USC Shoah Foundation and the Armenian Film Foundation signed an agreement in April of 2010 to digitize the interviews conducted by the late Dr. J. Michael Hagopian. The interviews were recorded on 16mm film between 1972 and 2005. Hagopian was an Emmy-nominated filmmaker who made seventy educational films and documentaries during his career.
The Armenian collection contains a broad range of interviewee categories, including not only survivors of the Armenian Genocide, but also of other groups targeted by the Ottoman Turks, such as the Greeks, Assyrians, and Yezidis. Also included are non-victim witnesses to the atrocities as well as descendants of the survivors and several renowned scholars.
Unlike existing collections in the Visual History Archive, this is a documentary film collection, containing the complete unedited interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. The testimonies have served as primary source material for Hagopian’s documentaries about the Armenian Genocide, including The Forgotten Genocide (1975) and the “Witnesses Trilogy”: Voices from the Lake (2003), Germany and the Secret Genocide (2004), and The River Ran Red (2009).
USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education is dedicated to making audiovisual interviews with survivors and other witnesses of the Holocaust and other genocides. The Institute’s current collection of more than 53,000 eyewitness testimonies contained within its Visual History Archive preserves history as told by the people who lived it, and lived through it. Housed at the University of Southern California, within the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Art, and Sciences, the Institute works with partners around the world to advance scholarship and research, to provide resources and online tools for educators, and to disseminate the testimonies for educational purposes.
More details on the acquisition can be found here.
Library of Congress Acquires Camilo José Vergara Archive
The Library of Congress (LoC) has acquired the archive of Camilo José Vergara, an award-winning photographer who has documented America’s post-industrial cities for the last forty years. More than 5,000 of Vergara’s photographs will be housed in the Library.
According to Helena Zinkham, chief of the Prints and Photographs Division, the acquisition fills a gap in the Library’s coverage of cities from the 1980s to the present. Through photographs taken from the same vantage point over long periods of time, Vergara shows how areas can fall into ruin and, in some cases, revive through urban revitalization. He has photographed Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, New York, Camden, New Jersey, and 16 other urban areas.
Born in Chile in 1944, Vergara became the first photographer to receive the National Humanities Medal in 2013. He was named a Berlin Prize Fellow in 2010 by the American Academy in Berlin and a MacArthur Foundation Fellow in 2002.
He is the author of many books including Tracking Time—Documenting America’s Post-Industrial Cities (Kerber Verlag, 2014); Harlem: The Unmaking of a Ghetto (University of Chicago, 2013); How the Other Half Worships (Rutgers, 2005); Subway Memories (Monacelli, 2004); Unexpected Chicagoland (New Press, 2001); and American Ruins (Monacelli,1999).
For an overview of the collection and to view approximately 400 images that have been digitized, see here. For further details on the acquisition, see here.
[Above: Camilo José Vergara, Girls with Barbies, East Harlem, 1970]
Considered one of the most important films of the 1970s by the Manunuri ng Pelikulang Pilipino, Insiang follows the struggles of a teenage girl—the titular character Insiang, played by Hilda Koronel—trapped in urban poverty.
Brocka’s other classic, Maynila sa mga Kuko ng Liwanag (1975), was part of a previous restoration project carried out by the FDCP with the WCP. The film won best archive restoration/preservation title at the 2014 Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries International Awards in London.
The Greek Parliament has voted on new legislation that institutionalizes the legal obligation to deposit films and establishes a National Film Heritage Preservation Organization.
Since 1982, the Council of Europe Convention for the Protection of Audiovisual Heritage provided for the mandatory deposit of a copy of any type of audiovisual material for EU member-states. This obligation includes the deposit of a copy in a formally specified file and the deposited material’s necessary preservation and protection. However, after the abolition of the Greek National Audiovisual Archive, there was no organization responsible for the preservation of film.
The new legislation aims to fill the existing gap, entrusting this service to the Greek Film Archive. To cover the collection, cataloging, archiving, preservation, conservation, restoration, recovery, digitization and availability costs, the organization will receive an annual grant from the Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports.
Over the past decade, Thelma Schoonmaker, Martin Scorsese’s editor and Michael Powell’s widow, has overseen the restoration of many of her husband’s films. The latest is Powell and Pressburger’s The Tales of Hoffmann, a 1951 adaptation of Jacques Offenbach’s opera of the same name. The Tales of Hoffmann is one of Powell and Pressburger’s most experimental films, a cinematic fantasy of Technicolor, music, and dance that shares many of its themes—and nearly the same personnel—with The Red Shoes (1948).
The 4K restoration will premiere in UK cinemas on 27 February 2015.
Cinematic Treasures Named to US National Film Registry
In December, the Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, announced the annual selection of motion pictures to join the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress. Spanning the period 1919-2002, the films named to the registry include Hollywood classics, documentaries, animated films, independent, and experimental motion pictures. This year’s selections bring the number of films in the registry to 650, a small part of the Library’s vast moving-image collection of 1.2 million items.
The 2014 registry list includes Saving Private Ryan (Steven Spielberg, 1998); the 1968 horror film Rosemary’s Baby (Roman Polanski); Arthur Penn’s Western saga starring Dustin Hoffman, Little Big Man (1970); director John Hughes’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986); and Joel and Ethan Coen’s cult classic, The Big Lebowski (1998).
The list also includes John Lasseter’s 1986 animated film, Luxo Jr.; House of Wax (André de Toth, 1953), the first full-length 3D color film produced and released by a major American film studio; Howard Hawks’ 1959 Western Rio Bravo; and Efraín Gutiérrez’s 1976 independent movie, Please Don’t Bury Me Alive!, considered by many historians to be the first Chicano feature film. 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 The Big Lebowski (Joel and Ethan Coen, 1998)]
Turkey Announces Plans for Film Archive, Cinema Museum
In December, the Turkish Ministry of Culture confirmed development plans for new film preservation, storage, and exhibition facilities, including a cinema museum, cinema library, film laboratory, workshops, and exhibition venues as well as an open air theater and film archive.
The archive will hold an estimated 30,000 titles, including feature-length, documentary, and short films. The museum will display cameras that have been used since the beginning of Turkish cinema, cinematographs, film posters, costumes, and other significant items from the history of Turkish cinema. The project will also offer an exclusive opportunity to amateur filmmakers who will be able to use the site’s editing room free of charge.
The foundation of the museum, which is located in Ümitköy, Ankara, will be laid in the spring of 2015. The museum is scheduled to open in 2017.
The Kings is one of the five “Wonder Theaters” built in the New York area by the Loew’s Corporation between 1929 and 1930. The trajectory of the Kings Theater is being watched closely in Jersey City, where another Wonder Theater, the Loew’s Jersey, is at a crossroads. The municipal government and the Friends of the Loew’s community group have been battling over how the theater should be managed and by whom. If the Kings renaissance succeeds, it may well tip the balance in that dispute.
The other three Wonder Theaters, currently managed by religious groups, are the Valencia on Jamaica Avenue in Queens; the United Palace on 175th Street and Broadway in Manhattan; and the Paradise on the Grand Concourse in the Bronx.
On 21 January 2015, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) launched The Long Journey, an exhibition of photographs and films documenting the life of Palestinian refugees. The exhibition was held at the al-Bireh Cultural Center in the central West Bank, north of Jerusalem.
Since its inception in 1950, UNRWA has documented the lives and stories of Palestinian refugees through photography and film. This audiovisual archive of refugee life contains more than 430,000 negatives, 10,000 prints, 85,000 slides, 75 films, and 730 videocassettes. Included in the archive are also photographs taken by Red Cross staff that document the early phases of displacement. The historical significance of this archive was recognised by UNESCO in 2009 when it was inscribed in its Memory of the World list.
In 2012, UNRWA began digitizing its entire archive, a process that the organization will finish later this year. The Long Journey offers a glimpse of the first stage of this digitization and archiving project. Around 1,900 images are already available online.
The Long Journey exhibition is being shown concurrently in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It has already been shown in Jerusalem, Dubai, Turin, Rome, and New York; more international exhibitions are planned.
For further details on the exhibition, see here and here.
[Above: The Nakba "disaster" of 1948, Palestinian exodus; copyright Photographic Archives of UNRWA]
The production designer Sir Ken Adam was responsible for the design of more than seventy films, each of which is characterized by a strong visual style. Adam has received numerous awards for his work, including two Academy Awards for Best Production Design for Barry Lyndon (Stanley Kubrick, 1975) and The Madness of King George (Nicholas Hytner, 1994).
The exhibition of his work at the Deutsche Kinemathek, Bigger Than Life, includes a selection of his 4,000 drawings and sketches; photographs and films that Adam shot while conducting research and on the sets; and personal memorabilia. Adam gave his collection to the Deutsche Kinemathek in 2012; it is currently being inventoried, digitized, and prepared for archival use. It will be available online next year.
A retrospective exhibition celebrating the 100th anniversary of Henri Langlois’s birth was held in Shanghai from January 16–31. Langlois founded the Cinémathèque Française and influenced several generations of filmmakers.
The exhibition was co-organized by the Consulate General of France in Shanghai and the Institute of World Film at Shanghai Normal University. It included screenings of works by living directors dedicated to the memory of Langlois, including three films by contemporary filmmaker Jacques Richard: Langlois Monumental (1991), Le Musée du Cinéma Henri Langlois du Palais de Chaillot (1997), and Le Fantome d'Henri Langlois (2004).
Films by French New Wave directors Jean Vigo, Jean-Luc Godard, and François Truffaut were also included in the program. Screenings were held at the Shanghai Film Art Center, the Art Theatre in China Art Museum, and MoCA Shanghai.
The complete program and more information are available here.
A 1919 film starring Harry Houdini will screen for the first time at the TCM Classic Film Festival in March. The Grim Game (Irvin Willat), which had been lost for decades, was discovered early last year by film preservationist Rick Schmidlin. Aside from being one of a handful of films in which the legendary escape artist appeared, The Grim Game is also infamous for using footage of an actual airplane collision that took place during filming.
Brane Zivkovic, who teaches film and music composition at NYU and whose on-site vault provided storage for the film, will conduct a live performance of his score at the festival, to be held March 26–29 in Hollywood.
CLIR Announces Final Round of Grants, Digital Preservation Program
In December 2014, the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) announced its final round of grants for its Hidden Collections preservation program and a new digitizing initiative. Grant recipients included the audiovisual collections of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; the Tibetan Audio-Visual Collections at Trace Foundation’s Latse Library; and the WGBH National Educational Television Collection Catalog. A complete list of recipients can be found at the CLIR.
Since CLIR’s Hidden Collections program began in 2008, 129 grants totaling more than twenty-seven million dollars have gone to institutions nationwide for the upkeep of the hidden collections. In 2015, CLIR expects to award through the new program about four million dollars to institutions holding collections of high scholarly value. Developed through consultation with digital library practitioners and funders, and with input from the broader community, the program will be designed to encourage approaches to digitization that make possible new kinds of scholarship in the digital research environment; support the digitization of entire collections; promote best practices for ensuring the long-term availability and discoverability of digital files; and ensure that digitized content is made available to the public as easily and completely as possible.
The Council on Library and Information Resources is an independent, nonprofit organization that helps libraries and cultural and higher education institutions to make use of their collections for research, teaching, and learning. Based in Washington DC, it was created in 1997 through a merger of the Council on Library Resources and the Commission on Preservation and Access. Funding for both the preservation grants and the digitization initiative comes from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Further details on the CLIR Hidden Collections initiative can be found here and here.
NFB and ARTE Announce Winners of Interactive Haiku Contest
In June 2014, the National Film Board of Canada (NFB) and ARTE invited digital artists to engage with the ephemerality and brevity of the web by creating interactive haikus. The project asked participants to pitch a “surprising, stirring, and thought-provoking short interactive project.”
Over 160 projects were received. After three months of deliberation, the international jury chose twelve winners, including Phi, a project designed and developed by Charles Ayats, Mathias Desloges, Colleen, and Marie Blondiaux/Red Corner. Phi offers an exploration of the hidden life of images: for each image, the user has to follow an interactive outline to “activate” the image, so that it can become a real “philm.”
The complete list of winners can be found here. All twelve interactive haikus will be made available online in the spring.
On February 23, 2015, the British Film Institute (BFI) will releaseSpring in a Small Town (Fei Mu, 1948) on DVD. The film is considered one of the most important works of the “first great era” of Chinese filmmaking and premiered last year as part of the BFI’s “Century of Chinese Cinema.” The film stars Wei Wei as Liyan, a sickly and apathetic husband, ruined by years of war; and Li Wei as Yuwen, Liyan’s wife and caregiver.
The China Film Archive completed the restoration of the film as part of its Digital Restoration Project. Spring in a Small Town is accompanied on the DVD by two rare films from the BFI National Archive: A Small Town in China (1933) and This is China (1946).
The digitized collection is categorized into a number of sections. Among them: Experimental Cinema from the University of Chile (Cine Experimental de la Universidad de Chile), which includes early works from the Pedro Chaskel, Raul Ruíz, Miguel Littín and Helvio Soto; Digital Cinema (Cine Digital); Chilean Feature Films (Largometrajes Chilenos), a collection of some of the most important cinematic works in national film history; Cinema of the Popular Unity (Cine de la Unidad Popular), a collection of films commissioned under the socialist government of Salvador Allende, many of whose directors were targeted by the military regime that deposed Allende; Chilean Documentaries (Documentales Chilenos); Videos of the 1980s and 90s (Videos de los años 80 y 90); and Distinguished Authors (Autores Destacados).
The collection includes such landmarks of national filmmaking as El Husar de la Muerte (Pedro Sienna), a black and white silent film from 1925 which tells the story of independence; El Chacal de Nahueltoro, Miguel Littín’s 1969 docu-fiction retelling of one of the most infamous crimes in Chilean history; and Venceremos, Pedro Chaskel and Héctor Rios’ short film from 1970, which documents the social inequality that the fledgling Popular Unity government sought to address.
Photographer Levi Bettweiser, founder of the Rescued Film Project, recently discovered thirty-one undeveloped rolls of film shot by a single soldier during World War II. Bettweiser found the film rolls in late 2014 at an auction in Ohio. About half the rolls were labeled with various location names (i.e. Boston Harbor, Lucky Strike Beach, LaHavre Harbor). Bettweiser knows nothing about the soldier who shot the film or how the films found their way to the auction.
The Rescued Film Project is an online archive gallery of images that were captured on film between the 1930s and late 1990s. The images come from undeveloped rolls of film, discovered all over the world, and came to us in the form of undeveloped rolls of film.
At the end of 2014, Twitter announced that they were indexing every public tweet since the service started in 2006—a number that the company puts in the hundreds of billions—available for public searching. The new index is more than 100 times as large as the one to which users previously had access.
You can read more about the project on Twitter’s engineering blog.
The Web dwells in a never-ending present. It is—elementally—ethereal, ephemeral, unstable, and unreliable. Sometimes when you try to visit a Web page what you see is an error message: “Page Not Found.” This is known as “link rot,” and it’s a drag, but it’s better than the alternative. More often, you see an updated Web page; most likely the original has been overwritten. (To overwrite, in computing, means to destroy old data by storing new data in their place; overwriting is an artifact of an era when computer storage was very expensive.) Or maybe the page has been moved and something else is where it used to be. This is known as “content drift,” and it’s more pernicious than an error message, because it’s impossible to tell that what you’re seeing isn’t what you went to look for: the overwriting, erasure, or moving of the original is invisible. For the law and for the courts, link rot and content drift, which are collectively known as “reference rot,” have been disastrous. In providing evidence, legal scholars, lawyers, and judges often cite Web pages in their footnotes; they expect that evidence to remain where they found it as their proof, the way that evidence on paper—in court records and books and law journals—remains where they found it, in libraries and courthouses. But a 2013 survey of law- and policy-related publications found that, at the end of six years, nearly fifty per cent of the URLs cited in those publications no longer worked. According to a 2014 study conducted at Harvard Law School, “more than 70% of the URLs within the Harvard Law Review and other journals, and 50% of the URLs within United States Supreme Court opinions, do not link to the originally cited information.” The overwriting, drifting, and rotting of the Web is no less catastrophic for engineers, scientists, and doctors. Last month, a team of digital library researchers based at Los Alamos National Laboratory reported the results of an exacting study of three and a half million scholarly articles published in science, technology, and medical journals between 1997 and 2012: one in five links provided in the notes suffers from reference rot. It’s like trying to stand on quicksand.
Jehan-François Pâris, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Houston in Texas, claims to have developed data storage that would not require any human intervention throughout its whole lifetime. Pâris claims that the trick for making zero-maintenance data storage is to include enough spare discs to take on the data from any that fail. Along with a team of collaborators, Pâris has simulated the behavior of such a system and says it outperforms current data redundancy systems.