Nov 5, 2016

Nov. 19 Screening: THE INNER WHIRLED OF ORPHAN FILMS

Orphans at MoMA
The Inner Whirled of Orphan Films
Saturday, November 19, 2016
4:15 p.m  [tickets here]
Museum of Modern Art, Titus Theater 2
11 W. 53rd Street, New York

Part of To Save and Project: The 14th MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation

Combining highlights from NYU’s 10th Orphan Film Symposium and its theme of sound with even newer rediscoveries, this eclectic program of short films is inspired by the creativity and experimentation found among works not made for theaters. "The Inner Whirled" is more than an allusion to the whirling of sound and of film projectors. The word play is also from experimental film maestro Ken Jacobs, who called his quartet of short films with Jack Smith The Whirled (1956-63). In 1969, Jacobs and filmmaker Larry Gottheim founded the Department of Cinema at SUNY Binghamton, where an avant garde film culture flourished. Among the eclectic mix of movies that entered the classroom there was an outlier that captivated Gottheim, the educational film The Inner World of Aphasia (1968), from Cleveland-based Edward Feil Productions.

We've just learned that the creative team of Ed and Naomi Feil will make their way from Eugene, Orgeon, to New York for this special screening. Ed began making films in World War II and went on to make dozens of nonfiction films -- documentary, educational, scientific, technical, industrial. When he and Naomi married in 1964, they began collaborating on scripts, editing, and soundtracks. She gives a powerful performance as the protagonist of The Inner World of Aphasia. 


Katie Trainor (MoMA) & Dan Streible (NYU MIAP)
Welcome & introductions

John Klacsmann (Anthology Film Archives)
“Jiffy” Film: SMPTE P16-PP-C (197?) 5 min.
Produced for the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.
          Anthology's archivist introduces its rare vintage 16mm print of a test film meant to be seen and heard only by projectionists.

James Irsay (WBAI-FM)
Der Bajazzo: Duett der Nedda (ca. 1908) 3 min.
Produced by Deutsche Bioscop, Germany. Cast unknown.
Vocal by Emilie Herzog and Baptist Hoffmann. Gramophone Monarch Record, 1907.
Restored by DIF - Deutsches Filminstitut, Anke Mebold.
          The host of WBAI's "Morning Irsay," pianist, music historian, and raconteur sets the context for this recent recoupling of a 1907 phonograph recording (a duet from Pagliacci) and a 1908ish German motion picture  meant to be projected (more or less in synch) with the sound.

Deutsches Filminstitut - DIF                                                           Cinémathèque français
Premier Nocturne en fa # majeur de Chopin, Interprété par Victor Gille (1928)
Produced by Gaumont-Petersen-Poulsen, France. 4 min.
Restored by Cinémathèque Française, Céline Ruivo.
          Irsay also contextualizes this newly restored film of pianist Gille (1884-1964)

Robert Anen (NYU MIAP) &  Rachael Stoeltje (Indiana University Libraries)
[NY Fair 1964-1965]
Home movie filmed by Edward Feil. 11 min.
Preserved by Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive (IULMIA).
          The director of IULMIA and the NYU student-intern explain how the Edward and Naomi Feil Collection came to Indiana this year and how a home movie reel found there helped the Library of Congress reassemble the parts of of a multi-screen Eames production at the World's Fair.

Frames from Feil fair film.
Left: Naomi, Ed, and his camera captured in reflection; right, in IBM's Ovoid Theater for the Eames multi-screen Think.

George Willeman
(Library of Congress)
Think (1964) 10 min.
Directed by Ray Eames and Charles Eames for the IBM Pavilion, New York World's Fair. Reconstructed in 2016 by Amy Gallick at the Library of Congress.

Popular Science, July 1964.
The Ovoid, where Think was projected and in which Feil filmed some of it in black-and-white 16mm. 

Ken Feil
(Emerson College) with special guests Ed & Naomi Feil 
The Inner World of Aphasia (1968)  24 min.
Filmed, directed, and edited by Edward R. Feil.
Written by Naomi Feil. Cast: Naomi Feil as Marge Nelson. Named to the National Film Registry in 2015. Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive.

End credits. Naomi Feil (right) as nurse Marge Nelson.
Genevieve Havemeyer-King (New York Public Library; NYU MIAP '15)
EPH 4/27/16 (1979) 26 min.
Directed by Ephraim Horowitz.
Scanned by Colorlab for Fandor and the NYU Orphan Film Symposium’s Amateur Cinema Project. Named one of the Ten Best amateur productions of 1979.

Frame from the opening sequence of EPH 4/27/16. 
The 1964-65 New York World's Fair, constructed at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, may not have had the cultural impact of the 1939 World's Fair, but it was a touchstone for many of its 50 million visitors. Thousands shot home movies there, Horowitz as well as Feil. Ephraim Horowitz began his lifelong hobby of filmmaking in the 1930s and shot beautiful color 16mm film at the '39-40 fair. His movie club friend Richard Post told me recently that Eph lived and worked near the fairgrounds -- and therefore frequently lunched there during '64-65. These World's Fairs became part of his identity, including that side of him that was a collector of memorabilia. Shots of his collectibles -- coins, photographs, films, ephemera -- constitute much of EPH 4/27/16.

Ephraim Horowitz also appears in a short documentary: Amanda Murray's World Fair (2013), viewable at worldfairfilm.com. It begins with Horowitz's 1939-40 footage, with him talking in the 2000s. We see him at home and among the objects he lays hands on is a can of 16mm film labeled "64/65 Fair."  Compare to the label on the can of film Robert Anen saw in the Indiana University archive while processing the Feil Collection this summer. (Here's that story as told in the New York Times earlier this week.)

Top: Horowitz's hands as seen in a frame from Amanda Murray's World Fair.
Bottom: Snapshot of Ed Feil's labeled can. (See Anen's IULMIA blog post of August 5.) 


As described in my blog post on Horowitz's 100th birthday, EPH 4/27/16 caught the interest of we amateur film history researchers and seekers because it was on the filmography "The 'Ten Best' Winners, 1930-1994 from the Amateur Cinema League and American International Film & Video Festival," published in Alan D. Kattelle's "The Amateur Cinema League and Its Films," Film History 15, no. 2 (2003). The whereabouts of surviving prints of those more than 600 titles are almost entirely unknown. Seeing a film from the Ten Best list is rare. The blog post of 4/27/2016 also describes Genevieve Havemeyer's success in tracking down the Horowitz films some three years after her fellow NYU MIAP graduate Kimberly Tarr told me about this unique filmmaker.

As with the 2014 Orphans at MoMA program -- An Amateur Cinema League of Nations -- this showcase is the culmination of years of collaboration among archivists, curators, scholars, and students dedicated to finding and saving these orphan films. In addition to the students and alumni of NYU's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation master's degree program, others who have been working on the history of amateur films include Charles Tepperman, University of Calgary professor and architect of a grant-funded three-year project, "Mapping an Alternative Film History: A Database of Significant Amateur Films (1928-1971)."



Home movies and amateur films have always been part of the Orphan Film Symposium. As it happens, the "Orphans" origin story includes a tangential connection to the 1964 New York World's Fair. The final dinner reception at the first symposium in 1999 took place atop the University of South Carolina's Capstone House. The dining space called the Top of Carolina is a rotating restaurant with grand views of the campus and the city of Columbia. It was too novel not to put to use at the conclusion of the four-day soiree. The novelty proved a hit. People began to put notes to one another on the window sill, whose rotation carried them to neighboring tables. Funny, even flirtatious, notes and totems multiplied as the evening went on. The symposium finale returned to this space a couple more times, with some visiting New Yorkers choosing to disbelieve the placard noting that the entire golden rotating restaurant had been moved from its original site in Queens at the 1964-65 World's Fair.

Here's what the University of South Carolina website says.

"Housing the first, and only, revolving restaurant in North and South Carolina, Capstone gave the area an attraction comparable to those in several major cities. The rotating platform and mechanism were acquired from an exhibit at the [1964] New York World's Fair and were gifts of a South Carolina manufacturer, Robert G. Wilson."

In 2011, I caught a short glimpse of the rotating restaurant in a home movie shot at the '64 fair and shown at the Queens Museum during Home Movie Day. Several NYU MIAP students co-organized that event, which transpired during the time when Karan Sheldon (Northeast Historic Film) was working with the museum and George Eastman House on a grand-funded project to document and preserve amateur films shot at the 1939-40 World's Fair.

Ephraim Horowitz, who passed in 2012, was a long-time member of the Queens Museum [of Art]. And it wouldn't be surprising if his Flushing fair films wound up in its permanent collection.



-- Dan Streible 
Director, NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program
Director, the Orphan Film Symposium