April 3, 2014
A lovely symbol of the morning after Orphans Amsterdam. Tulips (orange, no less) outside the houseboat Anna, on (in?) which Bill Brand and I stayed during the symposium. A nice 20-minute stroll to and from EYE each day and night.
More news, follow-up, and documentation coming to this blog soon. But for now it must be said that Amsterdam and EYE were ideal hosts for NYU's Orphan Film Symposium. And the event itself was a grand success. Exciting rediscoveries, premieres of new works and new restorations, captivating presentations, eclectic (very) variety of content, lots of surprises, happy serendipities, genuine joy, and dare we say love amongst the symposiasts / orphanistas.
Let me take this first reawakening moment to recount just one of the rewarding rhymes that played out, connecting beginning and end in serendipitous manner. It involves animation legend Felix the Cat. Neither screening was on the original 'run of show' (or draaiboek, they/we/Anna Dabrowska say in Dutch).
At the Monday morning Orphans Orientation on Obsolescence, I opted to begin with a screening of the four minutes of outtakes from USC's Fox Movietone News Collection piece catalogued as Josephine Baker Visits Volendam (Aug. 24, 1928, viewable via the MIRC DVR). It was too apt not to show. Greg Wilsbacher kindly scanned the 35mm.
|Courtesy of University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections|
The story of how the fun Baker footage got to South Carolina includes a story of its origins from an Amsterdam-based company called Mac-Djorski-Films. Turns out that Djorski was a pseudonym used by George Debels, a pioneer of Dutch animation. And that EYE has put a few of his early works online at Film in the Netherlands). After opening night, I decided we needed to see a sampling of Debels animation after seeing Josphine Baker on the big screen. So I took the liberty of cribbing from the site and making a slide that included this 18 seconds of MP4:
When I was still a young girl, I had about twenty Felix the Cat toys, from tiny wooden ones to large stuffed Felixes that my parents brought back from France. I had a Felix the Cat costume that my French governess made for me to attend a girlfriend's costume party. Also, I had a 16mm film by Otto Messmer called Felix Out of Luck. So, I would sit watching my Felix film in my Felix the Cat costume, surrounded by my entire collection of Felix the Cats.
-- Shirley Clarke quoted in The New American Filmmakers Series, no. 39, Whitney Museum of American Art, Dec. 5-27, 1987.
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|Photo from Radio Age (April 1956), harvested from the awesome Lantern <http://lantern.mediahist.org>.|
|PPT slide no. 20 of 48 (March 31, 2014)|