Archival News 51:2
Edited by Jennifer Peterson
TABLE OF CONTENTS
2. Institutions and Organizations
3. New DVDs
4. On-Line Resources
• 2011 National Film Registry Titles Announced
On December 28, 2011, Librarian of Congress James H. Billington named 25 motion pictures to be preserved as cultural, artistic and historical treasures in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Spanning the period 1912-1994, the films named to the registry include Hollywood classics, documentaries, animation, home movies, avant-garde shorts and experimental motion pictures. Representing the rich creative and cultural diversity of the American cinematic experience, the selections range from Walt Disney’s timeless classicBambiand Billy Wilder’sThe Lost Weekend, a landmark film about the devastating effects of alcoholism, to a real-life drama between a U.S. president and a governor over the desegregation of the University of Alabama. The selections also include home movies of the famous Nicholas Brothers dancing team and such avant-garde films as George Kuchar’s hilarious shortI, an Actress. This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 575.
Under the terms of the National Film Preservation Act, each year the Librarian of Congress names 25 films to the National Film Registry that are "culturally, historically or aesthetically” significant. Annual selections to the registry are finalized by the Librarian after reviewing hundreds of titles nominated by the public (this year 2,228 films were nominated) 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 NFPB’s website (www. loc.gov/film).
In other news about the registry,These Amazing Shadows, a documentary about the National Film Registry, aired nationally on the award-winning PBS series "Independent Lens” on December 29. Written and directed by Paul Mariano and Kurt Norton, this critically acclaimed documentary has also been released on DVD and Blu-ray and is available through the Library of Congress Shop (www.loc.gov/shop/).
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 massive motion-picture preservation program or through collaborative ventures with other archives, motion-picture studios and independent filmmakers. The Packard Campus is a state-of-the-art facility where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of films, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (www.loc.gov/avconservation/). The Packard Campus is home to more than six million collection items, including nearly three million sound recordings. It provides staff support for the Library of Congress National Film Preservation Board, the National Recording Preservation Board and the National Registries for film and recorded sound.
Founded in 1800, the Library of Congress is the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution. It seeks to spark imagination and creativity and to further human understanding and wisdom by providing access to knowledge through its magnificent collections, programs and exhibitions. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.govand via interactive exhibitions on a personalized website at myLOC.gov.
Included on the list for 2011 were the following films:
Called the master of "cosmic cinema,” Jordan Belson excelled in creating abstract imagery with a spiritual dimension that featured dazzling displays of color, light, and ever-moving patterns and objects. Trained as a painter and profoundly influenced by the artist and theorist Wassily Kandinsky, Belson collaborated in the late 1950s with electronic music composer Henry Jacobs to create elaborate sound and light shows in the San Francisco Morrison Planetarium, an experience that informed his subsequent films. The film, Belson has stated, "was probably the space-iest film that had been done until then. It creates a feeling of moving into the void.” Inspired by Eastern spiritual thought,Allures(which took a year and a half to make) is, Belson suggests, a mathematically precise” work intended to express the process of becoming that the philosopher Teilhard de Chardin has named "cosmogenesis.”
One of Walt Disney’s timeless classics (and his own personal favorite), this animated coming-of-age tale of a wide-eyed fawn’s life in the forest has enchanted generations since its debut nearly 70 years ago. Filled with iconic characters and moments, the film features beautiful images that were the result of extensive nature studies by Disney’s animators. Its realistic characters capture human and animal qualities in the time-honored tradition of folklore and fable, which enhance the movie’s resonating, emotional power. Treasured as one of film’s most heart-rending stories of parental love,Bambialso has come to be recognized for its eloquent message of nature conservation.
The Big Heat (1953)
One of the great post-war noir films,The Big Heatstars Glenn Ford, Lee Marvin and Gloria Graham. Set in a fictional American town,The Big Heattells the story of a tough cop (Ford) who takes on a local crime syndicate, exposing tensions within his own corrupt police department as well as insecurities and hypocrisies of domestic life in the 1950s. Filled with atmosphere, fascinating female characters, and a jolting—yet not gratuitous—degree of violence,The Big Heat, through its subtly expressive technique and resistance to formulaic denouement, manages to be both stylized and brutally realistic, a signature of its director Fritz Lang.
A Computer Animated Hand (1972)
Ed Catmull, co-founder of Pixar Animation Studios, renowned for its CGI (computer generated image) animated films, created a program for digitally animating a human hand in 1972 as a graduate student project, one of the earliest examples of 3D computer animation. The one-minute film displays the hand turning, opening and closing, pointing at the viewer, and flexing its fingers, ending with a shot that seemingly travels up inside the hand. In creating the film, which was incorporated into the 1976 filmFutureworld, Catmull worked out concepts that become the foundation for computer graphics that followed.
Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment (1963)
Robert Drew was a pioneer of American cinema-verite (a style of documentary filmmaking that strives to record unfolding events non-intrusively). In 1963, he gathered together a stellar group of filmmakers, including D. A. Pennebaker, Richard Leacock, Gregory Shuker, James Lipscomb, and Patricia Powell, to capture on film the dramatic unfolding of an ideological crisis, one that revealed political decision-making at the highest levels. The result,Crisis: Behind a Presidential Commitment, focuses on Gov. George Wallace’s attempt to prevent two African-American students from enrolling in the University of Alabama—his infamous "stand in the schoolhouse door” confrontation—and the response of President John F. Kennedy. The filmmakers observe the crisis evolve by following a number of participants, including Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy, Gov. Wallace and the two students, Vivian Malone and James Hood. The film also shows deliberations between the president and his staff that led to a peaceful resolution, a decision by the president to deliver a major address on civil rights and a commitment by Wallace to continue his battle in subsequent national election campaigns. The film has proven to be a uniquely revealing complement to written histories of the period, providing viewers the rare opportunity to witness historical events from an insider’s perspective.
The Cry of the Children (1912)
Recognized as a key work that both reflected and contributed to the pre-World War I child labor reform movement, the two-reel silent melodramaThe Cry of the Childrentakes its title and fatalistic, uncompromising tone of hopelessness from the 1842 poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.The Cry of the Childrenwas part of a wave of "social problem” films released during the 1910s on such subjects as drugs and alcohol, white slavery, immigrants and women’s suffrage. Some were sensationalist attempts to exploit lurid topics, while others, likeThe Cry of the Children, were realistic exposés that championed social reform and demanded change. Shot partially in a working textile factory,The Cry of the Childrenwas recognized by an influential critic of the time as "The boldest, most timely and most effective appeal for the stamping out of the cruelest of all social abuses.”
A Cure for Pokeritis (1912)
Largely forgotten today, actor John Bunny merits significant historical importance as the American film industry’s earliest comic superstar. A stage actor prior to the start of his film career, Bunny starred in over 150 Vitagraph Company productions from 1910 until his death in 1915. Many of his films (affectionately known as "Bunnygraphs”) were gentle "domestic” comedies, in which he portrayed a henpecked husband alongside co-star Flora Finch.A Cure for Pokeritisexemplifies the genre, as Finch conspires with similarly displeased wives to break up their husbands’ weekly poker game. When Bunny died in 1915, a New York Times editorial noted that "Thousands who had never heard him speak…recognized him as the living symbol of wholesome merriment.” The paper presciently commented on the importance of preserving motion pictures and sound recordings for future generations: "His loss will be felt all over the country, and the films, which preserve his humorous personality in action, may in time have a new value. It is a subject worthy of reflection, the value of a perfect record of a departed singer’s voice, of the photographic films perpetuating the drolleries of a comedian who developed such extraordinary capacity for acting before the camera.”
El Mariachi (1992)
Directed, edited, co-produced, and written in two weeks by Robert Rodriguez for $7,000 while a film student at the University of Texas,El Mariachiproved a favorite on the film festival circuit. After Columbia Pictures picked it up for distribution, the film helped usher in the independent movie boom of the early 1990s.El Mariachiis an energetic, highly entertaining tale of an itinerant musician, portrayed by co-producer and Rodriguez crony Carlos Gallardo, who arrives at a Mexican border town during a drug war and is mistaken for a hit man who recently escaped from prison. The story, as film historian Charles Ramirez Berg has suggested, plays with expectations common to two popular exploitation genres—the narcotraficante film, a Mexican police genre, and the transnational warrior-action film, itself rooted in Hollywood Westerns. Rodriguez’s success derived from invigorating these genres with creative variants despite the constraints of a shoestring budget. Rodriguez has gone on to direct films for major studios, becoming, in Berg’s estimation, "arguably the most successful Latino director ever to work in Hollywood.”
Writer-director John Cassavetes describedFaces, considered by many to be his first mature work, as "a barrage of attack on contemporary middle-class America.” The film depicts a married couple, "safe in their suburban home, narrow in their thinking,” he wrote, who experience a break up that "releases them from the conformity of their existence, forces them into a different context, when all barriers are down.” An example of cinematic excess,Facesplaces its viewers inside intense lengthy scenes to allow them to discover within its relentless confrontations emotions and relations of power between men and women that rarely emerge in more conventionally structured films. In provoking remarkable performances by Lynn Carlin, John Marley and Gena Rowlands, Cassavetes has created a style of independent filmmaking that has inspired filmmakers around the world.
Fake Fruit Factory (1986)
An expressive, sympathetic look at the everyday lives of young Mexican women who create ornamental papier măché fruits and vegetables,Fake Fruit Factoryexemplifies filmmaker Chick Strand’s unique style that deftly blends documentary, avant-garde and ethnographic techniques. After studying anthropology and ethnographic film at the University of California, Strand, who helped noted independent filmmaker Bruce Baillie create the independent film distribution cooperative Canyon Cinema, taught filmmaking for 24 years at Occidental College. She developed a collagist process to create her films, shooting footage of people she encountered over several decades of annual summer stays in Mexico and then editing together individual films. InFake Fruit Factory, Strand employs a moving camera at close range to create colorfully vivid images often verging on abstraction, while her soundtrack picks up snatches of conversation to evoke, in her words, "the spirit of the people.” "I want to know,” Strand wrote, "really what it is like to be a breathing, talking, moving, emotional, relating individual in the society.”
Forrest Gump (1994)
As "Forrest Gump,” Tom Hanks portrays an earnest, guileless "everyman” whose open-heartedness and sense of the unexpected unwittingly draws him into some of the most iconic events of the 1960s and 1970s. A smash hit,Forrest Gumphas been honored for its technological innovations (the digital insertion of Gump seamlessly into vintage archival footage), its resonance within the culture that has elevated Gump (and what he represents in terms of American innocence) to the status of folk hero, and its attempt to engage both playfully and seriously with contentious aspects of the era’s traumatic history. The film received six Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
Growing Up Female (1971)
Among the first films to emerge from the women’s liberation movement,Growing Up Femaleis a documentary portrait of America on the brink of profound change in its attitudes toward women. Filmed in spring 1970 by Ohio college students Julia Reichert and Jim Klein,Growing Up Femalefocuses on six girls and women aged 4 to 34 and the home, school, work and advertising environments that have impacted their identities. Through open-ended interviews and lyrical documentation of their surroundings, the film strived, in Reichert’s words, to "give women a new lens through which to see their own lives.” Widely distributed to libraries, universities, churches and youth groups, the film launched a cooperative of female filmmakers that bypassed traditional distribution mechanisms to get its message communicated.
Hester Street (1975)
Joan Micklin Silver’s first feature-length film,Hester Street, was an adaption of preeminent Yiddish author Abraham Cahan’s 1896 well-received first novelYekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto. In the 1975 film, the writer-director brought to the screen a portrait of Eastern European Jewish life in America that historians have praised for its accuracy of detail and sensitivity to the challenges immigrants faced during their acculturation process. Shot in black-and-white and partly in Yiddish with English subtitles, the independent production, financed with money raised by the filmmaker’s husband, was shunned by Hollywood until it established a reputation at the Cannes Film Festival and in European markets.Hester Streetfocuses on stresses that occur when a "greenhorn” wife, played by Carol Kane (nominated for an Academy Award for her portrayal), and her young son arrive in New York to join her Americanized husband. Silver, one of the first women directors of American features to emerge during the women’s liberation movement, shifted the story’s emphasis from the husband, as in the novel, to the wife. Historian Joyce Antler has written admiringly, "In indicating the hardships experienced by women and their resiliency, as well as the deep strains assimilation posed to masculinity, ‘Hester Street’ touches on a fundamental cultural challenge confronting immigrants.”
I, an Actress (1977)
Underground filmmaker George Kuchar and his twin brother Mike began making 8mm films as 12-year-old kids in the Bronx, often on their family’s apartment rooftop. Before his death in 2011, George created over 200 outlandish low-budget films filled with absurdist melodrama, crazed dialogue and plots, and affection for Hollywood film conventions and genres. A professor at the San Francisco Art Institute, Kuchar documented his directing techniques in the hilariousI, an Actressas he encourages an acting student to embellish a melodramatic monologue with increasingly excessive gestures and emotions. Like most of Kuchar’s films,I, an Actressembodies a "camp” sensibility, defined by the cultural critic Susan Sontag as deriving from an aesthetics that valorizes not beauty but "love of the unnatural: of artifice and exaggeration.” Filmmaker John Waters has cited the Kuchars as "my first inspiration” and credited them with giving him "the self-confidence to believe in my own tawdry vision.”
The Iron Horse (1924)
John Ford’s epic WesternThe Iron Horseestablished his reputation as one of Hollywood’s most accomplished directors. Intended by Fox studios to rival Paramount’s 1923 epicThe Covered Wagon, Ford’s film employed more than 5,000 extras, advertised authenticity in its attention to realistic detail, and provided him with the opportunity to create iconic visual images of the Old West, inspired by such master painters as Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. A tale of national unity achieved after the Civil War through the construction of the transcontinental railroad,The Iron Horsecelebrated the contributions of Irish, Italian and Chinese immigrants although the number of immigrants allowed to enter the country legally was severely restricted at the time of its production. A classic silent film,The Iron Horseintroduced to American and world audiences a reverential, elegiac mythology that has influenced many subsequent Westerns.
The Kid (1921)
Charles Chaplin’s first full-length feature, the silent classicThe Kid, is an artful melding of touching drama, social commentary and inventive comedy. The tale of a foundling (Jackie Coogan, soon to be a major child star) taken in by the Little Tramp,The Kidrepresents a high point in Chaplin’s evolving cinematic style, proving he could sustain his artistry beyond the length of his usual short subjects and could deftly elicit a variety of emotions from his audiences by skillfully blending slapstick and pathos.
The Lost Weekend (1945)
A landmark social-problem film,The Lost Weekendprovided audiences of 1945 with an uncompromising look at the devastating effects of alcoholism. Directed by Billy Wilder and co-written by Wilder and Charles Brackett, the film melded an expressionistic film-noir style with documentary realism to immerse viewers in the harrowing experiences of an aspiring New York writer willing to do almost anything for a drink. Despite opposition from his studio, the Hays Office and the liquor industry, Wilder created a film ranked as one of the best of the decade that won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Direction, Screenplay and Actor (Ray Milland), and established him as one of America’s leading filmmakers.
The Negro Soldier (1944)
Produced by Frank Capra’s renowned World War II U.S. Army filming unit,The Negro Soldiershowcased the contributions of blacks to American society and their heroism in the nation’s wars, portraying them in a dignified, realistic, and far less stereotypical manner than they had been depicted in previous Hollywood films. Considered by film historian Thomas Cripps as "a watershed in the use of film to promote racial tolerance,”The Negro Soldierwas produced in reaction to instances of discrimination against African-Americans stationed in the South. Written by Carlton Moss, a young black writer for radio and the Federal Theatre Project, directed by Stuart Heisler, and scored by Dmitri Tiomkin, the film highlights the role of the church in the black community and charts the progress of a black soldier through basic training and officer’s candidate school before he enters into combat. It became mandatory viewing for all soldiers in American replacement centers from spring 1944 until the war’s end.
Nicholas Brothers Family Home Movies (1930s-1940s)
Fayard and Harold Nicholas, renowned for their innovative and exuberant dance routines, began in vaudeville in the late 1920s before headlining at the Cotton Club in Harlem, starring on Broadway and performing in Hollywood films. Fred Astaire is reported to have called their dance sequence inStormy Weather(1943) the greatest movie musical number he had ever seen. Their home movies capture a golden age of show business—with extraordinary footage of Broadway, Harlem and Hollywood—and also document the middle-class African-American life of that era, images made rare by the considerable cost of home-movie equipment during the Great Depression. Highlights include the only footage shot inside the Cotton Club, the only footage of famous Broadway shows likeBabes in Arms, home movies of an all African-American regiment during World War II, films of street life in Harlem in the 1930s, and the family’s cross-country tour in 1934.
Norma Rae (1979)
Highlighted by Sally Field’s Oscar-winning performance,Norma Raeis the tale of an unlikely activist. A poorly-educated single mother, Norma Rae Webster works at a Southern textile mill where her attempt to improve working conditions through unionization, though undermined by her factory bosses, ultimately succeeds after her courageous stand on the factory floor wins the support of her co-workers. The film is less a polemical pro-union statement than a treatise about maturation, personal willpower, fairness and the empowerment of women. Directed by Martin Ritt,Norma Raewas based on the real-life efforts of Crystal Lee Sutton to unionize the J. P. Stevens Mills in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., which finally agreed to allow union representation one year after the film’s release.
Porgy and Bess (1959)
Composer George Gershwin considered his masterpiecePorgy and Bess” to be a "folk opera.” Gershwin’s score reflected traditional songs he encountered in visits to Charleston, S.C., and in Gullah revival meetings he attended on nearby James Island. Controversy has stalked the production history of the opera that Gershwin created with DuBose Heyward, who had written the original novel and play (with his wife Dorothy) and penned lyrics with Gershwin’s brother Ira. The lavish film version was produced in the late 1950s as the civil rights movement gained momentum and a number of African-American actors turned down roles they considered demeaning. Harry Belafonte, who refused the part of Porgy, explained, "in this period of our social development, I doubt that it is healthy to expose certain images of the Negro. In a period of calm, perhaps this picture could be viewed historically.” Dissension also resulted when producer Samuel Goldwyn dismissed Rouben Mamoulian, who had directed the play and musical on Broadway, and replaced him with Otto Preminger. Produced in Todd-AO, a state-of-the-art widescreen and stereophonic sound recording process, with an all-star cast that included Sidney Poitier, Dorothy Dandridge, Sammy Davis, Jr., Pearl Bailey and Diahann Carroll,Porgy and Bess, now considered an "overlooked masterpiece” by one contemporary scholar, rarely has been screened in the ensuing years.
The Silence of the Lambs (1991)
Jodie Foster, Sir Anthony Hopkins and director Jonathan Demme won accolades for this chilling thriller based upon a book by Thomas Harris. Foster plays rookie FBI agent Clarice Starling who must tap into the disturbed mind of imprisoned cannibalistic serial killer Hannibal Lecter in order to aid her search for a murderer and torturer still at large. A film whose violence is as much psychological as graphic,Silence of the Lambs—winner of Academy Awards for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress and Adapted Screenplay—has been celebrated for its superb lead performances, its blending of crime and horror genres, and its taut direction that brought to the screen one of film’s greatest villains and some of its most memorable imagery.
Stand and Deliver (1988)
Based on a true story,Stand and Deliverstars Edward James Olmos in an Oscar-nominated performance as crusading educator Jaime Escalante. A math teacher in East Los Angeles, Ca., Escalante inspired his underprivileged students to undertake an intensive program in calculus, achieve high test scores, and improve their sense of self-worth. Co-produced by Olmos and directed by Cuban-born Ramón Menéndez,Stand and Deliverbecame one of the most popular of a new wave of narrative feature films produced in the 1980s by Latino filmmakers. The film celebrates in a direct, approachable, and impactful way, values of self-betterment through hard work and power through knowledge.
Twentieth Century (1934)
A satire on the theatrical milieu and its oversized egos,Twentieth Centurymarked the first of director Howard Hawks’ frenetic comedies that had leading actors of the day "make damn fools of themselves.” In Hawks’ words, the genre became affectionately known as "screwball comedy.” Hawks had writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, who penned the original play, craft dialogue scenes in which lines overlapped as in ordinary conversations, but still remained understandable, a style he continued in later films. This sophisticated farce about the tempestuous romance of an egocentric impresario and the star he creates did not fare well on its release, but has come to be recognized as one of the era’s finest film comedies, one that gave John Barrymore his last great film role and Carole Lombard her first.
War of the Worlds (1953)
Released at the height of cold-war hysteria, producer George Pal’s lavishly-designed take on H. G. Wells’ 1898 novel of alien invasion was provocatively transplanted from Victorian England to a mid-20th-century Southern California small town in this 1953 film version. Capitalizing on the apocalyptic paranoia of the atomic age, Barré Lyndon’s screenplay wryly replaces Wells’ original commentary on the British class system with religious metaphor. Directed by Byron Haskin, formerly a special effects cameraman, the critically and commercially successful film chronicles an apparent meteor crash discovered by a local scientist (Gene Barry) that turns out to be a Martian spacecraft. Gordon Jennings, who died shortly before the film’s release, avoided stereotypical flying saucer-style creations in his Academy Award-winning special effects described by reviewers as soul-chilling, hackle-raising and not for the faint of heart.
• National Film Preservation Awards 22 Preservation Grants
Director John Carpenter’s first student film at USC and a 1925 newsreel portrait of the celebrated Buffalo Soldier regiment at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, the African American 10th Cavalry Unit, are two of the 28 films slated for saving, thanks to grants announced on October 26, 2011 by The National Film Preservation Foundation. Awards went to 22 institutions.
Among the other works slated for preservation are home movies from opening day at Walt Disney World; a 1915 documentary showing how money was printed at the American Bank Note Company; two Chuck Olin films about Chicago;Uksuum Cauyai: The Drums of Winter, a National Film Registry documentary about the Yup’ik people of Emmonak, Alaska;A Weave of Time, a portrait of four generations of a Navajo family; a film inspired by the Hal RoachOur Gangseries shot in Madison, Wisconsin; home movies from African American jazz musician Marie Dickerson Coker showing post-Pearl Harbor Honolulu; and two films by artist Peggy Ahwesh. For a full list, visit www.filmpreservation.org.
The NFPF preservation grants target newsreels, silent-era films, documentaries, culturally important home movies, avant-garde films, and endangered independent productions that fall under the radar of commercial preservation programs. The awards provide support to create a film preservation master and two access copies of each work. Films saved through the NFPF programs are made available to the public for on-site research and are seen widely through screenings, exhibits, DVDs, television broadcasts, and the Internet.
Since it was created by Congress in 1996, the NFPF has provided preservation support to 239 institutions and saved more than 1,850 films and collections through grants and collaborative projects. The NFPF also produces the award-winningTreasures from American Film ArchivesDVD series, which makes available rare films preserved by public and nonprofit archives that have not been commercially distributed. The NFPF receives federal money through the Library of Congress to distribute as grants but raises all operating and project funding from other sources.
The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. The NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. For the complete list of projects supported by the NFPF, visit the NFPF Web site: www.filmpreservation.org.
2.INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS
•Indiana University Libraries Film Archive Now Open
In 2010, the Indiana University Libraries Film Archive was established as an archive for all Library-held moving image formats. With the establishment of the Archive, the University made a major commitment to preservation of all film-related materials by conducting a thorough survey of all time-based media held by the University and providing dedicated facilities for preservation and storage, full-time staff, and a partnering exhibition space at the IU Cinema.
The Film Archive is now open for research and educational purposes. Visit the Archive’s main page for more information: www.libraries.iub.edu/index.php?pageId=1002886. Some of the films have been digitized and can be viewed on the Archive’s streaming website at www.libdev.iub.edu/index.php?pageId=1002114. Another 220 streaming films will be added within the next few months. For now, check out the some of the streamed films including a 1943 IU Goes to War, a 1953 Your Daughter at I.U. and appearances by silent film stars in some of David Bradley’s New Year’s Eve home movies. Bibliographic records for over 33,000 Educational films and for all of the films in the Bradley collection films are now searchable in the online catalog, IUCAT.
For most successful searching results, follow guidelines from the Access page at: www.libdev.iub.edu/index.php?pageId=1002115. There will be a grand opening for the Indiana University Libraries Film Archive in Spring 2012. In the meantime, check out the Indiana University Libraries Film Archive blog at http://iulfilmarchive.wordpress.com/.
Indiana University has a strong history in film production, distribution and acquisition. The University has been acquiring motion picture film since the 1930s and served as one of the leading film distribution centers of classroom films from the 1930s through the 2000s. In 2006, these educational film collections were transferred from the distribution unit of the University to the Libraries and this important, historic collection is now part of the Libraries’ rich archival holdings.
Other Library units with strong film holdings include the Lilly Library, which has been purchasing and accepting film and paper collections from important individual filmmakers, collectors and other professionals in the field of motion picture film production for many decades, and the University Archives, which has collected thousands of University related moving image collections since the 1940s.
The Archives are home to a diverse collection of materials ranging from personal collections of filmmakers and collectors, to a large number of educational films that were rented to schools, libraries, and colleges across the country from shortly after WW2 until the end of the century. The Indiana University Libraries Film Archive collections include The Lilly Library’s holdings of the personal collections of filmmakers Orson Welles, John Ford and Peter Bogdanovich; the Lilly Library's Bradley Film Collection, one of the most comprehensive film collections ever assembled by an individual collector, consisting of 3,964 16mm films; the Indiana University Libraries' educational collection, containing over 46,000 titles and dates from before WW2 (the 16mm educational collection served for many decades as one of the largest distributors of educational and classroom films in the United States); the University Archives collections of thousands of Indiana University athletic game films and other motion picture material related to the history of the University.
•National Film Preservation Foundation and New Zealand Film Archive Jointly Awarded 2011 Jean Mitry Award
Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, the internationally renowned festival of silent film held annually in Pordenone, Italy, has honored the National Film Preservation Foundation and the New Zealand Film Archive with the 2011 Jean Mitry Award, the annual international prize established by the Province of Pordenone in 1986 to single out individuals or organizations "distinguished for their contribution to the reclamation and appreciation of silent cinema.”
The NFPF and the New Zealand Film Archive are partners in a groundbreaking collaboration to preserve and make available American silent-era films identified in New Zealand. This is the first time that an American institution has received the award. It is also the first time that it has been shared by two organizations.
The festival gave the award on October 7, 2011 before a screening of the surviving reels ofThe White Shadow(1923), the earliest surviving feature credited to Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980). The opening 35 minutes of this British production were found at the NZFA by an NFPF researcher and preserved through the collaboration. The festival will also present three film programs drawn from the NFPF’s recent DVD release,Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938.
Among the many rarities recovered through the multi-year initiative are the only extant print of the John Ford comedyUpstream(1927);Maytime(1923) with Clara Bow; andWon in a Cupboard(1914), the first surviving film directed by and starring Mabel Normand. All told, some 163 American silent-era titles have been identified for preservation in the United States. More than 80% are thought to exist nowhere else. Work to save these titles is well underway thanks to support from private donors, four Hollywood studios, Turner Classic movies, and a Save America’s Treasures grant, administered by the National Endowment for the Arts for the National Park Service.
The "lost” films will be accessed through the five major American silent film archives: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and UCLA Film & Television Archive, which are collaborating with the NFPF on this project. Copies of the complete films will also be publicly available in New Zealand. Many will be viewable on the NFPF Web site.
Only a fraction of the American films created during the first four decades of the motion picture still exist in the United States—probably fewer than 20%. American silent films, however, had a worldwide popularity, and many works discarded in the United States survive abroad as distribution prints that were salvaged decades ago at the end of theatrical runs. Most of the films recovered in New Zealand owe their survival to far-sighted collectors.
The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. Since starting operations in 1997, the NFPF has helped save more than 1,810 films at archives, libraries, and museums across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
•Eastman Kodak Files for Bankruptcy
On January 19, 2012, the Eastman Kodak Company announced that it and its U.S. subsidiaries filed voluntary petitions for chapter 11 business reorganization in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.From the company’s press release: "The business reorganization is intended to bolster liquidity in the U.S. and abroad, monetize non-strategic intellectual property, fairly resolve legacy liabilities, and enable the Company to focus on its most valuable business lines. The Company [Kodak] has made pioneering investments in digital and materials deposition technologies in recent years, generating approximately 75% of its revenue from digital businesses in 2011…The Company believes that it has sufficient liquidity to operate its business during chapter 11, and to continue the flow of goods and services to its customers in the ordinary course. Kodak expects to pay employee wages and benefits and continue customer programs. Subsidiaries outside of the U.S. are not subject to proceedings and will honor all obligations to suppliers, whenever incurred.”
Kodak’s bankruptcy filing, widely reported in the news media, was uniformly pronounced as a landmark event, marking the end of celluloid and the irrevocable transition to digital media. Founded by George Eastman in 1881 as the Eastman Dry Plate Company, Kodak was instrumental to the early development of cinema due to its introduction of a flexible film base. For a useful timeline of Kodak’s history from the company’s own website, begin here:www.kodak.com/global/en/corp/historyOfKodak/1878.jhtml?pq-path=2699&pq-locale=en_US.
• National Film Preservation Foundation Announces Production of New Avant-Garde DVD Set
Thanks to a grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts in November 2011, and an earlier grant from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the National Film Preservation Foundation has announced production ofTreasures 6: Next Wave Avant-Garde, a 2-DVD set to be released in fall 2013.
Envisioned as a sequel to the NFPF’s award-winningTreasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986, the new anthology explores how avant-garde film took root and spread after the 1950s as the next generation embraced diversity and forged connections with conceptual and performance art.Treasures 6will tour the national scene from New York’s Lower East Side to Los Angeles, hitting many points in between. During this restless, questioning era, emerging filmmakers took many paths. Some crossed over into the art world, others gleefully subverted cinematic norms, and still others tackled social issues head on. Taken together, they found new inspiration and rethought avant-garde filmmaking from the inside out.
The 5-1/2 hour anthology will present some two dozen films selected from the preservation work of America’s major avant-garde film archives—the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Anthology Film Archives, Harvard Film Archive, the Museum of Modern Art, New York University, the Pacific Film Archive, and UCLA Film & Television Archive. None of the films have been available before on DVD. Some have been unavailable in good-quality prints for years.
The NFPF's critically acclaimedTreasuresDVD series is used in libraries and universities around the world. The sets have been honored by the National Society of Film Critics, the Video Software Dealers Association, and Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna, Italy’s festival of film preservation, and have become a staple in the teaching of film and history.
The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America's film heritage. Since starting operations in 1997, the NFPF has assisted institutions in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and helped preserve more than 1,850 films and collections. The NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. For more information on the NFPF's programs, visitwww.filmpreservation.org.
• Turconi Collection Database Launched Online
As part of the thirtieth anniversary celebration of Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, the festival has launched the Davide Turconi Project. The project is based upon the 35mm nitrate film frame clippings collected by Italian film historian Davide Turconi (1911-2005) from the Josef Joye Collection in Switzerland and from other unidentified sources. As a tribute to Turconi’s belief that knowledge is a treasure to be shared, the collection is being made available for free online with the financial support of Le Giornate del Cinema Muto and the Cineteca del Friuli.
The Turconi Project is the result of twelve years of ongoing work (2000-2011). The collection consists of 23,491 clippings in total (usually two to three frames each) that have been preserved and also digitally scanned into an online database. The vast majority of the frames cover the early years of cinema (from ca. 1897–1915); however, some items in the collection represent films produced as late as 1944. Most of the original frames are now preserved at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York; smaller groups of frames are held by other institutions. Through the Turconi database, scans of the frames are represented in a single digital repository. This database is the largest of its kind currently available and provides a unique resource for film scholars, enthusiasts, archivists, and curators.
The database, along with more information, can be accessed at www.progettoturconi.it/.
• AMPAS PublicationDigital Dilemma 2Now Available Online
The Digital Dilemma, published by the Science & Technology Council of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 2007, raised important concerns about the longevity of digital motion picture materials created by the major Hollywood studios, as well as other valuable digital data managed by large commercial, scientific and government organizations. It found that all organizations dealing with digital systems and data collection face the same problem: they do not have an operationally and economically sustainable means to maintain long-term access to their materials.
The Digital Dilemma 2focuses on the more acute challenges faced by independent filmmakers, documentarians and nonprofit audiovisual archives. While 75 percent of theatrically released motion pictures are independently produced, these communities typically lack the resources, personnel and funding to address sustainability issues that are available to major Hollywood studios and other large, deep-pocketed enterprises. Independent filmmakers create – and nonprofit film archives collect and store – a sizeable part of moving image and sound heritage. The Academy partnered with the Library of Congress's National Digital Information Infrastructure and Preservation Program (NDIIPP) to produce this new study with the conviction that these communities shouldn't be allowed to fall through the cracks.
For this report, a cross-section of independent filmmakers, distributors and marketers was interviewed and a broader online survey of independent filmmakers was conducted. In addition, a representative group of nonprofit audiovisual archives provided details on their digital preservation activities, including information about the content they receive as born digital files, their current practices for digitally reformatting content for preservation, and their overall digital infrastructure, policies and funding strategies. The report's findings show an urgent need for these diverse and widely dispersed individuals and organizations to address the digital dilemma before the cultural heritage they represent is permanently lost.
The Digital Dilemma 2can be downloaded at:www.oscars.org/sciencetechnology/council/projects/digitaldilemma2/index.html.
"Archival News” reports recent news highlights from the media archive community for theCinema Journalreadership. 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. Readers seeking more frequent news updates are encouraged to visit the AMIA news blog atwww.AMIANewsbriefs.com. Contributions to this column are welcomed. Information should be sent to Jennifer Peterson, Assistant Professor, Film Studies Program, 316 UCB, University of Colorado at Boulder, Boulder, CO, 80309-0316; phone 303-735-2694; email:email@example.com.