Oct 12, 2018

“Orphans of New York” at Film Forum

Ephraim Horowitz in his amateur film, 1979  &  What's Happening in Harlem? (CPUSA,  1949)

Orphans of New York.” That's what Bruce Goldstein, Director of Repertory Programming at New York's influential* nonprofit indie moviehouse Film Forum, entitles our show of 22 entertaining but previously neglected films shot around the city from 1899 to 1979.

 Join us on Sunday or Monday.

Tickets are available online at filmforum.org or at the box office.
Film Forum, 209 W. Houston St.
Sunday, Oct. 14, 3:10 pm
repeats Monday, Oct. 15, 7:00 pm

Introductions by Bruce Goldstein (Film Forum) & Dan Streible (NYU Cinema Studies) + special guests
Piano accompaniment for silent films by Steve Sterner

Library of Congress Paper Print Collection, new scans and other early cinema:
* Across Brooklyn Bridge (1899) American Mutoscope Co.
* New Brooklyn to New York Via Brooklyn Bridge no. 1 (1899) Edison Co.
* What Happened on Twenty-third Street, New York City (1901) Edison
Panorama of Flatiron Building (1903) AM&B
Opening Ceremonies, New York Subway, Oct. 27, 1904 (1904) Edison 
* The Deceived Slumming Party (1908) Biograph
* Actors' Fund Field Day, at the Polo Grounds, New York City, August 19, 1910 (1910) Vitagraph Co. of America, with Bert Williams and Annie Oakley

Dawson City Collection newsreel fragments, Library and Archives Canada, selected by Bill Morrison (maker of the acclaimed Dawson City: Frozen Time.)
* The “Uplift” of the Horse (Universal Animated Weekly, 1917)
* Negroes’ Protest a Silent Parade (Universal Animated Weekly, 1917)
* Anarchists Bomb Wall Street (British Canadian Pathé, 1920)

* [Elsa and Albert Einstein at Warner Bros. – First National Studio 1931] a never-ever-released, charming-as-all-get-out document with the Einsteins enjoying a flying motor trip around the world. Becca Bender found the nitrate reel in a family collection long stored at the archive of Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

* a new 35mm print of the storied NYC Street Scenes and Noises outtakes (1929) Fox Movietone News, University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections

* Broadway by Day (1932) Magic Carpet of Movietone, 16mm

* New York University (ca. 1952-65?) Willard Van Dyke, for the NYU Alumni Association, reel 3 of 3 of an otherwise lost film.

* The Making of Pelham One Two Three (1974) featurette narrated by NYPD detective-turned-actor Carmine Foresta. 16mm print from the Academy Film Archive.

Young Filmmakers Foundation, 16mm prints
* Black Faces (1970) Studio Museum, Harlem
* Life in New York (1969) Alfonso Pagan & Luis Vale
* Ellis Island (1975) Steve Siegel & Phil Buehler
Sunday intro by Elena Rossi-Snook (New York Public Library for the Performing Arts)

* What’s Happening in Harlem? (1949) Communist Party USA. A hard-hitting political short about the exploitation of and violence against African American and Puerto Rican residents of Harlem.

* Venus and Adonis (1935) Harry Dunham &  J. V. D. Bucher's amateur surrealist film. Music by Paul Bowles.

* EPH 4/27/16 (1979) Ephraim Horowitz's masterful amateur film memoir.
Monday intro by Kimberly Tarr (NYU Libraries). (Read about its preservation in time for the centennial of Eph's birth.)

* Three American Beauties (1906) A stencil-colored Edison beauty with the complete original ending recently restored by the National Library of Norway.

SOURCES (It takes a village.)
Academy Film Archive
Albert Einstein Archives, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Craig Baldwin / Other Cinema Archives
estate of Ephraim Horowitz (via Fandor.com)
Library and Archives Canada (via Bill Morrison)
Library of Congress
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Museum of Modern Art
National Library of Norway
New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
New York University Libraries
Prelinger Archives
Richard Scheckman
University of Iowa Libraries (via Andrew Sherburne, Tommy Haines, Saving Brinton)
University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections

Thanks to the film whisperers and NYU alumni of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program whose research led to some of these discoveries: Becca Bender, Genevieve Havemeyer-King, and Blake McDowell.

* See Sara Aridi, "How Influential Is Film Forum? Christopher Nolan and Others Explain," New York Times, July 31, 2018,

May 10, 2018

Museo del Cine: Syncing Stephen Horne & "Galería Cinematográfica Infantil" (1927)

This delightful GIF became an emblem of the 2018 Orphan Film Symposium devoted to love. 

GIF from Galería Cinematográfica Infantil 1927 
Courtesy of @MuseoDelCineBA 

It then became an Orphans 11 T-shirt.

Cappa in T-shirt. 
Archivist Carolina Cappa introduces the film. 

A happy marriage resulted from the April 14th screening at the 11th Orphan Film Symposium -- and the Museo del Cine has already debuted it online.  Stephen Horne played musical accompaniment (accordion, piano, and glockenspiel) for the museum's restoration of the silent film Galería Cinematográfica Infantil (ca. 1927), introduced by Carolina Cappa.  The Buenos Aires team has married that raw live New York recording, complete with audience laughter and applause,  to the newly-restored 12-minute portrait of a hundred kids living in the town of General Pico, La Pampa, Argentina, all filmed by Domingo Filippini

Enjoy it on a big screen!

Apr 9, 2018

Love ahead!

This just went out to everyone registered to attend the Orphan Film Symposium on Love. 

Gentle colleagues:
A first greeting and informational note to everyone registered for the NYU Orphan Film Symposium at Museum of the Moving Image, April 11-14. An exciting week of Love ahead! The dates and times on the Orphans 11 booklet (attached) match what is published at NYU.edu/orphanfilm.

Enter MoMI at  36-01 35 Ave. (at 37 Street) in Astoria, Queens.

All symposium events are in the museum, with the exception of Thursday’s catered dinner (6pm at nearby Zenon Taverna). You will also get a separate email about visiting the new Kodak film lab, a short walk from the museum, on Wednesday before the symposium’s opening reception (7pm at MoMI). You can sign up to schedule your visit individually.

Registration: Pick up name badge & stuff at the Registration table (left of the lobby as you enter). Please wear your Orphans name badge to ease access to the events, including the meals. Register whenever you first arrive, regardless of the day or time.

7:00 pm MoMI Reception (wine & hors d’oeuvres; thanks, Kodak!)
8:00 pm Opening screening (early Jim Henson, two never-seen films of Einstein, Girl Scouts in 1926, home movies from the inventor of Kodachrome!

Thursday, Friday, & Saturday: 9:30 am start time, with screenings at 8:00pm nightly. Dinner breaks 6pm. We cater dinner Thursday (Zenon) and Saturday (MoMI). Friday is “dinner on your own.” We’ll have a printed list of restaurants within walking distance to assure you have time to get back for the 8pm screening. The museum’s “Where to Eat in Astoria” is here.
            Coffee/tea will be available all day near the registration table, with light nosh before 9:30am. Catered lunches in the museum each day. (For other food and drinks on your own, the museum’s café is open all afternoon.)

Getting to MoMI: The nearest (and most reliable) subway stop is called STEINWAY, with the M & R trains stopping there (Steinway St. & 34th Avenue in Queens). The E train connects to M & R. Less than 5 minutes to walk from STEINWAY to the museum.
           Less reliable but near MoMI is the BROADWAY station (Broadway & 31st Street, Queens) on the N & W trains. (The W stops there only on weekdays.) To verify service changes check The Weekender site.
          Although car service can be expensive from Manhattan, it is quite affordable from other subway stations, such as Queensboro Plaza. Smart phone apps are generally reliable guides, even with recent subway changes. The MoMI Travel Directions are detailed for all modes and routes.

There is no central symposium hotel, although many of you are staying at The Paper Factory Hotel. Here's the Orphans guide to Hotels near Museum of the Moving Image.

See you soon!

Dan Streible
NYU Orphan Film Symposium director (917) 754-1401

Apr 4, 2018

Lichtspiel • Ernst • 17.5

When Brigitte Paulowitz of Lichtspiel / Kinemathek (Bern, Switzerland) films from the Richard Ernst Collection of 17.5mm and 35mm Family Films, 1914-1932, we'll see thirty minutes of sophisticated home movies.  And one show-at-home film the grandfather bought, a French travelogue of the Philippines. 

She tells us that the English translation of the intertitles in Aux îles Philippines (Pathé, 1914) are: 

  T1:The ferryman
  T2: Banks of the river Pasig
  T3: Return from the market
  T4: Hemp being the principal industry in the Philippines, the ropemakers are numerous
  T5: Laundry
  T6: Bathing children

Although we won't get to take advantage of the meticulously produced High Frame Rate DCP the Kinemathek has produced, we'll see some handsome scans of these unique films, re-creating what a home movie program might've looked like in the Ernst home three generations ago. 

Honeymoon trip to the Soviet Union in 1932, as well as a purchased reel (ca. 1921) that has a shot of Trotsky!

Leningrad 1932

Honoring Mrs. Alice B. Russell Micheaux, April 11, in Rye, New York

The Orphan Film Symposium begins Wednesday evening, April 11. During that same morning Terri Francis and Lina Accurso have organized this significant event in nearby Rye, New York.  They will also talk about the Alice B. Russell Micheaux project on Saturday, April 14, 9:30am, as part of the Orphan Film Symposium at Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens, NYC.  They will be joined by film historian Charlene Regester of the University of North Carolina.

Terri shares the news below and invites you to this special event.

Honoring Mrs. Alice B. Russell Micheaux
from the website of Indiana University Black Film Center / Archive

Through the efforts of BFC/A director Terri Francis, independent silent film historian Lina Accurso, and a generous community of individual donors, arrangements are in place to set a memorial headstone at the unmarked grave of Mrs. Alice B. Russell Micheaux in 2018.

Mrs. Micheaux was a pioneering film actress and film producer, as well as the second wife of renowned African American filmmaker, Oscar Micheaux. Alice Micheaux performed in The Broken Violin (1927), and in Oscar’s films including Murder in Harlem (1935), God’s Step Children (1938) and The Betrayal (1948). She collaborated with her husband as script supervisor and casting associate on Lying Lips (1939) and miscellaneous crew on Swing! (1938), Murder in Harlem (1935), Ten Minutes to Live (1932) and The Girl from Chicago (1932).

Mrs. Micheaux spent her final years as a ward of the state suffering from dementia, and was buried in 1985 in an unmarked pauper’s grave at the Greenwood Union Cemetery in Rye, New York.

On April 11, 2018, at 11:00 am, we invite you to gather at the site in Greenwood Union Cemetery, Rye, NY, for a meaningful remembrance of Mrs. Micheaux’s life and her vital contributions to early African American cinema as a producer, actress, script supervisor, and spouse to Oscar Micheaux. We plan to honor Mrs. Micheaux with a floral arrangement, music from Jasmine Muhammad, and a blessing from Rev. Martha Cruz, a member of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, local to Rye. Please join us and share the event information linked here.

Due to the long New York winter, we unfortunately will not be able to pour the foundation for the rose quartz marker on this occasion, but it will be in place by the anniversary of Mrs. Micheaux’s birth on June 30.

About BFC/A
The Black Film Center/Archive at Indiana University was established in 1981 as the first archival repository dedicated to collecting, preserving, and making available historically and culturally significant films by and about black people. The BFC/A's primary objectives are to promote scholarship on black film and to serve as an open resource for scholars, researchers, students, and the general public; to encourage creative film activity by independent black filmmakers; and to undertake and support research on the history, impact, theory, and aesthetics of black film traditions.

Symposium info at www.nyu.edu/orphanfilm.

Mar 26, 2018

Leaders in the Amateur Cinema League of Nations

Notes by Dan Streible

As we are about to celebrate and screen amateur films from around the world at the Orphan Film Symposium on Love, today Thomas Novotney of Novo Digital Media posted this found compilation of leaders made by the Amateur Cinema League during its run (1926-1954). 

And here's a piece I wrote in 2014, inspired by all the ACL leaders appearing on my radar at the time the Museum of Modern Art host an Orphan Film screening we called "An Amateur Cinema League of Nations"  A session of the same title appears, with all new content, at the 11th Orphan Film Symposium.  A true league of nations with films from Mexico, Estonia, German, and (presented by a Canadian) Czechoslovakia.

Thursday, April 12, 2018
11:20 – 1:15 pm  An Amateur League of Nations

Charles Tepperman (U of Calgary) Příběh vojáka (A Soldier’s Story; Čeněk Zahradníček & Vladimír Šmejkal, 1934) and the 1938 International Amateur Movie Show

Alexander Stark (Philipps U, Marburg) “Help us help!”: German Postwar Charity Films by Elisabeth Wilms. Schaffende in Not (Working People in Trouble, 1948) 

Eva Näripea (National Archives of Estonia) Forbidden[?] Love Behind the Iron Curtain: Peeter Tooming’s Sentimentaalne novell (A Sentimental Short Story, 1966)

Tzutzumatzin Soto (Cineteca Nacional México) Love at the (Permanent) Time of Political Repression in Mexico: Hare Krishna (Alfredo Gurrola, 1973)

Full symposium schedule and registration information at NYU.edu/OrphanFilm.

Mar 25, 2018

Orphans at MoMI, 2012 / 2018

Looking Back: Orphans 8
Made to Persuade (2012)

Notes by Frannie Trempe

In anticipation of the 11th Orphan Film Symposium to be held at Museum of the Moving Image, this post looks back at the last time the biennial event took place at the venue in Queens, New York.

Six years ago, the museum served as home for Orphans 8. As with all iterations of the symposium, Orphans 8 showcased a wide array of rediscovered and once-neglected archival treasures—presented both on celluloid and digital projection. Academics, archivists, students, filmmakers, and other moving image enthusiasts from around the world gathered for four days of screenings, presentations, discussions, and meals—all spent together to foster the unique Orphans ethos regular attendees have come to expect and cherish.

In keeping with the United States presidential election of 2012, the symposium’s theme of “Made to Persuade” set the week’s tone, with a rich four-day program featuring campaign films, propaganda pieces, activism-driven works, and several creative applications of the notion of persuasion. While the election served as an appropriate backdrop for the theme, many Orphans 8 screenings were international in scope. Highlights included Cine Móvil (1976), documentation of an effort to bring films to remote areas throughout Mexico in a fully-equipped RV from Mexico’s Cineteca Nacional, as well as the advertising films of Dutch animator Joop Geesink, presented by Leenke Ripmeester (EYE Filmmuseum) and Julia Noordegraaf (University of Amsterdam).

For the symposium, Colorlab sponsored preservation for the Mexican film, which appeared on the Orphans 8 DVD, and which Cineteca Nacional added to its YouTube channel in 2016.

In another rare screening, five newly-preserved films by groundbreaking computer artist Lillian Schwartz were shown in 16mm at Orphans 8. Schwartz herself attended and spoke in conversation with NYU-MIAP alumnus Walter Forsberg, as part of a program on films made at AT&T/Bell Labs during the 1970s. Forsberg also spoke about computer animation pioneers of the 1960s. (For 2018, collector John Froats continues the conversation about computer-rendered 16mm films from Bell Labs and shares a found fragment of A. Michael Noll’s Patterns from 1964-65).

The Museum of the Moving Image expanded and renovated its space in Astoria only a year prior to Orphans 8, creating an additional layer of excitement for the 2012 event. In the six years since, MoMI has only further cemented its reputation as a powerhouse within the crowded New York City film landscape, both through its exhibitions and year-round curated screenings.

Independent filmmakers Jo Dery and Jeanne Liotta were honored with the Helen Hill Award, honoring the legacy of the New Orleans-based filmmaker and animator. Liotta and Dery each contributed a T-shirt design for the symposium drawn from their work.

Since 2012, Dery has continued to create inventive multimedia installations and comics, including a piece titled Still and Still Moving exhibited by Mono No Aware’s at their gallery space in Brooklyn. Liotta has created experimental shorts on both 35mm and 16mm since 2012, as well as multiple newspaper collages, installations, and one projection project about climate change commissioned for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Science on a Sphere platform. This year’s Helen Hill Award recipient continues the tradition of experimental film at the symposium; Nazlı Dinçel will be honored and a selection of her 16mm works screened.

This year’s symposium will see some presenters returning from 2012, including Jacqueline Stewart, Allyson Nadia Field, and Danielle Ash, as well as panels moderated by former Orphans presenters including Jeanne Liotta, Dwight Swanson, and Charles Musser. Just as “Made to Persuade” did six years ago, Orphans 11 will feature a presentation from Museum of the Moving Image curator Barbara Miller, who will showcase a MoMI collection of vintage posters for X-rated movies.

If the success of Orphans 8 (and the numerous Orphans-branded events since 2012) is any indication, the symposium’s return to Museum of the Moving Image from April 11-14 promises to be unmissable. The 2018 theme of “Love” is a fitting follow-up for the Orphan Film Symposium’s return to New York City --- after all, love and persuasion have more in common than not!

Audio recordings of many of the talks given in 2012 can be downloaded from the Orphans 8 website or the Internet Archive's Orphan Film Symposium Collection

 Full program listing and registration information for the 2018 symposium are here

To request copies of the Orphans 2012 DVD, Made to Persuade, write to orphanfilmsymposium[@]Gmail.com. The DVD booklet is downloadable here