. Fred MacDonald, and Roger Mayer

Phyllis R. Klotman, a film scholar who helped unearth lost treasures of African-American cinema and established a major archive devoted to their preservation and study, died on 30 March 2015 at her home in Manhattan. She was 90. At her death, Professor Klotman was an emeritus professor in the department of African-American and African diaspora studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. There, in 1981, she created the Black Film Center/Archive, the first significant repository of its kind in the United States. Professor Klotman founded what became the journal Black Camera. She convened symposiums and screenings, and championed the work of contemporary black filmmakers. Today, the archive she founded comprises more than 3,000 films, spanning the silent era to the present day, along with photographs, posters and oral histories.

Lia Van Leer, founder of the Haifa Cinematheque, the Jerusalem Cinematheque, the Israel Film Archive, and the Jerusalem Film Festival, died on 13 March 2015 at age 90. In the 1950s, Van Leer and her husband, Dutch engineer Wim Van Leer, turned their love of movies into film clubs that later expanded beyond their living room into cinematheque facilities all over Israel. The Van Leers’ personal collection of movies, acquired from their travels in Europe and the U.S., became the basis of the Israel Film Archive, founded in 1960. Lia Van Leer served as a member of the Cannes film festival jury in 1983 and was president of the Berlin film fest jury in 1995. In 2004 she was awarded one of her native country’s highest honors, the Israel Prize.

J. Fred MacDonald, 74, died 9 April 2015 at his home in Los Angeles. Professor MacDonald taught history for twenty-seven years at Northeastern Illinois University, and built a vast archive of films on (among other topics) how to avoid social diseases, drugs, alcohol, homosexuals, and Communism. His 50,000-piece collection contained 40,000 reels of film and 40,000 hours of radio broadcasts. Professor MacDonald put it together from studios and libraries that were disposing of old movies, and from underground collectors, estate sales, and storage lockers. He stored floor-to-ceiling stacks of film cans in a warehouse near Northeastern. His collection was one of the largest amassed by an individual, and he provided footage to TV networks, researchers, and documentarians around the world.

Roger Mayer, a movie executive who became a forceful advocate for film preservation after inspecting storehouses packed with decaying negatives on an MGM lot, died on 28 March 2015. He was 88. Mayer was a founder and chairman of the San Francisco foundation, which helps archivists across the U.S. save and restore hundreds of newsreels, documentaries, silent movies, avant-garde presentations and other “orphan” films. He also was a member of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. At the 2005 Academy Awards ceremony, he received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for his film preservation work and for his support of the Motion Picture & Television Fund, an industry nonprofit that provides health care and social services.

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4. EXHIBITIONS

Deutsche Kinemathek Presents Technicolor Retrospective at Berlinale

Deutsche Kinemathek Presents Technicolor Retrospective at Berlinale

At the 2015 Berlinale Retrospective, the Deutsche Kinemathek presented a series of Technicolor films in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the film process. The Retrospective exhibited thirty films, many of which have been recently restored. Titles included (among many others) The Wizard of Oz (Victor Fleming, 1939); She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (John Ford, 1949); and the epic drama An American Romance (King Vidor, 1944).

A complete program can be found here. For further details on the Berlinale Retrospective, see here.

[Above: an image from La Cucaracha (Lloyd Corrigan, 1934); George Eastman House]

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George Eastman House Hosts First Festival of Film Conservation

George Eastman House Hosts First Festival of Film Conservation

On 1–3 May 2015, the George Eastman House hosted “The Nitrate Picture Show,” the first film festival of film conservation. The festival presented nine feature film nitrate prints seen by audiences during cinema’s golden age. In addition to the film programs, the event featured talks by Roger Smither, David Bordwell, and Kevin Brownlow.

A complete schedule of events can be found here; further details are here.

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Wolfson Archive Screens Never-Before-Seen Florida Films in Diptych

Wolfson Archive Screens Never-Before-Seen Florida Films in Diptych

On 23 April 2015, the Wolfson Archive in Miami, Florida screened “Moving Images: Archives to Audiences,” a series of South Florida and Caribbean-centric home movies and amateur films. The 16mm preservation prints were presented as a diptych, with two reels projected side-by-side and accompanying music selected and performed by experimental artist and musician David Brieske.

Miami-based artist Barron Sherer curated the event and explained: “The challenge was presenting these materials in a new context. With our program’s diptych presentation and added music element, we’re hoping our audience goes beyond the nostalgia one associates with home movies and amateur filmmaking and enjoys them aesthetically; looking for associations and connections in these unique arrangements of films screening publicly for the first time.”

The program details and further information can be found here.

[Above: image from “Moving Images: Archives to Audiences”; Courtesy: Lynn and Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archives]

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Syracuse Cinephile Celebrates Thirty-Fifth Year and Grande Finale

Syracuse Cinephile Celebrates Thirty-Fifth Year and Grande Finale

The Syracuse Cinephile Society held its thirty-fifth and final Cinefest in Syracuse, New York on 19–22 March 2015. For decades, Cinefest has attracted film enthusiasts from around the world to central New York. The festival features classic silent and sound feature films produced between 1900s and 1950s alongside many rare and forgotten titles.

This year’s festival included rare Hal Roach talkie shorts; a Spanish-language version of When the Wind Blows (James Horne (1930); silent comedies from the Library of Congress, including several that were recently identified in its annual “Mostly Lost” festival; one-of-a-kind 16mm prints from private collectors (including the late William K. Everson); early sound Fox features, including Painted Woman (John Blystone, 1932) and Life in the Raw (Louis King, 1933); and live piano scores by eight silent-film accompanists.

This year’s complete program can be found here; a history of the organization is here; and further details on the decision to end the festival can be found here. Leonard Maltin—a frequent participant and contributor at Cinefest—wrote an account of this year’s event as well.

[Above: A poster for Weekend in Havana (Walter Lang, 1941), the first film shown at this year’s Cinefest.]

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5. CONFERENCES, SYMPOSIA, AND WORKSHOPS

Film Heritage, Film Foundation Launch Restoration Workshop in Mumbai

Film Heritage, Film Foundation Launch Restoration Workshop in Mumbai

From 22–28 February 2015, the Film Heritage Foundation, in collaboration with The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, Cineteca di Bologna, and L’Immagine Ritrovata, hosted a one-week Film Restoration School in Mumbai, India to provide film preservation and restoration training to help safeguard Indian cinematic heritage.

The one-week programme included screenings, lectures and practical hands-on lessons, conducted by experts from around the world and the staff of L’Immagine Ritrovata. The programme’s goal is to address the current issues surrounding film preservation and restoration while providing participants with practical training of current restoration and archival best-practices

More information on this and previous restoration workshops can be found here.

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NFSA hosts FIAF Congress, Beyond Bytes

NFSA hosts FIAF Congress, Beyond Bytes

During the week of 11–18 April 2015, the Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film (FIAF) held their seventy-first annual congress in Sydney and Canberra, Australia. Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive hosted the event. Delegates from more than forty countries attended the congress to discuss digitisation and copyright, as well as key challenges and opportunities for all organisations engaged in the task of preserving the world’s audiovisual heritage. The complete conference program can be found here.

During the congress, FIAF and the NFSA honored the seventieth anniversary of the liberation of the KZ Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on 15 April 1945 with a screening of German Concentration Camps Factual Survey (1945/2014), formerly known as Memory of the Camps (1985). The screening was held at the Australian National Parliament in Canberra the day after the anniversary and included introductions by Imperial War Museums (IWM) curator David Walsh and a daughter of one of the film’s original cameramen. Director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive Jan-Christopher Horak has written an account of the event here. Details of the restoration process are available from the Guardian.

On 20 April 2015, shortly after the close of the congress, the NSFA hosted “Beyond Bytes” a workshop on new preservation technologies. Speakers included the Head of the Library and Film Study Centre at the Pacific Film Archive in Berkley, California, Nancy Goldman; Moving Image Cataloguer and Preservation Officer at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archive in Hollywood, California, Thelma Ross and Josef Lindner; Collection Manager and Head of Conservation at the British Film Institute, Helen Edmunds and Charles Fairall; and, Curator of the Archival Film Collections at the Swedish Film Institute in Stockholm, Jon Wengström.

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“Digitizing History of Film” Event Held in Lagos

“Digitizing History of Film” Event Held in Lagos

In April 2015, professionals and stakeholders within the Nigerian film industry gathered in Lagos to discuss “Digitizing the History of Film in Nigeria,” an event held as part of the Centenary Film Project. The event was hosted by the School of Media and Communication of the Pan-Atlantic University (PAU) in collaboration with HomeVida and Google. Veterans and budding filmmakers shared from their perspectives on the challenges faced by the region in preservation and distribution, and how new technologies can help to address these challenges.

The Centenary Film Project aims to protect and safeguard the audiovisual heritage of Nigeria. The strategy of the project is to use a mix of mobile, web, and offline tools for generating, capturing, and disseminating information about Nigerian films. The project’s web platform includes a vast and growing database of Nigerian cinema.

For further information on this event or the Centenary Film Project, see here.

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6. GRANTS AND AWARDS

NEH Grants Support Audiovisual Preservation

NEH Grants Support Audiovisual Preservation

In March, the American National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) announced $22.8 million in grants for 232 humanities projects. Many of the grants will support audiovisual preservation. For example, George Washington University received $103,900 for the preparation of an electronic edition of the 390 extant sound and moving image recordings made by Eleanor Roosevelt as a public affairs commentator and broadcast journalist; Indiana University received 150,000 in order to digitize forty linear feet (23,300 items) from the archives of Richard E. Norman, a pioneer in the development of films for African American audiences; and UCLA’s Chicano Studies Research Center received $200,000 for the arrangement and description of documents and photographs from seven archival collections pertaining to the Mexican American experience in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s, along with digitization of 15,000 photographs.

A complete list of grant recipients can be found here

[Above: A photograph of a walkout at Roosevelt High School in L.A. from the La Raza Newspaper and Magazine Records, one of seven collections that will be made accessible thanks to an NEH grant to the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center]

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IU Trustee Endows Student Award for Scoring Silent Cinema

IU Trustee Endows Student Award for Scoring Silent Cinema

Indiana University Cinema and the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music will commission a new orchestral score for one silent film each year, thanks to a generous gift from P.A. Mack Jr. In the coming months, the first Jon Vickers Film Scoring Award will be given to one student from the composition department in the Jacobs School of Music. The winning student will receive a $5,000 commission to fully score a silent film for an orchestra containing up to 17 musicians. The world premiere of the winning film score will be held at IU Cinema in February 2016, when a student orchestra will provide live accompaniment to The Return of Draw Egan, a 1916 film directed by William S. Hart.

The idea for an annual film scoring competition grew from a pilot program in 2012, when IU Cinema hosted the world premiere of a new, student-composed orchestral score for a screening of the 1922 film David Copperfield (A. W. Sandberg). The Jon Vickers Film Scoring Award is designed to provide undergraduate and graduate students from the Jacobs School of Music the opportunity to compose music for films, and to have those new scores premiere in front of live audiences. The program also will give community members a chance each year to view a film presented with a live orchestra.

Mack is a current member of the Indiana University Foundation Board and has served as vice president of the IU Board of Trustees and chairman of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Vickers is the founding director of IU Cinema, which opened in January 2011. Vickers previously served as managing director of the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center and director of the Browning Cinema at the University of Notre Dame.

More details on this program can be found here.

[Above: Two Indiana University students from The Jacobs School of Music discuss their experience composing and conducting a score for David Copperfield (A. W. Sandberg, 1922)]

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7. PUBLICATIONS AND DVDS

Pioneers of African-American Cinema Kickstarter Project Reaches Goal

Pioneers of African-American Cinema Kickstarter Project Reaches Goal

On 4 February 2015, Kino Lorber launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $35,000 for a four-disc collection entitled “Pioneers of African-American Cinema.” The campaign met and exceeded this goal, raising a total of $53,717. The final release will include five discs, twelve feature films, a variety of short films and fragments, and a color booklet of photos and essays. All films will be newly mastered in high definition from film elements preserved by American film archives, including The Library of Congress, the National Archives, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive. Silent films will be accompanied by a variety of original music scores.

Pioneers of African-American Cinema will be curated by film historians Charles Musser and Jacqueline Najuma Stewart, and presented by executive producer DJ Spooky. The collection will include the works of Oscar Micheaux, Spencer Williams, and Richard D. Maurice as well as lesser-known filmmakers like Eloyce Gist, and rarely-seen footage shot by writer Zora Neale Hurston. It will also include a selection of “race films” made by white directors, such as Richard E. Norman and Frank Peregini. According to its developers, Pioneers of African-American Cinema will be the most comprehensive collection of early African-American cinema ever assembled. It will be released in February 2016, to coincide with the celebration of Black History Month.

Further details on the development of the project and the films to be included in the collection can be found here.

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Adam Matthew and BFI to Publish Socialist Propaganda Films

Adam Matthew and BFI to Publish Socialist Propaganda Films

In April, Adam Matthew Digital announced an agreement with the British Film Institute (BFI) to publish the Educational and Television Films (ETV) archive of producer and distributor Stanley Forman (1921-2013). Forman was a leading figure in the Communist Party of Great Britain and well-known for collecting and distributing rare footage from behind the “Iron Curtain.” He established ETV Films Ltd. in 1950 and donated the collection to the BFI after his retirement in 2002.

Forman’s considerable legacy encompasses: over thirteen thousand reels of film equaling in excess of 750 hours of footage; an estimated 7000 titles containing documentaries, feature films, and newsreel footage; a large collection of film footage from the Eastern Bloc, Chile, Cuba, Communist China, and the former Soviet Union; and materials on the 1917 Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, Nazi Germany, the Vietnam War, Chile, Afghanistan, and Arab Nations.

The majority of the collection includes previously unseen footage. The archive is currently being catalogued for release in 2017.

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8. ONLINE RESOURCES

Endangered Archive Program Celebrates Ten Years

Endangered Archive Program Celebrates Ten Years

The Endangered Archives Program from the British Library has seen over four million images from endangered archives all over the world digitized and put online. The program has been running since 2004 and has funded 246 projects in seventy-eight countries.

Among the vast collection of items that have been digitized are rock inscriptions, manuscripts, archival records, newspapers, photographs and sound archives. Some projects have seen the digitization of medieval manuscripts that date back to the twelfth century.

In celebration of the Program’s tenth birthday and of all the at-risk archives that have been preserved as a result, a new open-access title has been published. From Dust to Digital: Ten Years of the Endangered Archives Programme includes descriptions of nineteen notable projects that have enabled communities all over the world to digitize archives that might otherwise have been destroyed, neglected, or simply allowed to deteriorate.

Digital copies of all archives are available through the British Library, and of course institutions local to the individual projects. More information is available here and here.

[Above: Group Portrait of Men Sitting. Amir Behzadi Collection of Iranian Photographs (c1880-1941). EAP001: Faces and Places in Iran. Iranian photography at the turn of the 19th century]

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Northern Ireland Screen Launches Digital Film Archive

Northern Ireland Screen Launches Digital Film Archive


At the fifteenth Belfast Film Festival, Northern Ireland Screen unveiled the Digital Film Archive (DFA). The project was originally launched in November 2000 as part of the British Film Institute’s (BFI) Millennium Project. However, prior to 2001, the archive’s materials were only accessible at specific locations, museums, and libraries across Northern Ireland.

The DFA is a free public access resource containing over eighty hours of film footage spanning 100 years of Northern Irish history from 1897 to 2000. Items in the archive include drama, animation, documentaries, news, newsreels, wartime propaganda, amateur, and actuality films.

Further details can be found here and here.

[Above: image from Amharc Aneas (View From the South) (1959-1964), a four-part series produced by the Irish Language Broadcast Fund and available via the Digital Film Archive]

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UT Libraries Reveal Digital Collection of Regional Photos, Films

UT Libraries Reveal Digital Collection of Regional Photos, Films

In April, the University of Tennessee libraries revealed a new digital collection of photos and home movies of the Smokies taken in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s by a Tennessee businessman. The William Derris Collection includes 334 slides and twelve film clips.

William Derris, owner of the Derris Motel in Townsend, Tennessee, crisscrossed the Great Smoky Mountains by automobile, recording the people and scenery in both slides and silent film. He used the images and films to entertain and inform the guests at his motel. Derris’s images document landscapes, flora, wildlife, and people in and around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Approximately 4,400 slides and eight reels of 8mm film shot by Derris were donated to UT Libraries. The film footage was first digitized, and then excerpted to create shorter clips.

Chris Durman, librarian at UT’s George F. DeVine Music Library, selected several traditional folk songs to supplement the film clips and recruited local musicians to record the music. The songs are all traditional Southern Appalachian tunes that were played in the Great Smoky Mountains region, according to folk song collectors.

The William Derris Collection is the latest in a growing list of digital photograph collections created by The Great Smoky Mountains Regional Project, covering more than 100 years of life in the Smokies.

[Above: Margaret and Louisa Walker, 1956. The Walker sisters remained living in Little Greenbrier well after the formation of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. William Derris Collection, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, Libraries]

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9. TECHNOLOGY

Users Choose Their Own Adventure(s) at Toronto Silent Film Fest

Users Choose Their Own Adventure(s) at Toronto Silent Film Fest

In order to promote the Toronto Silent Film Festival (TSFF), the Red Lion agency developed an application that transformed Instagram into a choose-your-own-adventure silent film. By using clips from the seven silent films included in the festival, users could string together a short film based on a series of decisions. The application opened with a street fight scene and users were given the choice to call the cops or run away. In the scenes that followed, users were invited to choose between various options: Hide in a department store or a hospital? Go on a date or pretend to be sick?

 

This is the third year that the TSFF has used Instagram to spread the word about the festival. In 2013, the mobile app was turned into an old-timey film trailer using the platform’s slideshow function, and in 2014—to celebrate Charlie Chaplin’s centenary—Instagram was morphed into a multimedia time machine. Read more about the project

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Kodak Back in the News

Kodak Back in the News

In February, the Los Angeles Times reported on a finalized agreement between Kodak and the Hollywood studios that would allow the company to continue making photochemical film. In March, the New York Times reported on the steps that the company is taking to develop its portfolio beyond celluloid.

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"Archival News” reports recent news highlights from the media archive community for the Cinema Journal readership. Some information in this column comes courtesy of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (AMIA) listserv, along with institutional newsletters, websites, and press releases. This column is updated quarterly. Contributions to this column are welcomed. Information should be sent to Katherine Groo, Lecturer, Film and Visual Culture, School of Language and Literature, University of Aberdeen, Taylor Bldg. A, Aberdeen AB24 3UB, Scotland; phone +44 (0)1224-701590; email: k.groo@abdn.ac.uk.

Past issues of Archival News are located here.

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