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Archival News
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Archival News 58.3 Spring 2019
Edited by Rielle Navitski



PRESERVATION

MySpace Loses Over 50 Million Music Tracks, Highlighting Fleeting Nature of the Commercial Web

MySpace Loses Over 50 Million Music Tracks, Highlighting Fleeting Nature of the Commercial Web

After months of reports of missing photos, audio, and video on MySpace pages, in late March the social network announced the loss of all material uploaded before 2016 due to problems that arose during a server migration. The world most-visited website in 2006, MySpace still boasted 15 million monthly visitors in 2016, with traffic spiking on “Throwback Thursdays” as social media users searched for vintage images of themselves to share online. As this anecdote suggests, for many users the site had become a de facto repository of both creative work and collective memory.

Made public as Flickr began to delete user photos in excess of a new limit for free accounts, the massive data loss provoked reactions ranging from the indifferent to the concerned to the suspicious. Andy Baio, former chief technology officer of Kickstarter, speculated that the deletion was a deliberate cost-cutting measure, while other commentators sounded the alarm about an impending digital dark age and called for a renewed commitment to digital preservation.

In the wake of the announcement, the Internet Archive—a vocal advocate for the preservation of online content—made available a collection of nearly 500,000 mp3 files scraped from the site by anonymous academic researchers, dated between 2008 and 2010. As these salvaged files went online, the Internet Archive (in partnership with Archive Team) was racing against time to preserve content from Google+, the next online community facing permanent deletion, in advance of its shutdown on April 2.


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National Comedy Center to Digitize Annotated Scripts from The Dick Van Dyke Show

National Comedy Center to Digitize Annotated Scripts from The Dick Van Dyke Show

 

Script for “The Sick Boy and the Sitter,” aired on the Dick Van Dyke Show in 1961. Carl Reiner Collection - National Comedy Center.

 

Emmy-winning writer-producer-director Carl Reiner has entrusted the National Comedy Center in Jamestown, New York, with the digitization of over 7,500 pages of production scripts from 158 episodes of the Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-1966). Handwritten notes on the scripts document episodes’ evolution through edits made during read-throughs and rehearsals. The Center, which opened last summer, also acquired scripts and production documents from the papers of John Rich, who directed the first 41 episodes of the program, including materials from his tenure as director on All in the Family. These recent additions join the papers of singer and actor Rose Marie, who appeared on the show as Sally Rogers, incorporated into the Center’s archives in 2018. The Center also holds extensive documentation of the careers of Lucille Ball, Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, and Shelley Berman. For more on the acquisition and the digitization project, see here.


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UCLA Film & Television Archive Crowdfunds Restoration of Student Films by The Doors Members Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek

UCLA Film & Television Archive Crowdfunds Restoration of Student Films by The Doors Members Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek

Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison. UCLA Film & Television Archive.


In February, the UCLA Film & Television Archive announced a crowdfunding campaign to restore five student films that Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek worked on during their time at UCLA prior to the formation of The Doors.

The campaign, which raised over $40,000, will fund the digital restoration of the 16mm source material and its transfer to 35mm, DCP, and video files for long-term preservation, exhibition, and streaming online. The project’s top priorities for preservation are Evergreen (1965), directed by Manzarek and starring Dorothy Fujikawa (who married Manzarek in 1967) as an art student seeking romantic commitment from a jazz musician, and the experimental Five Situations for Camera, Recorder, and People (Alex Piradsky, 1965), with sound recorded by Morrison. If sufficient funds are raised, Manzarek’s film Induction, his performance in The Blind Man and the Wino, and Morrison’s cinematography for Patient 411: A Progress Report are also slated for restoration.

Morrison’s student work as director, however, is already past saving: unlike Manzarek’s Evergreen and Induction, which were selected to screen in UCLA’s biannual showcase of student work and consequently preserved by the university, Morrison’s debut film received scathing reviews and was discarded at the end of the semester, according to Manzarek’s memoir Light My Fire: My Life with the Doors.

For more on the restoration project, see here and here.

 

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INSTITUTIONS AND ORGANIZATIONS

Lou Reed’s Papers Now Available for Research at the New York Public Library

Lou Reed’s Papers Now Available for Research at the New York Public Library

Audio recordings from the Lou Reed Papers at the New York Public Library. Rolling Stone.


On the heels of high-profile university acquisitions of Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen’s papers, a trove of materials documenting Lou Reed’s creative and personal life is now open for consultation at the New York Public Library’s Performing Arts Center. Transferred to the library in 2017 by musician/performance artist Laurie Anderson, Reed’s widow, the collection contains over six hundred hours of audio—

including a reel from 1965 thought to contain the earliest recordings of Reed’s original songs—1,300 moving-image items, thousands of photographs and press clippings, and Reed’s collection of vinyl records, among other personal effects. While coverage of Reed’s time in the celebrated group the Velvet Underground is relatively sparse, extensive documentation exists for his tours between 1973 and 1976 and his business dealings. To learn more about the collection, visit the NYPL’s overview and finding aid; for additional coverage, see here and here.

 

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Jamaica’s National Film Library to Host Digital Reggae Film Archive

Jamaica’s National Film Library to Host Digital Reggae Film Archive

 

Bob Marley onstage in 1975. Jeff Albertson Photograph Collection, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries.

Addressing the dispersion of footage featuring reggae artists in collections across the globe, Jamaica’s National Film Library and Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport announced the creation of the Reggae Film Archive in mid-February. The collection will comprise digitized audiovisual materials accessible on-site through a keyword-searchable database. A cache of over two hundred films amassed by the Reggae Film Festival between 2008 and 2013, donated by organizer Barbara Blake-Hannah will form the seed of the new collection, with festival co-organizer and film archivist Peter Gittins contributing additional works.


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Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation to Bring Historical Records Online Through Partnership with Utah State University

Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation to Bring Historical Records Online Through Partnership with Utah State University

 

Alta Washakie of the Shoshone Nation in 1902. Utah American Indian Digital Archive, Utah State University/Denver Public Library.

Oral histories, photographs, and other documents registering the history of the Shoshone Nation’s Northwestern Band will be made freely available online through a collaboration with Utah State University, joining existing digital collections like the Utah American Indian Digital Archive, which incorporates both insiders’ and outsiders’ perspectives on Native American life. The project is funded in part by a grant from the Church of Latter-Day Saints; most members of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone converted to Mormonism in the wake of the Bear River Massacre of 1863—one of the most devastating attacks on Native Americans in U.S. history—after refusing to be relocated to a reservation. See here and here for further reading on the online collection.

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GRANTS AND AWARDS

Mellon Foundation Pledges $1 Million in Support of Community-Based Archives Documenting Marginalized Groups

Mellon Foundation Pledges $1 Million in Support of Community-Based Archives Documenting Marginalized Groups

 

Contents of the “Archivist in a Backpack” oral history kit created for use in community-based archives by the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, recipient of a Mellon Foundation grant in 2017.

In late April, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced a million-dollar commitment to support archives created by marginalized communities to document their experiences, with members playing an active role in the collection and curation of materials. The grants, ranging in amount from $25,000 to $100,000, can be directed towards care of collections, operational costs, and outreach, and will be awarded in two cycles, with a July 1 deadline for funding to be disbursed starting in January 2020. The program builds on a series grants awarded through the foundation’s Scholarly Communication program in support of community-based archives beginning in 2013. The call for proposals can be accessed here.

 

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Indiana University to Foster Research on China’s Earliest Known Sound Recordings with Support from Tang Foundation

Indiana University to Foster Research on China’s Earliest Known Sound Recordings with Support from Tang Foundation

“Sacred Dance of Five Llamas, China,” Berthold Lauer, c. 1901. American Museum of Natural History.

Four hundred wax cylinders containing the oldest known audio of Chinese speech and music—including folk tunes, Beijing opera, and regional storytelling traditions that mix recitation and song—are slated to gain a new global profile through Indiana University’s First Recordings from China Project. Recorded by Berthold Laufer, a disciple of noted anthropologist Franz Boas, on a 1901-1902 expedition to China sponsored by the American Museum of National History, the cylinders are held in Indiana University’s Archives of Traditional Music and underwent digitization in 2017 through the Media Digitization and Preservation Initiative supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities. A $90,000 grant from the Tang Foundation will support the publication of the recordings in CD format with a bilingual companion volume, as well as the organization of symposia and the publication of a biography of Laufer. More information on the project and the collection is available here and here.

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Washington University to Digitize Over a Hundred Hours of Interviews from “Eyes on the Prize II” with Support from the NEH

Washington University to Digitize Over a Hundred Hours of Interviews from “Eyes on the Prize II” with Support from the NEH

Actor and activist Harry Belafonte in an interview for Eyes on the Prize II. Washington University in St. Louis.

The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded Washington University in St. Louis a $266,392 grant to digitize original 16mm camera negatives for more than 182 interviews with civil rights leaders conducted for Henry Hampton’s documentary series Eyes on the Prize II: America at the Racial Crossroads, 1965-1985 (1988). The digitized footage will be made freely available online through the university’s Henry Hampton Collection, joining interviews and keyword-searchable transcripts from Hampton’s previous series Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years (1985), which was digitized with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the National Historical Records and Publications Commission. For more on this second phase of the project, see here.

 

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EXHIBITIONS AND FESTIVALS

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, FESPACO Screens African Film Heritage Project Restorations

Celebrating its 50th Anniversary, FESPACO Screens African Film Heritage Project Restorations

Publicity still, Soleil Ô (Med Hondo, Mauritania, 1970). The Film Foundation.

In late February, the Festival Panafricain du Cinéma et de la Télévision de Ouagadougou, held in the capital of Burkina Faso, marked fifty years of activity with screenings of eleven key works of African cinema restored by the African Film Heritage Project, a partnership between Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation, the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), the Cineteca di Bologna, and UNESCO. Four of these restorations—Soleil Ô (Med Hondo, Mauritania, 1970), Chronique des années de braise (Chronicle of the Years of Fire, Mohammed Lakhdar-Hamima, Algeria, 1975), La femme au couteau (The Woman with the Knife, Timité Bassori, 1969, Côte d’Ivoire, 1969), and Muna Moto (The Child of Another, Jean-Pierre Dikongue-Pipa, Cameroon, 1975)—had never been previously shown on the African continent. Other classics restored through the partnership, including Ousmane Sembène’s La noire de... (Black Girl, Senegal, 1966) and Djibril Diop Mambéty’s Touki Bouki (Senegal, 1973) rounded out the festival’s retrospective programming.

Tracing its roots to the 1969 Semaine du Cinéma Africain organized by a group of Ouagadougou cinephiles, the biannual festival has faced significant challenges in recent years, including the waning of moviegoing in Burkina Faso and across Africa, increased ticket prices that have reduced attendance, and terrorist threats that have led to heightened security measures, generating reflections on the festival’s future direction as it commemorates its fiftieth anniversary.

More information can be found here; the full festival program (in French) is available here.


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UCLA Festival of Film Preservation Offers Weekend of Restorations

UCLA Festival of Film Preservation Offers Weekend of Restorations

Still from Gay USA (Arthur J. Bressan Jr., 1977), part of The UCLA Outfest Legacy Project collection, the world’s largest LGBTQ media collection.

Packing twenty-three screenings into three days (rather than distributing them throughout the month as in the past), the 2019 Festival of Film Preservation featured a selection of UCLA Film & Television restorations that play to the archives’ strengths. Classical Hollywood fare on offer included three film noirs—The Red House (Delmer Daves, 1947), The Crooked Way (Robert Florey, 1949), Trapped (Richard Fleischer, 1949)—and two anti-Nazi dramas, The Mortal Storm (Frank Borzage, 1940) and Voice in the Wind (Arthur Ripley, 1944). The UCLA Outfest Legacy Project was represented with a screening of the documentary Gay USA (Arthur J. Bressan Jr., 1977), documenting the community’s struggles for human rights and visibility in the late 1970s. On the side of neglected and ephemeral materials, the festival screened rare fragments of early local television programming and silent shorts. See here for further coverage.

 

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BFI & Radio Times Television Festival Showcases Earliest British TV Ads, Footage of Bowie and the Beatles

BFI & Radio Times Television Festival Showcases Earliest British TV Ads, Footage of Bowie and the Beatles

Currently in its second year, the BFI & Radio Times Television Festival held in mid-April highlighted archival footage and rediscoveries alongside contemporary screenings. Drawing on television holdings comprising over 750,000 items, the BFI presented a series of advertisements from the UK debut of commercial television in 1955, as well as a selection of David Bowie’s TV appearances. Now in its twenty-fifth year, the BFI’s Missing Believed Wiped event—which showcases rediscovered TV content previously thought lost—featured an eleven-second segment of a 1966 Beatles performance on Top of the Pops. Their only surviving appearance from the show was captured on a television screen in a silent, 8mm home movie and discovered in the hands of a collector in Mexico. Read more about the festival here and here.

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TCM Classic Film Festival Marks Tenth Anniversary with Celebration of Love Onscreen

TCM Classic Film Festival Marks Tenth Anniversary with Celebration of Love Onscreen

Turner Classic Movies commemorated twenty-five years in operation at the TCM Classic Film Festival in mid-April, an event that turns ten this year. Amongst the nearly eighty films screened at the festival, two main programs explored variations of onscreen love—with the romantic comedy When Harry Met Sally (Rob Reiner, 1989) kicking off the festival—and the legacy of Twentieth-Century Fox, days after its acquisition by Disney in late March.

Recent restorations showcased in the festival program include Mexico’s first masked-wrestler exploitation film, Santo contra el Cerebro del Mal (Santo vs. the Evil Brain, Joselito Rodríguez, 1961), restored by Permanencia Voluntaria in collaboration with the Academy Film Archive, and lesbian romance Desert Hearts (Donna Deitch, 1985), given a digital refresh by the Criteron Collection/Janus Films and the UCLA Film & Television Archive in partnership with UCLA Outfest Legacy Project/Sundance Institute.

Other programs showcased endangered formats, including Kinopanorama, the Soviets’ answer to Cinerama—albeit shown on DCP—and nitrate, with four films projected on the highly flammable material. For more on the festival, see here and here.


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CONFERENCES, SYMPOSIA, AND WORKSHOPS

FIAF Celebrates Seventy-Five Years, Honors Jean-Luc Godard

FIAF Celebrates Seventy-Five Years, Honors Jean-Luc Godard

Jean-Luc Godard receives the 2019 FIAF Award. Photo © Carine Roth. Cinémathèque Suisse.

In early April, FIAF members gathered at the Cinémathèque Suisse in Lausanne—site of previous FIAF meetings in 1954 and 1979—for a congress that marked the seventy-fifth anniversary of the organization’s founding in 1938. During the meeting, Jean-Luc Godard was presented with the FIAF Award honoring “a film personality external to the film archiving world, whose experience and personal commitment to cinema underlines FIAF's missions.” A dual Swiss-French citizen, the French New Wave luminary lived near Lausanne in the 1970s and even shot some of his work on the premises in the 1980s.

Presentations at the FIAF symposium, centered on the theme From the Past to the Present of Film Archives, grappled with the challenges of the shift to the digital and reflected on archival histories and marginalized collections and institutions. An accompanying screening series at the Cinémathèque Suisse highlighted both classics and forgotten works of Swiss cinema, presenting the Franco-Swiss silent Visages d’enfants (Faces of Children, Jacques Feyder, 1925) and a program of restored animation alongside the documentaries Cinema Futures (Michael Palm, Austria, 2016) and La Petite Dame du Capitole (The Little Lady of the Capitole [Movie Theater], Jacqueline Veuve, Switzerland, 2005), which interrogate the future of film and film archives.

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Hollywood Foreign Press Association Teams up with The Film Foundation and Institut Lumière for Restoration Summit

Hollywood Foreign Press Association Teams up with The Film Foundation and Institut Lumière for Restoration Summit

Photo by Magnus Sundholm. Hollywood Foreign Press Association.

Following the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s announcement this past October that it would fund the restoration of three hundred Lumière Brothers films with a $200,000 donation to the Institut Lumière, the association joined forces with the organization and with Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation in a public call for greater support for film preservation. Actor Jane Fonda and director Alexander Payne joined Thierry Frémaux of the Institut Lumière and Cannes Film Festival, Jan-Christopher Horak of the UCLA Film & Television Archive, and Sony’s Executive Vice President of asset management and film restoration Grover Crisp at the summit, held in downtown Los Angeles in March. Screenings of rare Lumière films and the 2014 restoration of A Fistful of Dollars (Sergio Leone, 1964) sponsored by the HFPA and the Film Foundation, rounded out the event. Coverage of the summit can be found here and here.

 

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PUBLICATIONS AND DVDs

Bad Film Histories: Ethnography and the Early Archive Interrogates Received Notions of Film Historiography

V&A Museum Acquires Vivien Leigh Archive

A recent monograph by Katherine Groo—editor of this column from 2012 through 2017—challenges film-historical methods through a focus on filmic objects typically classified as ethnography. Groo argues that the formal strategies, provenance, and preservation of these films radically resist assimilation into dominant narratives and paradigms of film history. Bad Film Histories investigates the failed drive for totalized visual knowledge of the world embodied in the hundreds of films shot by the Lumière Brothers’ agents around the globe and the vast image-gathering mission of Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète (1908-1931); interrogates the privileged status of dance in ethnographic film as a uniquely cinematic subject and destabilizing force in anthropology and film history; investigates the event of animal death in the ethnographic expedition film and the threat that these events pose to writing; considers the practice of intertitling in early ethnography as an attempt to enforce meaning and power that results in their destabilization; and reflects on how the material traces of physical damage and digital mediation embedded in ethnographic film materials challenges stable understandings of filmic indexicality. Groo’s provocative meditation grapples with neglected materials not to recuperate them for film history but to destabilize its often undertheorized discourse.

 

 

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ONLINE RESOURCES

Cineteca di Bologna’s Charlie Chaplin Archive Makes Close to 30,000 Items Freely Available

Cineteca di Bologna’s Charlie Chaplin Archive Makes Close to 30,000 Items Freely Available

Exhibitors’ Herald, 11 April 1925, 16. Media History Digital Library.

Just shy of the 130th anniversary of Charlie Chaplin’s birth in early April, the Cineteca di Bologna announced the launch of a new online archive that brings together over 180,000 pages of documents spanning seventy-five years in the comedian’s career. The vast cache of materials—including production documents, correspondence, press clippings, photographs, and ephemera such as sheet music—can be navigated by document type, film title, and year, or browsed via curated pages dedicated to topics like Chaplin’s early career and international travels. The cataloguing and digitization of Chaplin’s archives, preserved by his half-brothers Sydney Chaplin and Wheeler Dryden, has taken nearly two decades. The collection’s physical materials are now being preserved at the Archives de Montreux and Lausanne’s Musée de l’Elysée, both in Switzerland. Access the online collection here.


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Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin Debuts on Deutsche Kinematek Website

Marlene Dietrich Collection Berlin Debuts on Deutsche Kinematek Website

Marlene Dietrich, early 1930s. Photo by Eugene Robert Richee. Deutsche Kinematek.

A selection of documents from the Deutsche Kinematek’s vast collection of Marlene Dietrich’s papers, encompassing over 300,000 written pages, is now available through the institution’s website. Highlights of the 1,500 items currently online include photographs documenting Dietrich’s childhood in Berlin and her USO tours and stints in Germany during World War II, as well as costumes drawn from the more than three thousand textile objects held in the collection. The digital collection, initiated in 2017 with support from the Berlin Senate Committee for Culture and Europe, the Förderkreis des Museums für Film und Fernsehen, and the Forschungs- und Kompetenzzentrum Digitalisierung Berlin, is slated for expansion in the coming months.

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Jyoti Chitraban Digital Archive to Release 1,000 Assamese Songs Online

Jyoti Chitraban Digital Archive to Release 1,000 Assamese Songs Online

Poster for Joymoti (Jyoti Prasad Agarwala, 1935), the first film to be produced in Assamese. Music from the film’s soundtrack will be featured in a new online collection of songs in the language.

The Jyoti Chitraban Digital Archive, located in the government-owned studio campus of the same name in Guwahati, Assam, will release over a thousand digitized, remastered songs in Assamese, including popular film tunes, through its website, YouTube, and SoundCloud in April and May. The project’s leader and the head of the archive, electronic music artist Axl Hazarika, traveled across the state in search of rare cassette tapes and vinyl records to add to the institution’s music collection, which contains approximately 10,000 remastered tracks. Dedicated to the digitization of films, recorded sound, and photography from Assam, the Jyoti Chitraban Digital Archive was founded in 2017. See here and here for more on the project.

 

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National Library of Australia Launches Online Collection of Archived Websites

National Library of Australia Launches Online Collection of Archived Websites

In March, Australia’s National Library made its collection of archived web content dating from 1996 to the present publicly available online, sparking commentary on the excesses of 1990s web design. The searchable collection of archived sites can be accessed via the Trove portal, which aggregates digitized items held by Australian libraries and museums. The collection may also be browsed by means of thematic collections centered on topics such as political campaigns and the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

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Archival News” reports recent news highlights from the media archive community for the JCMS 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 Rielle Navitski, Theatre and Film Studies, University of Georgia, Fine Arts Building, Athens, GA, 30602-3154, email: rnavitsk@uga.edu. For news and finds from online media archives, follow @archivalnews on Twitter and Instagram.

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