The Associated Press has purchased the film archive of British Movietone, bolstering the news cooperative’s collection with historic video. The newsreels, acquired from Newsreel Archive, were originally shown in movie theaters twice a week and were the first to have sound and color. The archive includes the first recorded speeches of personalities such as Mohandas K. Gandhi and George Bernard Shaw, as well as the only footage of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer’s wedding filmed in high definition on 35mm film.
Most of the archive has been digitized and is available for licensing, but roughly fifteen percent of the library has never been seen by the public. This footage includes material that failed to make it into news bulletins or was barred by censors during World War II. The AP hopes to digitize and release the material over time. The collection also includes features on social issues, entertainment, lifestyle and sports that became increasingly important during the 1950s and 1960s when television news began to replace newsreels in cinemas.
Last year, NFAI acquired a DVD format of the film from Bangladesh in exchange for a copy of India’s first silent feature film, Raja Harishchandra (Dadasaheb Phalke, 1913). Bangladesh's information minister Hasanul Haq Inu has agreed to gift a celluloid print of the film so that NFAI can begin the restoration process.
Further details on the historical significance of the film and the exchange can be found here.
[Above: Image from Devdas (Pramathesh Barua, 1935)]
The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts has acquired the archive of Michael Holman, a hip-hop polymath who since the late 1970s has been a downtown dance impresario, filmmaker, and journalist, as well as a musician and choreographer. This acquisition will become the library’s first hip-hop collection.
Much of Mr. Holman’s archive is video: filmed underground performances by b-boys and break-dancers, with appearances byJean-Michel Basquiatand other artists. Among the collection’s highlights are projection reels from Mr. Holman’s experimental films and drafts of his screenplay for the 1996 biopic Basquiat. Oral history is captured on hours of audiotape recordings, and over 100 photographs provide crude glimpses of the hip-hop scene. Mr. Holman also gave the library his old Macintosh computer.
Researchers at the Czech National Film Archives have found a film by early cinema pioneer Georges Méliès that was thought to have been lost forever.
The two-minute silent film Match de Prestidigitation (“conjuring contest”) from 1904 was found on a reel given to the archives by an anonymous donor, labeled as another film.
Méliès, a stage magician turned filmmaker from France, is credited with many technical and narrative developments in the 500-plus movies he made between 1896 and 1912. The recovered film shows a magician who divides into two. The doubles then take turns to perform tricks before merging back into one man.
The Czech archives have 22 movies by Méliès and plans to include the film in a screening series dedicated to his work.
A nearly complete short version of a prewar film shot by Yasujiro Ozu has been discovered among a number of films donated to the Toy Film Museum in Kyoto.
The film is a comedy entitled Tokkan Kozo (A Straightforward Boy). It is a shorter version of a 38-minute film released in 1929. The whereabouts of the original, theatrical version remain unknown.
Yoneo Ota, representative of the museum and professor of the history of Japanese cinema at the Osaka University of Arts, announced the find at a news conference in September and Tokkan Kozo screened at the Kyoto International Film and Art Festival in October.
The film revolves around a man who abducts a boy, but abandons him after he proves too mischievous to handle. It is the twelfth film that Ozu directed with the Shochiku Co. movie studio.
Kino Lorber Launches Kickstarter Campaign for First Women Filmmakers
In early 2015, Kino Lorber mounted a successful Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign for Pioneers of African-American Cinema. The support it received allowed the project to expand from a small collection of films into a monumental five-disc collection. Pioneers spawned theatrical retrospectives, garnered praise in mainstream media outlets, and earned a video release in the United Kingdom.
In October, Kino Lorber announced that it would begin new fundraising campaign for a new project, Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers. Presented in association with the Library of Congress (and drawing from the collections of other world-renowned film archives), Pioneers will be the largest commercially-released video collection of films by women directors, and will focus on American films made between 1910 and 1929.
The collection will be comprised of new HD restorations of important films of the era as well as also the lesser-known works: short films, fragments, isolated chapters of incomplete serials. The five-Blu-ray box set will include approximately twenty hours of material, showcasing the work of under-appreciated filmmakers, while illuminating the gradual changes in how women directors were perceived (and treated) by the Hollywood establishment.
Jerome Seydoux Pathé will Restore Abel Gance’s ‘La Roue’
After receiving Pathé’s silent film library last year, theJerome Seydoux Pathé Foundation, founded in 2014 and headed bySophie Seydoux, is planning to restore Abel Gance’s monumental La Roue (1923) (The Wheel) in its original six-hour version.
The pan-European project involves the Cinémathèque Française, Cineteca di Bologna, German broadcaster ZDF, and the Cinémathèque Suisse (which has an important color print). The restoration is an ambitious two-year project that will be completed by the end of 2017. Part of the restored film will be screened at the Cinema Ritrovato film festival in 2017, accompanied by a master class on the problems faced during the restoration.
More information on the restoration project and the activities of the Foundation can be found here.
Albanian Cinema Project Raises Funds for Equipment, Education
Since 2012, the Albanian Cinema Project has been working to save the legacy of Albanian film. Recently, it expanded its preservation efforts to the whole of the Western Balkans and began a fundraising campaign to support these efforts.
The project is raising money to buy a film scanner with which to train thirty film and television archivists from the Western Balkans—Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, and Slovenia—so they can digitize their collections.
Read more about the project and its fundraising efforts here and here.
The thirty-fifth annual Pordenone Silent Film Festival was held from October 1–8, 2015. This year’s event included a lecture by James Curtis on the birth of production design and masterclasses on musical accompaniment. The festival also included numerous special events and screenings, among them, Jean Vigo’s À Propos de Nice (1930)and Greta Garbo’s sixth American film, The Mysterious Lady (Fred Niblo, 1928). This year’s festival was also the first for its new director, Jay Weissberg, who was appointed last October.
For a complete list of the festival’s thematic strands and a schedule of the events, see here.
Speakers at the symposium included filmmakers Tusi Tamasese, Sima Urale, and Paul Wolffram; writers Victor Rodgers, Miria George, and Karlo Mila; as well as Dr Teresia Teaiwa of Victoria University and curator Sean Mallon.
Moana was filmed by the husband and wife team Robert and Frances Flaherty over 1923 and 1924 in the Samoan village Savai’i In 1975, Monica Flaherty returned to Savai’i to create a soundtrack for her parents’ silent film. Sami Van Ingen and Bruce Posner digitally restored the sound version of the film in 2014. At the film’s centre is Moana, son of a tribal chief, who journeys towards manhood. The film captures the villagers as they fish, hunt, make clothes, feast, and dance.
In May this year, a private screening was held in Wellington for descendants of the Safune district where Moana was shot. Ngā Taonga hopes to organise further screenings of Moana for the Pacific Island communities of Auckland.
Further reading on the film and this event is available here.
[Above: Image from the symposium. Credit: Lisa Taouma]
On October 15, the fourteenth annual Home Movie Day was celebrated by the Center for Home Movies and by communities around the world.Home Movie Day is a celebration of amateur films and filmmaking. The event teaches individuals and families how best to care for their films and gives them an opportunity to screen their home movies, and watch those that others have brought along.
On October 27, the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrated the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. Annually, archives around the world join together on this date to celebrate audiovisual archives with activities that not only highlight the vulnerability of this heritage, but also to acknowledge the work of the heritage institutions that protect it. This year’s theme was “It’s Your Story—Don’t Lose It.”
The General Conference first approved the commemoration of a World Day for Audiovisual Heritage in 2005 as a mechanism to raise general awareness of the need for urgent measures to be taken and to acknowledge the importance of audiovisual documents as an integral part of national identity.
Hollywood Foreign Press Awards $2.4 Million for Scholarships, Restoration
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA), which presents the annual Golden Globe Awards, handed out nearly $2.4 million in grants at its annual Grants Banquet. A series of donations were made to a range of non-profit, entertainment-related organizations, foundations, and scholarship programs.
Over the course of its history, the HFPA, currently headed by president Lorenzo Soria, has committed more than $25 million in grants, awarded more than 1,500 scholarships, and restored nearly 100 films. The largest grants announced at the banquet included $125,000 to the University of California, Los Angeles for fellowships and institutional support and another $125,000 to Film Independent at Los Angeles County Museum of Art to promote cultural exchange. The HFPA also awarded a large grant to the American Cinematheque for the restoration and updating of the historic Egyptian theatre.
A complete list of the 2016 HFPA grants is available here.
Harvard Library Publishes Report on Digitizing Orphan Collections
The Harvard Library Office for Scholarly Communication (OSC) recently announced the release of acomprehensive literature review on strategies for digitizing orphan works for open access.
Anorphan workis any original work of authorship for which a good faith, prospective user cannot readily identify and/or locate the copyright owner—especially in situations, like digitization projects, where permission from the copyright owner is legally necessary. Orphan works can be books, photographs, movies, music, or any other copyrighted media.
In the spring of 2015, the OSC commissioned research from David Hansen, Clinical Assistant Professor and Faculty Research Librarian at University of North Carolina School of Law. Hansen was one of the primary facilitators for a project to create theStatement of Best Practices in Fair Use of Collections Containing Orphan Works for Libraries, Archives, and Other Memory Institutions, released in December 2014. Hansen completed the report, titledDigitizing Orphan Works: Legal Strategies to Reduce Risks for Open Access to Copyrighted Orphan Works, in the spring of 2016. A panel of experts then read the draft and commented on its significance, as well as its strengths and weaknesses in methodology and presentation. These expert comments ultimately helped improve the final edition.
This research was made possible by a grant to the Harvard Library from the Arcadia Fund. The full report can be found here.
Researcher Announces Updates to Timeline of Historical Film Colors
In October, Professor Barbara Flueckiger, introduced an updated version of the Timeline of Historical Film Colors. Flueckiger is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Zurich. The new features include slide galleries, chronological overviews, and a lightbox feature for examining images in detail. All images are also tagged and searchable.
The database was originally launched in 2012 and has been developed and curated by Flueckiger. The project provides comprehensive information about historical film color processes invented since the end of the nineteenth century. Further details on the development of the timeline can be found here. An introduction to the new features is here.
[Above: Image from the Timeline of Historical Film Colors. Photomicrograph, 25x. Credit: Norbert Wey, Institute of Pathology, University of Zurich]
Matters in Media Art Launches Resources for Collectors, Institutions
Matters in Media Art recently launched a new website designed as an online resource for collectors, artists, and institutions of all sizes engaged in the task of caring for works of art that have moving image, electronic, or digital elements. The site is the product of a cross-disciplinary collaboration between the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), and Tate. The multi-year initiative was completed with support from the New Art Trust.
The newest content addresses current preservation challenges for digital artworks, namely file-based delivery and storage for media arts. It affirms the project’s commitment to media art and artists through the development of shared practices for the care and preservation of media art collections. The redesigned website delivers open source content via a GitHub repository in order to realize the consortium’s ambition of offering an online resource that can be improved and refined by a broader community of artists, collectors, and practitioners.
UCLA Students Rebuild History of African-American Films
A group of digital humanities students at UCLA responded to the near-total exclusion of African-Americans from the recent Academy Awards by reconstructing the history of silent films made for and by African Americans. What they found, and sought to make visible, are the many ways in which African-American artists are deeply entwined in the history of filmmaking, and can be traced back to the first decades of film practice.
In September, the Irish Film Institute Film Archive (IFI) launched the IFI Player, an online archive of Irish cinema. The IFIcollects, preserves, and shares Ireland’s national moving-image collection. The collection spans 1897 to the present day, and includes home movies, newsreels, travelogues, animations, feature films, public information films and documentaries. The collection available on the player is intended to reflect all aspects of indigenous amateur and professional production.
The UCLA Film & Television Archive recently launched the UCLA KTLA News Project, an online portal of news clips filmed in Los Angeles between 1958 and 1981 by local television station KTLA. The footage includes coverage of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, as well as a protest against nuclear testing in the Aleutian Islands in which Star Trek actor George Takei participated.
The KTLA project adds to the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s mission of preserving and showcasing video footage. In particular, the archive contains many clips focused on social activism. News stories on additional topics will be added to the archive periodically.
“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: firstname.lastname@example.org