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October News Brief

Monday, October 3, 2011   (0 Comments)
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SCMS October News Brief

The focus of the October SCMS News Brief is Archives.

Archival activities are a vital part of the SCMS mission:

· One of the Society’s standing committees is Media Archives.

· SCMS has representatives on the US National Film Preservation Board ( and members are polled annually for suggestions to the US National Film Registry (

· SCMS shares institutional memberships with our sister society, AMIA (The Association of Moving Image Archivists)

· Each issue of Cinema Journal contains an Archival Notes section which is accessible through the SCMS website (

In addition to these institutional resources, SCMS maintains an archive of its own history, which includes important resources that help us chart not only the history of the society—as it transformed from the Society of Cinematologists (1959) to the Society for Cinema Studies (1969) to the current Society for Cinema and Media Studies (2002)—but the history of our discipline. The SCMS Archive is held at Stanford University (

Donations from SCMS members past and present of papers and records of SCMS activities are always welcome. We are especially interested in records relating to Caucuses, Scholarly Interest Groups, and Committees (e.g., minutes of meetings).

Donations of photographs taken by members at annual conferences would be especially welcome.

Inquires may be directed to the SCMS Archivist, Michael Zryd, York University, Department of Film, CFT 223, 4700 Keele St., Toronto, ON M3J 1P3 Canada; 1-647-430-8680;

Report of the Media Archives Committee on National Film Registry Nominations:

We received and relayed to a very appreciative Matthew Bernstein (our rep on the board) the following suggestions:

From the Experimental Film group:

GENTLY DOWN THE STREAM (Su Friedrich, 1981; 14m, B&W 16mm): This is a b/w short film, meant to be screened at 16fps, that was a vital film in the history of the American avant-garde, bringing together the personal, psychological cinema of Brakhage et al's 1950s tradition with the formal rigour of the 1970s structural film, all to the end of expressing and representing newly emergent lesbian filmmaking in the 1980s. The filmmaker, Su Friedrich, has stated that it is difficult to find printing stocks that capture the deep blacks of the film so preservation is in order.

From the Queer Caucus:

1. FLAMING CREATURES, (Jack Smith, 1962-3)

Proclaimed "the single most important American avant-garde film ever" by Village Voice critic J. Hoberman, Jack Smith's FLAMING CREATURES was a significant inspiration for Andy Warhol, John Waters, and Tony Conrad, as well as a host of other artists across various media. Smith's film, with its groundbreaking representation of unconventional, indeterminate sexualities in an era of gender conformity, not only jumpstarted the queer underground of the 1960s and '70s and motivated scholarly discourse on and cultural practices of camp, pop and drag, it also paved the way for innovation in the broader American avant-garde arts scene of the latter part of the 20th Century. The film was the key text in a series of important legal debates on obscenity and censorship, and a defining film of the New American Cinema.

2. FIREWORKS (Kenneth Anger, 1947)

A groundbreaking film for the representation of homosexuality in American cinema, Fireworks is the first film of Kenneth Anger, one of the most important avant-garde film directors of the twentieth century. The film integrates important European avant garde influences, such as Jean Cocteau, with the queer subculture of mid-century Southern California. Fireworks has been a major influence on queer and avant-garde film in the US and around the world, and is frequently heralded as one of the most significant works of US avant-garde cinema.

3. PARIS IS BURNING (Jennie Livingston, 1990)

This documentary by Jennie Livingston portrays the black and Latino queer subcultures of drag balls and the events' participants. The film became a surprise popular hit, raising intense critical debate about the politics of representation and audience response, and has been central to academic work on queer theory and in critical race studies. Although controversial, the film has remained a cultural touchstone for queer audiences, particularly for queers of color, transgender people, and youth. Its inclusion on the National Film Registry would not only reflect its significant cultural status, it would also contribute to the diversity of the Registry's list (in terms of documentaries, films by women, queer subjects, and representations of people of color).

Mark Cooper

Chair, Media Archives Committee

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