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Archival News 56.2 (Winter 2017)
Edited by Katherine Groo


1. RESTORATION AND PRESERVATION

Post-Trump Donation Revives Restoration of ‘City without Jews’

Post-Trump Donation Revives Restoration of ‘City without Jews’

The City Without Jews (H. K. Breslauer, 1924), an Austrian film that predicted the Nazi persecution of Jews, will be digitally restored and re-released in Vienna for the first time since it was lost more than 90 years ago. Based on a novel by Hugo Bettauer, the movie tells the story of a city suffering from economic decline whose politicians push for the expulsion of the local Jewish population, only to watch the city descend further into ruin.

“The message we want to send out is that this is not just a film about the past, but an anti-Nazi statement,” said Nikolaus Wostry, director of collections at the Austrian Film Archive.

The organization told The Guardian that the campaign received a major donation from an anonymous American-Jewish foundation following Donald Trump’s win in the U.S. presidential election.

The movie was recently found by chance at a flea market in Paris and will be digitally restored and aired with a new live score thanks to a crowdfunding campaign by the AFA. The campaign raised nearly $80,000 in what is being called the most successful crowdfunding attempt ever in Austria’s culture sector.

Interestingly, the film was produced almost a decade before Adolf Hitler’s rise to power, while the Nazi party was still banned and Hitler was busy writing “Mein Kampf” in a Bavarian prison. Bettauer was murdered by a Nazi after the film’s release and the original footage disappeared during World War II.

Read more here and here.

[Above: Still image from City of Jews (H. K. Breslauer, 1924)]

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NBC Universal Gives 600 Prints to Toronto Film Fest for Preservation

NBC Universal Gives 600 Prints to Toronto Film Fest for Preservation

The Toronto International Film Festival has received 606 film collection prints from NBCUniversal to save from neglect or destruction as the major studios embrace digital projection. The donation includes includes 35mm prints of eleven Alfred Hitchcock titles; Tod Browning’s 1931 classic Dracula; Terry Gilliam’s Brazil (1985); and Spike Jonze’s Being John Malkovich (1999).

TIFF director and CEO Piers Handling explained that the festival’s film preservation team would review each print frame-by-frame to determine its condition. “After this process, we'll be able to determine which prints are in screening condition so we can show them in our cinemas at TIFF Bell Lightbox in the years to come,” he added.

TIFF also received three other print collections from Mongrel Media, Entertainment One/Les Films Séville, and Canadian filmmaker Peter Mettler to be similarly stored, revised, and archived. TIFF has launched a fundraising campaign to underwrite its film preservation.

Further details on the titles included in the donation and the preservation project can be found here.

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Snippet of ‘Think’ Discovered in 1964 Home Movie

Snippet of ‘Think’ Discovered in 1964 Home Movie

New York University graduate student Robert Anen discovered three minutes of Charles and Ray Eames’s multi-screen installation Think while interning at Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archives. Anen stumbled across the footage while watching a home movie, shot by Edward R. Feil, of the 1964 New York World’s Fair.

The find comes roughly four minutes into Mr. Feil’s home movie. A man stands in a spotlight in the distance, looking like the host of a variety show. The spotlight goes dark and moving images appear on panels on the wall.

“Think” was a film installation created for the World’s Fair, with different reels running on multiple screens at the same time. There were 22 screens, though not all came alive with motion-picture footage; some merely showed still images from slides. “Think” offered a vision of how computers process data; at the time, Charles and Ray Eames worked with Eero Saarinen’s architecture firm on the IBM Pavilion at the fair.

Mr. Anen realized what he was seeing because of a field trip he had taken in the spring. He and other students from N.Y.U.’s graduate program in moving image archiving and preservation had spent a week at the Library of Congress’s National Audio-Visual Conservation Center in Culpeper, Va. The film preservationists there had been working on reconstructing Think, and Mr. Anen remembered hearing them say they had footage from a modified version presented in 1965, but not from the 1964 version.

Further details on the discovery, the original film, and its restoration are available from the NYTimes.

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2. INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

Largest Audio-Visual Archive Opens in Switzerland

Largest Audio-Visual Archive Opens in Switzerland

The world’s largest audiovisual library has opened at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland. Housed in Kengo Kuma’s angular new campus building, right next door to the Montreux Jazz Café, the Jazz Heritage Lab consists of the largest collection of live audiovisual recordings in the world. The collection places a special emphasis on jazz and has earned a place on the UNESCO “Memory of the World” register. 

All 5,000 hours of audiovisual recordings were made at the Montreux Jazz Festival over the last 50 years. The festival has hosted the genre’s most renowned performers, from Ella Fitzgerald and Miles Davis to contemporary artists like Marcus Miller and Mac Demarco.

Visitors experience the collection through a “double-curved” central screen. LED-lit partitions flash with information and statistics from the concert on display, while semi-transparent outer walls offer views towards the Montreux Jazz Café.

Further details on the development of the lab and its collection are available here.

[Above: Image of the Jazz Heritage Lab]

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BFI Releases Five-Year Plan on Brexit, Diversity

BFI Releases Five-Year Plan on Brexit, Diversity

The British Film Institute has unveiled a strategic plan to invest £500 million (US$620 million) into the UK film industry over the next five years. During an event in Birmingham at the end of November, BFI chair Josh Berger and CEO Amanda Nevill explained that the plan, dubbed BFI2022, will partly focus on increasing in-house expertise to better position the industry during the country’s Brexit negotiations to leave the European Union.

Building on the BFI’s Film Forever plan, the 2017-2022 strategy’s other primary goals include shifting focus to fund more filmmaking not necessarily destined for theatrical releases, and aspire to greater diversity on screen and behind the scenes by pushing producers to adopt voluntary diversity standards.

The BFI will devolve 25% of all production to decision makers outside the capital to support emerging filmmakers across the UK. This will include placing a regional network of talent executives in key cultural venues and piloting a £10 million Enterprise Fund to provide repayable working capital for innovative projects in smaller shops working across the screen industries outside London.

Though feature film remains core to the BFI mission, the organization is looking to use National Lottery funds to back more episodic, hour-long and other non-feature work including animation, digital work and interactive work. It will also introduce a new model to fully finance low-budget projects and debut films, as well as support for distributors for these types of projects. The BFI will also digitize at least 100,000 hours of “at-risk” British TV shows.

Regarding diversity, the BFI will build on current initiatives such as the BFI Diversity Standards and public programs Black Star and Black Britain on Film by launching 10-year skills building strategies for people of all backgrounds.

The organization is also creating a manifesto for film in the classroom and launching a searchable, interactive database of British feature films.

Read more here and here.

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3. EXHIBITIONS

Deutsche Kinematek Welcomes Refugees, Programs for the Displaced

Deutsche Kinematek Welcomes Refugees, Programs for the Displaced

At the end of 2016, the Deutsche Kinemathek – Museum für Film und Fernsehen affirmed its commitment to programming for people with refugee backgrounds and making the museum exhibitions and events accessible to them. In addition to movie nights, which are screened for residents at diverse Berlin housing facilities, refugee groups can also visit the museum free of charge. Moreover, under the initiative “Berlin Mondiale,” the Deutsche Kinemathek has been participating in the organization of specially-designed educational offers for children and young adults.

More details can be found here.

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4. AWARDS

Northeast Historic Film Receives CLIR Grant to Digitize Movies Made by Women

Northeast Historic Film Receives CLIR Grant to Digitize Movies Made by Women

Northeast Historic Film (NHF) has received a $322,000 grant from the Council on Library and Information resources, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The project funded by the grant, entitled “The Woman Behind the Camera: Home Movies and Amateur Film by Women, 1925-1997,” aims to digitize home movies and amateur film and video made by women in the twentieth century, and to make this material accessible online and to researchers.  

The grant will be shared among NHF and its co-collaborators, the Chicago Film Archives (CFA) and the Lesbian Home Movie Project (LHMP). The Woman Behind the Camera project includes fifty-eight collections of film and video shot by women filmmakers, and represents over 300 hours of unique footage. NHF and its partners will digitize and describe the material, make digital copies available for viewing online, and provide information for those interested in learning more about the films and the filmmakers who made them. The digital copies will be shared via a project website, with links back to the original holding institution for more information. 

The project is an important effort to highlight these women-made films, and to challenge the notion that women were simply the subjects of home movies and amateur film, rather than filmmakers themselves. The films nominated for digitization, each created by a female amateur filmmaker active in the twentieth century, are diverse in subject matter and provenance. They document families and friends and include the travels, home lives, interests, and some significant moments in each woman’s history.

For more details on the collection, see here.

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George Eastman House Receives NEA Grant; Trump Admin Targets NEA

George Eastman House Receives NEA Grant; Trump Admin Targets NEA

The George Eastman Museum received a grant award of $20,000 from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Art Works program to preserve two 35mm nitrate film prints: The Rich and the Poor (American Film Manufacturing Co., US 1911) and The Inevitable Retribution (Biograph, US 1915). The NEA announced awards totaling more than $30 million as part of its first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2017.

The focus of the museum’s project To Have and Have Not: Social Issues in Early American Independent Cinema, 1911–1917 is the preservation of these two endangered film prints made by early independent motion picture production companies (both of which ceased operations once the Hollywood studio system took off in the 1920s).

“These films are an important part of our history, particularly as it relates to social issues in the early 20th century, and without proper care, they would be lost to future generations,” said Paolo Cherchi Usai, senior curator, Moving Image Department, George Eastman Museum. “This grant will allow us to preserve these prints in both 35mm and digital formats, which will ensure the reintroduction of these lost works to the public, film historians, researchers, and archivists for many years to come.”

Read more about the grant here.

Early reports on the Trump administration’s budget cuts suggest that the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities may be eliminated. You can read more here and here, sign a petition here, and contact representatives here.

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Cinematic Treasures Named to US National Film Registry

Cinematic Treasures Named to US National Film Registry

In December, the Librarian of Congress, Carla Hayden, announced the annual selection of motion pictures to join the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Spanning the period 1903 to 1998, the films named to this year’s registry include Hollywood blockbusters, documentaries, silent movies, animation, shorts, independent, and experimental motion pictures. This year’s titles range from the Disney animated blockbuster The Lion King (Roger Allers and Rob Minkoff, 1994) and the seminal coming-of-age drama The Breakfast Club (John Hughes, 1985) to the 1990 documentary Paris Is Burning (Jennie Livingston), chronicling the pageantry of drag balls in New York City, and a collection of home movies showcasing African-American life in Oklahoma during the 1920s. The 2016 selections bring the number of films in the registry to 700, which is a small fraction of the Library’s vast moving-image collection of 1.3 million items. The complete list of selections can be found here.

Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names twenty-five films to the National Film Registry that are “culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. The films must be at least 10 years old. The Librarian makes the annual registry selections after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public and conferring with Library film curators and the distinguished members of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB). The public is urged to make nominations for next year’s registry at the NFPB’s website.

For each title named to the registry, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation works to ensure that the film is preserved for future generations, either through the Library’s motion-picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios, and independent filmmakers.

[Above: Still from Paris is Burning (Jennie Livingston, 1990)]

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5. ONLINE RESOURCES

NFPF Releases Treasures Online

NFPF Releases Treasures Online

In December, the National Film Preservation Foundation, the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to save America’s film heritage, announced the online release of forty-seven films from its first groundbreaking DVD box set, Treasures from American Film Archives. The collection is now freely available for viewing on the NFPF website. The films range from the first publicly exhibited movie to cutting-edge avant-garde works and also include silent-era features, pioneering special-effects, landmark independent productions, documentaries, newsreels, animation, political ads, and home movies made from coast to coast.

Originally released in 2000, Treasures from American Film Archives marked the first time ever that America's archives had joined forces to share their films with home video audiences. The project was made possible through funding from the National Endowment for the Arts and The Pew Charitable Trusts. The eleven-hour collection showcases the range of American films that survive today thanks to the efforts of the participating archives: Academy Film Archive, Alaska Film Archives, Anthology Film Archives, George Eastman Museum, Japanese American National Museum, Library of Congress, Minnesota Historical Society, Museum of Modern Art, National Archives and Records Administration, National Center for Jewish Film, New York Public Library, Northeast Historic Film, Pacific Film Archive, Smithsonian Institution, UCLA Film & Television Archive, and West Virginia State Archives.

Read more about the collection here. Access the films here.

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Internet Archive Launches Trump Archive

Internet Archive Launches Trump Archive

In January, the Internet Archive launched an archive dedicated to Donald Trump. The archive includes 700+ televised speeches, interviews, debates, and other news broadcasts related to Donald Trump. The materials were gathered together was using the Internet Archive’s TV News Archive.

 

The growing collection is a work in progress that currently includes more than 520 hours of Trump video. The earliest excerpt dates from December 2009, and the collection continues through the present. It includes more than 500 video statements fact checked by FactCheck.orgPolitiFact, and The Washington Post’s Fact Checker covering such controversial topics as immigrationTrump’s tax returnsHillary Clinton’s emails, and health care.

 

Read more here and donate to support the Internet Archive here.

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AAPB Hosts Online Exhibit of American Protest and Civil Disobedience

AAPB Hosts Online Exhibit of American Protest and Civil Disobedience

The American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), a collaboration between Boston-based public broadcaster WGBH and the Library of Congress, has launched a new online exhibit on the right to speak, assemble, and petition. “Speaking and Protesting in America” explores the role of dissent in American life through archived media, ranging from peaceful marches to acts of civil disobedience from the 1950s to the 2000s.

The exhibit is available here.

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6. TECHNOLOGY

Libraries, Archives Respond to Threat of Trump Era

Libraries, Archives Respond to Threat of Trump Era

According to The Guardian, public and private libraries are reacting swiftly to the election of Donald Trump, promising to destroy user information before it can be used against readers and backing up data abroad. The New York Public Library (NYPL), for example, assures users that it will not retain data any longer than is necessary.

 

Meanwhile the digital library Archive.org, which keeps a searchable database of public websites, announced that it would create a new Canada-based backup of its huge information repository in order to respond to the increased threat of invisible government scrutiny. The group’s services include the Internet Archive and a search engine cataloguing it, called the Wayback Machine.

 

Archive’s director of partnerships, Wendy Hanamura, said the decision had been a sober one. “We didn’t pick Canada out of a hat,” she said. “Law in Canada has shifted recently, making it a really great place for libraries to experiment.”

“Even before the election we had made the decision to host at least Canadian materials in Canada,” Kahle said. “They have rigorous privacy rules because they don’t particularly like patients’ privacy information going to the United States.” The response to the fundraising campaign had been overwhelming, he said.

 

The Wayback Machine is a popular tool among journalists; one of its key features is the ability to see what changes were made to a given website and when exactly those changes were made. The project automatically captures some 300m web pages every week and devotes some of its resources to splitting its archived material into collections of similar material, such as political ads and books in the public domain.

 

In January, the Internet Archive also announced a Chrome browser extension tool that would allow individuals to mark a webpage for preservation by the Wayback Machine. Read more here and find the tool here.

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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, Film and Media Studies, Lafayette College, 248 N. 3rd St, Room 107, Easton, PA 18042; phone: (610) 330-3219; email: grook@lafayette.edu

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