Getty Acquires Miranda July’s ‘Joanie 4 Jackie’ Collection
In January, the Getty Research Institute announced that independent filmmaker Miranda July’s feminist film archive would be the latest addition to its collection.
July rose to prominence in the 1990s through Portland’s then-flourishing Riot Grrrl scene through her DIY feminist chainletter tape, Big Miss Moviola. It was July’s earliest effort at fostering the inclusivity she found lacking in Hollywood, and the then 21-year-old canvassed punk shows, universities, high schools, and local watering holes with pamphlets promising that if women submitted one self-made film along with five dollars, she would include them in the latest Big Moviola compilation.
Big Miss Moviola was later renamed Joanie 4 Jackie after a cease-and-desist letter from Moviola Digital, but the project’s momentum couldn’t be contained. It spread across the country—thanks in part to touring Riot Grrl staples like Bikini Kill and Heavens to Betsy passing out her pamphlet calls-to-action on the road—and cemented itself in history.
To read more about the project, see here and here. To explore the archive itself, visit joanie4jackie.com, an online archive of materials that also launched in January.
[Above: Miranda July in Portland, Ore., in 1995, the year she began her feminist video series Joanie 4 Jackie (then called Big Miss Moviola)]
University of Michigan Receives Donation of Orson Welles Scripts
Orson Welles’ daughter has given the University of Michigan dozens of the filmmaker's scripts, including many unpublished works from the 1950s and 1960s. The film and stage scripts—more than seventy in total—have been added to the University of Michigan Library’s Screen Arts Mavericks & Makers collection, an archive highlighting visionaries in the independent film genre.
“We have the largest collection of Orson Welles archival papers already, but this is a period we didn’t have as much from,” collection curator Philip Hallman said of the items given by Beatrice Welles. “This is a great puzzle piece that sort of finishes the puzzle.”
Beatrice said the materials she gave will complement the large archive Michigan already has. Along with scripts, the collection given by Beatrice Welles includes scrapbook and news clippings, family photographs, letters and telegrams.
[Above: Jeanne Moreau and Orson Welles in the 1965 film, Chimes at Midnight. Welles’s heavily annotated script for the film is among the items acquired by the University of Michigan from his youngest daughter, Beatrice Welles.]
Berkeley Library Acquires Chinese Film Studies Collection
The C.V. Starr East Asian Library at UC Berkeley has acquired the largest and most comprehensive Chinese film studies collection in North America.A comprehensive website gives scholars at UC Berkeley—and across the world —access to the materials, which represent the history of Chinese popular culture, media, and social life. The collection includes:
436 pre-1950 periodicals in 5,901 issues
239 post-1950 periodicals in 4,638 issues
21,233 lobby cards, in 2,194 sets
3,332 theater flyers
4,370 scripts, booklets, and novelettes
5,976 pieces of ephemera
9,214 photographic negatives and slides
4,145 stills and publicity photos
837 VHS tapes
2,450 articles and columns authored by Paul Fonoroff
5,637 Mao badges
The collection was donated by Paul Fonoroff, a Cleveland native who amassed over 70,000 movie posters, periodicals, photos, lobby cards, theater flyers and other movie ephemera while living in Beijing and Hong Kong. Among the rarest materials are items that come from film studios in Manchuria, a region that was occupied by the Japanese in 1931, and a movie magazine with a cover featuring Jiang Qing. Qing, a 1930s Chinese actress, eventually married Mao Zedong. Today, materials that feature “Madame Mao” have been deemed politically sensitive and access is tightly restricted.
The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin has obtained the archive of British theater and film actor Peter O’Toole. The extensive archive contains theater and film scripts along with O’Toole’s writings, including drafts, notes, and working material for his multi-volume memoir Loitering with Intent.
O’Toole, who died in 2013, received eight Academy Award nominations for his roles in Lawrence of Arabia (David Lean, 1962), Becket (Peter Glenville, 1964), The Lion in Winter (Anthony Harvey, 1968), Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Herbert Ross, 1969), The Ruling Class (Peter Medak, 1972), The Stunt Man (Richard Rush, 1980), My Favorite Year (Richard Benjamin, 1982) and Venus (Roger Michell, 2006). O’Toole also received an honorary Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for his lifetime body of work in film in 2002. In addition to his film work, O’Toole was also a distinguished stage actor who performed in the theater from the 1950s through 1999.
The collection is described as rich with correspondence offering insight into the relationships and workings of the theater and film communities of which he was a member. Correspondents include Michael Blakemore, Marlon Brando, Michael Caine, John Gielgud, Peter Hall, Katherine Hepburn, Dustin Hoffman, Jeremy Irons, Spike Milligan, Paul Newman, Trevor Nunn, Laurence Olivier, Harold Pinter, and Kevin Spacey, among many others.
The archive also includes a rich photographic record documenting all periods of O’Toole’s personal and professional life. These include diaries and notebooks, theater and film programs, memorabilia, audio recordings of his rehearsing lines and reciting poetry, awards, and a selection of iconic props and costume pieces, including his sword from the National Theater’s inaugural production of Hamlet, directed by Laurence Olivier.
Netflix to Restore and Release Unfinished Orson Welles Film
In March, Netflix announced that it would finance the restoration of Orson Welles’s unfinished film, The Other Side of the Wind. The project will be overseen by Frank Marshall, who worked on the original film.
Production on the film began in 1970 but was left unfinished after work ended in 1976. It starred John Huston as a veteran film-maker struggling to complete his final film while trying to compete with a new raft of younger directors. It also starred Dennis Hopper and Peter Bogdanovich, who will also consult on the restoration.
[Above: John Huston, Orson Welles, and Peter Bogdanovich take a break on the set of The Other Side of the Wind in the early 1970s. Photo by Steven Jaffe/The Welles-Kodar Collection, University of Michigan, Special Collections Library]
Dutch researchers at the Amsterdam-based EYE Film Institute have discovered one of the oldest extant Hungarian films: A Munkászubbony (The Work Jacket), first shown on January 12, 1915. Lost for decades, The Work Jacket is one of the longest Hungarian silent films of the era. The film, directed by István Bródy, stars Gyula Hegedűs, one of the most important Hungarian actors of the era.
Dutch researchers who found the silent film initially believed it to be of Austrian origin, due to the German writing found on the reel, which (incorrectly) identified the contents as a German production of Ferenc Lehár’s Cigányszerelem (Gypsy Love). When they viewed the film, however, they noticed that it was not, in fact, Lehár’s operetta, and after a period of deeper research they found that the content matched the description of The Work Jacket, which they found in the database of Hungarian film encyclopedia site hangosfilm.hu. Examining the film’s actors as well as extant articles written about Bródy’s silent drama, researchers identified the reel’s contents.
The Work Jacket will soon be sent to the Hungarian National Film Archives’ collection, where it will be restored and digitalized.
Read more about the film and its restoration here.
The NFB is aiming to achieve gender parity in key creative positions for animated, documentary, and interactive works in production as of 2020, according to government film commissioner and NFB chairpersonClaude Joli-Coeur. The initiative targets editing, cinematography, screenwriting and music composition and includes key creative positions related to animation and immersive/interactive storytelling, as well as positions such as art director, art designer and creative technologist.
Elsewhere, Screen Australia’s CEO Graeme Mason unveiled Doc0180—a new opportunity for emerging female documentary filmmakers. In partnership with News Digital Networks, Australia’s forthcoming new female content platform, six female directors will each be funded to make a three-minute documentary designed to make viewers reflect on topics important to Australian women. The selected filmmakers will each receive funding to make their Doco180 project and have three months to deliver the finished work. The documentary makers retain copyright of their work and, after a brief exclusivity period, are free to use their Doco180 project as they wish. Screen Australia will appoint an investment development manager to support each successful applicant.
For further details on both initiatives, read more here.
“There are so many films in need of restoration from all over the world,” said Scorcese. “We created the World Cinema Project to ensure that the most vulnerable titles don’t disappear forever. Over the past ten years the WCP has helped to restore films from Egypt, India, Cuba, the Philippines, Brazil, Armenia, Turkey, Senegal, and many other countries. Along the way, we’ve come to understand the urgent need to locate and preserve African films title by title in order to ensure that new generations of filmgoers can actually see these works and appreciate them.”
Irina Bokova, UNESCO director-general, said the effort would promote cultural diversity, facilitate access to African classics, and foster African creativity.
The project will support the restoration of an initial selection of fifty films as identified by FEPACI’s advisory board, made up of archivists, scholars, and filmmakers who are active in Africa. It will also conduct a survey to locate the best existing film elements for each title in African cinémathèques and film archives.
David Shepard, a film preservationist who restored hundreds of discarded, hidden, or forgotten films by Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, and F. W. Murnau (among so many others) died on January 31, 2017, in Medford, Oregon. He was 76.
Working for the American Film Institute and later for Blackhawk Films, which reproduced old films for the collectors’ market, Mr. Shepard began searching out movies that had been languishing in studio vaults or private collections and bringing them in for restoration. By trial and error, he developed techniques now used widely in commercial preservation laboratories. In 1989, after acquiring Blackhawk’s library, he created his own company, Film Preservation Associates.
One of his most stunning efforts was the restoration of the French filmmakerAbel Gance’s La Roue(“The Wheel”). Originally shown in 1923 over three days, it was cut down to two and half hours for commercial distribution, and the original was subsequently lost. Mr. Shepard, with the archivist Eric Lange, reassembled a four-and-a-half-hour version from five different prints, released in 2008 by Flicker Alley.
See the NYTimes for more on David Shepard’s life and his contributions to film preservation.
In March, UCLA presented its annual Festival of Preservation. This year’s program included a mix of classic Hollywood and independent features, documentaries, and television work, reflecting the Archive’s vast collections of film and video material.
The featured silent film restoration for this year was Good References (Roy William Neill, 1920), a romantic comedy starring Constance Talmadge. A single nitrate print of Good References was found in Prague and repatriated to UCLA for restoration. Its presentation at the festival may have been the first public screening of this film in this country since its original release.
There was also a strong emphasis at this year’s festival on “programmers”, films from the 1930s designed to play on the top or bottom of double bills, whether comedies, dramas or horror. The Vampire Bat (Frank Strayer, 1933), for example, is a pre-Code horror film produced by Majestic Pictures to exploit the popularity of its stars, Fay Wray and Lionel Atwill. Another programmer not seen for decades is John Auer’s sci-fi, crime drama S.O.S. Tidal Wave (1939), about the power of the new medium of television to disseminate false information.
The festival also presented restorations of a number of independent films, including two Sundance favorites, River of Grass (dir. Kelly Reichardt, 1994) and The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996).
For further details, including a complete program, see here. A review of the festival can be found at the LA Times.
[Above: Still from Sleepers East (Kenneth MacKenna, 1934) (UCLA Film & Television Archive)]
The George Eastman Museum presented the third Nitrate Picture Show onMay 5–7, 2017,at the Dryden Theatre in Rochester, NY. The schedule for this year’s festival included ten programs of feature-length and short films from twelve international archives and collections. The Dryden Theatre is one of four theaters in the United States, and the only one outside of California, that is able to screen nitrate prints.
“The Nitrate Picture Show is unlike any other festival of film preservation in that its ‘rules of the game’ are far more challenging—and often unpredictable,” said Paolo Cherchi Usai, Senior Curator, Moving Image Department, George Eastman Museum. “
In addition to film screenings, the event also featured several speakers, including Hisashi Okajima, chief curator of the National Film Center in Tokyo, andAlexander Horwath, director of the Österreichisches Filmmuseum (Austrian Film Museum).
Read more about the event here. To view the complete schedule, see here.
The Academy Film Archive and the UCLA Film & Television Archive hosted the 73rd FIAF Congress from April 28 through May 3, 2017. The theme of this year’s symposium was Latin America and Hollywood. The event was paired with a Second Century Forum dedicated to Curating Cinema Artifacts.
Both the symposium and the general assembly were held at the Academy’s Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood, with a further day of visits at both the UCLA Film & Television Archive at The Packard Humanities Institute and The Getty Center. A few days prior to the Congress, the Academy's Margaret Herrick Library presented the conference Documenting Cinema: Film Librarianship in the 21st Century.
For further event details, please see here and here.
The Boston public broadcaster WGBH, on behalf of the American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB), recently announced the launch of FIX IT, an online game that allows members of the public to help AAPB professional archivists improve the searchability and accessibility of more than 40,000 hours of digitized public media content. The AAPB is a collaboration between the Library of Congress and WGBH to coordinate a national effort to preserve at-risk public media before its content is lost to posterity and provide a central web portal for access to the unique programming that public stations have aired over the past sixty years.
According to its creators, FIX IT is designed for grammar enthusiasts, historians, and public media fans. FIX IT players can earn points by identifying and correcting errors in machine-generated transcriptions that correspond to AAPB audio. They can listen to clips and follow along with the corresponding transcripts, which sometimes misidentify words or generate faulty grammar or spelling.
University of Calgary Announces Amateur Movie Database
Charles Tepperman, Associate Professor of Communication, Media, and Film at the University of Calgary, recently announced the launch of a beta version of the Amateur Movie Database (AMDB). The AMDB is a tool for researching amateur films, filmmakers, and movie clubs. The database assembles information about amateur films, filmmakers and clubs to help researchers find out more about amateur movies, to help archivists identify and contextualize amateur films, and to help all interested parties learn more about world of filmmaking.
Films included in the database are winners of amateur movie contests or works that have been identified as significant by archives and historians. There are currently 1300 film records online, plus several hundred filmmaker and club records. The website also features short articles exploring different facets of amateur film history and culture.
To learn more about the project and its developers, see here.
The Met Makes 375,000 High-Res Images Available in Public Domain
In February, the Metropolitan Museum of Art announced that more than 375,000 images found in the museum’s online collection are now available for free and unrestricted use. The high-resolution images are licensed under Creative Commons, the non-profit organization that facilities the public use of some 1.1 billion digital works.
The announcement was an update to the Met’s 2014 initiative placing hundreds of thousands of images into the public domain, but the expanded policy, called Open Access, now allows for unrestricted usage including commercial purposes. The vast library of paintings, historical objects, photographs, textiles, and prints can now be utilized anywhere for any purpose. All images available through the new Open Access policy are searchable on the Met’s website. Simply check the “Public Domain Artworks” option under “Show only” and start searching.
[Above: Georgia O’Keefe (Alfred Stieglitz, ca. 1920); Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection; Gift of Georgia O'Keeffe, through the generosity of The Georgia O'Keeffe Foundation and Jennifer and Joseph Duke, 1997]
The Sigmund Freud Collection at the Library of Congress has been digitized and is now available online. The online collection, with more than 20,000 items, contains the personal papers of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939), the neurologist and founder of psychoanalysis.
The digitization of Freud’s papers was made possible by a grant from The Polonsky Foundation, a UK-registered charity, which primarily supports cultural heritage, scholarship in the humanities and social sciences, and innovation in higher education and the arts. Its principal activities include the digitization of significant collections at leading libraries (e.g., British Library; Bibliothèque nationale de France; Bodleian Library, Oxford; Cambridge University Library; New York Public Library; and Vatican Apostolic Library).
Freud’s papers at the Library are part of a larger body of materials related to psychoanalysis and the Freudian movement donated by the Sigmund Freud Archives. The Sigmund Freud Archives was created to collect and preserve for scholarship the work of Freud and others in the field of psychoanalysis. Additional items were obtained through purchase, transfer, and gift or bequest of others, including Freud’s daughter, Anna Freud.
The collection reveals Freud’s life and work, including his early medical and clinical training; his relationship with family, friends, colleagues, students, and patients; his association with early psychoanalytic societies; his perspectives on analytical training; and his numerous writings. It contains family papers, correspondence, writings, legal documents and certificates, notebooks, and other materials of a personal nature encompassing his life and career.
Read more about the collection and its digitization here.
BFI, Sage Publishing to Bring Soviet Archive Online
The BFI National Archive and Adam Matthew, an imprint of SAGE Publishing, which issues digital primary source collections for the humanities and social sciences, will issue three a three-part online series entitled Socialism on Film: The Cold War and International Propaganda. The modules series will include selected documentary films, features, and newsreels captured by filmmakers from the former USSR, Vietnam, Cuba, China, the former German Democratic Republic (East Germany), and Eastern Europe. Much of it has previously been unavailable in the West, some because it was banned from general release in Britain.
The films have been digitized from original 16mm and 35mm film reels in the BFI archives’ extensive ETV-Plato Films collection, compiled by British communist Stanley Forman in the years after the Second World War. He had extensive contacts within the socialist world, and almost all the films he collected were produced in the communist world and then issued in English-language versions in the West. Films from the collection were shown in private screenings by political groups, but in many cases have had no broader public distribution.
Forman donated his collection to the British Film Institute upon his retirement in 2002, not long before he died.
BFI and Adam Matthew are issuing the films through an online server with accompanying full, searchable transcripts. Read more here and here. Access the project here.
[Above: Still from Nuclear Plague (1988), BFI Collection]
“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