Jun 13, 2022

Orphans 2022: Counter-Archives

Gentle colleagues: June 2022 greetings. 

It's been two years since this blog was updated, but only because the whole Orphan Film Symposium (and blogging) enterprise moved to an NYU site in the Before Times: wp.nyu.edu/orphanfilm. You can also get there using the simple URL that doesn't look like one: orphan.film

Just to make sure the news reaches into previous channels, here's word of the 2022 biennial NYU Orphan Film Symposium.  Our theme: Counter-Archives. The location: Concordia University in Montreal, a place we will refer to as Tiohtià:ke, using the indigenous name from the real Before Times. Our modus operandi remains as it was upon its launch at the University of South Carolina in 1999: four nights and three full days of screening neglected films and presentations by archivists, scholars, and artists.  

Read the full line-up at wp.nyu.edu/orphanfilm/program2022.

Select portions of the 2022 Orphan Film Symposium on Counter-Archives can be watched live on the NYU Cinema Studies Vimeo site.

Here's how to see it.  

1. Register your name, affiliation (or independence), and email address using the NYU Orphan Film Symposium registration portal. Type in $0 in payment (or a pay-what-you-will donation). If you make no payment, you will not get an automatic email confirmation.  However, we will email a PASSWORD to all registrants on Tuesday, June 14. And again June 15. Use this password to log-in to the Live Event (as Vimeo calls it). If you previously registered, no need to do that again. 

 2. The password will work during all sessions, June 15-18, 2022.  Go to the NYU Cinema Studies Vimeo home, https://vimeo.com/user5490513. Click on the Live Event for Orphans 2022, enter the password. 

 The symposium is designed as an in-person, live, in-the-theater experience. The webcast will not be integrated into flow of the program. However, most spoken presentations and individual films/files will be streamed live. 

Given the sensitive and difficult nature of many counter-archival documents, we will restrict items from streaming when appropriate and at the presenters' discretion. Since this is not a festival program oriented to an interactive general audience, Vimeo viewers will see only a "not available for streaming" announcement when portions are blocked.  

 The full schedule of what is live-streaming and what is blocked will be published on the OFS blog. 

For now, we can say that the Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday 8:00pm screenings will be streaming (with a couple of short exceptions).  

Wednesday, June 15, by 8:30pm, the Making Counter-Archives screening (8 films, 57 minutes) will play, followed by a 45-minute roundtable featuring Artists in Residence with the Archive/Counter-Archive Project. 

Debbie Ebanks Schlums and Janine Marchessault (York U) introduce 
  • Federica FogliaInnesti Neri e Bianchi [White and Black Grafts] (2022) 
  • Jean-Pierre MarchantA Life on the Borderlands (2021)
  • Sharon Isaac & Kelsey DiamondThunder Rolling Home (2019)  
  • Pamila Matharustuck between an archive and an aesthetic (2019)  
  • Jennifer Dysart, Caribou in the Archive (2019) and Revisiting Keewatin Missions (ca. 1952)
  • Chris Chong, Propaganda (2021-22)
  • Nada El-OmariYaffa (2019) 
  • Nadine ValcinOrigines (2021)
+ Roundtable with Jennifer Dysart, Jean-Pierre Marchand, Pamila Matharu, Nadine Valcin, moderated by Janine Marchessault. 

frame from
Thursday, June 16, 8pm, Screening.
Reanimating Histories, includes Helen Hill Award recipient Kelly Gallagher. Bill Morrison (Hypnotic Pictures) introduces his piece Buried News (2021, 12 min), using newsreels documenting US racial divide (1917-1920), from the Dawson City Collection.  Phil Hoffman introduces Your New Pig Is Down the Road (Helen Hill, 1999) a hand-processed 16mm print, which Helen made at Phil's "Film Farm." 

Filmmaker Kelly Gallagher presents a program of her short works including More Dangerous Than a Thousand Rioters: The Revolutionary Life of Lucy Parsons (2016), A Herstory of Women Filmmakers (2009), Ceallaigh at Kilmainham (2013), From Ally to Accomplice (2015), and three from 2021: Pine and Genesee, We Had Each Other, and In the Future. 

frame grab
Saturday, June 18, the 8:00 pm screening of silent films in a program we call Two Sons & Sales Femmes. Louis Pelletier (U of Montreal / Cinémathèque québécoise ) introduces Les deux fils de monsieur Dubois (Gordon Sparling, Canadian Forestry Association, 1928), a premiere of the new restoration by the Canadian Educational, Sponsored & Industrial Film Project, with live musical accompaniment by Andrei Castañon.  25 min.  

Laura Horak (Carleton U) & Maggie Hennefeld (U of Minnesota) introduce Screening Cinema’s First Nasty Women:     • Pranks (US, 1909). Library of Congress. Music by Gerson Lazo-Quiroga. • Laughing Gas (US, 1907, with Bertha Regustus).  Library of Congress. Music by Matt Hayes and Gerson Lazo-Quiroga. • La Pile électrique de Léontine / Betty’s Electric Battery (France, 1910). Gaumont-Pathé Archives. Music by Gonca Feride Varol. • Fatty and Minnie He-Haw (US, 1914, with Minnie Deveraux). Library of Congress. Music by Eliot Britton. Introduced by Kickapoo artist Arigon Starr. • The Red Girl and the Child (US, 1910, with Red Wing). Museum of Modern Art. Music by Don Ross. Introduced by Cherokee scholar Liza Black.   

 + a final world:
Brian Meacham (Yale Film Archive) introduces outtakes from James Baldwin: From Another Place (Sedat Pakay, 1973) filmed in Istanbul, 1970.        

NB. This Blogger site for the symposium remains up to keep access to its 14 years of publication. But it is seldom updated. New material originates at the NYU site.

May 9, 2020

Orphans Online 2020

Gentle colleagues! Orphanistas of the World!  Sisters and Brothers!

May 2020 greetings.

Regrettable as coronal cancellations are, the 2020 Orphan Film Symposium on Water, Climate, and Migration is migrating to an online experience. May 26-28 live sessions with speakers and presentations will be webcast on the NYU Cinema Studies Vimeo site. 

The schedule, extensive postings, and streaming orphans will be found at the Orphan Film Symposium's NYU website: wp.nyu.edu/orphanfilm. Streaming video will be added in the days before the live symposium and remain online after. Recordings of the live sessions will also stream for those who missed them.

Note that this Blogger site for the symposium remains up to keep access to its 12 years of publication. But it is no longer updated. New material always originates at the NYU site.

Mar 1, 2020

Orphans 2020: See 68mm films at 8K

The May 23-26, 2020, Orphan Film Symposium / Eye Academic Conference, features 68mm Mutoscope & Biograph restorations (in 8K), presented by Frank Roumen and Giovanna Fossati (Eye), Katie Trainor(Museum of Modern Art NYC), and Simon Lund (Cineric). The curated selection of films relate to the symposium's themes of Water, Climate, and Migration. Also a newly scanned 68mm paper print (rarest of animals) from the Library of Congress, thanks to Cineric and LOC generosity to the NYU Orphan Film Symposium. Dedicated to the late film historian and archivist Paul Spehr.

Read the rich program of films and speakers --  and register to join us in Amsterdam.

Also, read my new blog post about 68mm Mutosope & Biograph films, particularly the original phantom ride film, The Haverstraw Tunnel (American Mutoscope Co., 1897). Although it caused a popular sensation, was often imitated, and inspired film historians and theorists from 1983 onward, the short film (less than 2 minutes) remains rarely seen. Why?

The post, "68mm 8K Phantoms," was sparked by this rare reference to the Haverstraw film in later trade press. "This writer has been viewing film since the Lumiere babies, the Haverstraw Tunnel and the Empire State Express were the screen stars. . . ." Epes W. Sargent, Moving Picture World, Oct. 16, 1920.

The closest thing we see of The Haverstraw Tunnel on the web at the moment are frames from the Biograph catalog, as reprinted in Charles Musser's essential history The Emergence of Cinema: The American Screen to 1907, published in 1990.

Dan Streible (New York University)  @Orphan_Films
Blog of the NYU Orphan Film Symposium (c) 2020.
The symposium is a biennial production of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Department of Cinema Studies

Feb 2, 2020

Program preview. Orphans at Eye, May 23-27, 2020

Registration open to all.

Here's a preview of programming for the 6th Eye International Conference / 12th NYU Orphan Film Symposium, Water, Climate, and Migration, May 23-26, 2020, at Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam.  Please note the listings are not complete (more to come) and the scheduled arrangement of sessions is not listed.  However, this gives an indication of the rich diversity of films, presenters, subjects, and forms offered throughout "Orphans 12."

Saturday, May 23: Eye “Meet the Archive” screenings 12:00 to 16:00

18:00  6th Eye International Conference / 12th Orphan Film Symposium Opening reception and registration.

20:30  Eye Filmmuseum – Cinema 1.
Opening Attractions:  Recent Preservation from the Eye Collection.

May 24, 25, and 26: Sessions begin at 10:00, 13:30, 16:00, and 17:30.Lunch 12:30; Dinner 19:00; Screenings 20:30 pm

Sunday, May 24  :  WATER

10:00 am Giovanna Fossati et al. (Eye), Floris Paalman (U of Amsterdam, Preservation and Presentation of the Moving Image) & Dan Streible (NYU) Opening remarks

Frontispiece:  If the Antarctic Ice Cap Should Melt? -- outtakes (Fox Movietone News, US, 1929) new scan from U of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections; Introduced by Shiyang Jiang (NYU MIAP)


Sonia Shechet Epstein (Museum of the Moving Image NYC) Underwater Films from the Department of Tropical Research: Floyd Crosby and William Beebe’s Bathysphere in Haiti and Bermuda, 1927-1934

Monique Toppin (U of the Bahamas) & Erica Carter (King’s College London) An Underwater Sense of Place: Bahamas Marine Locations in Cinema Memory
+ In de Tropische Zee (Thirty Leagues under the Sea) (Carl L. Gregory, Thanhouser, Submarine Film Corp., Bahamas/US, 1914)


Stephanie Sapienza (U of Maryland) Unlocking the Airwaves: The National Association of Educational Broadcasters Radio Collection (1952-1973)
Joni Hayward Marcum (U of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) Nature and Energy, Control and Excess: American Infrastructural Cinema in the 1930s
Bradley E. Reeves (Appalachian Media Archives) The Tennessee Valley Authority: “Built for and Owned by the People”   

Gregory A. Waller (Indiana U) and Andy Uhrich (Washington U) Irrigating and Reshaping America: Educational Films on the Power of Water, 1927-1948
Sonia García López (U Carlos III de Madrid) & David M. J. Wood (U Nacional Autónoma de México) Water, Catastrophe, and the Authoritarian-Humanitarian State: Las inundaciones en Barcelona (NO-DO, Spain, 1962) and Inundación (ICB, Bolivia, 1966)

Amy Herzog (Queens College CUNY) Spindrift’s Wet Dream: Puget Sound and the Pornographic Imaginary. Spindrift (Richard Kornbacher, 1973) and [Kornbacher home movies] (1960s-70s)
Sofia Elizalde (Cineclub Rosario) Immigrant Women in the Early 20th Century and Erotic Exploitation: A Rediscovered “French” Film from Argentina ¡Mujer, tú eres la belleza! o La Mujer y el Arte [Woman, You Are Beauty! or Women and Art] (Camilo Zaccaría Soprani, AR, 1928)
Petra Belc (Zagreb) The Consolations and Horrors of the Sea: Restoring the Amateur Experimental Super 8 Films of Tatjana Ivančić, (Yugoslavia, 1970s)

Anke Mebold  (Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum) Unseen Films of the River Lahn by the Inventor of the Leica Camera (Oskar Barnack, DE, 1914-1920);  +  Rund um Die Welt in 2 Stunden [Around the World in 2 Hours] (IT/FR/DE, ca. 1914)

Kimberly Tarr (NYU Libraries) From the Communist Party USA Collection: Let’s Get Acquainted (Kyiv Popular Science Film Studio, USSR, ca. 1972)
Oliver Gaycken (Medicine on Screen) introduces Countdown to Collision (Arlie Productions, GWU Medical Center, 1970)
Bill Brand (BB Optics/NYU) and French Institute Alliance Francaise, debute the newly preserved Aqua (Samba Félix Ndiaye, Senegal, 1989)
Laura Kissel (U of South Carolina) moderator
Endpiece: Deliquescence, live projection and sound performance by A Clockface Orange (Rachael Guma and Genevieve HK) with Gabriel Guma (New York)

Monday, May 25 : CLIMATE

Jennifer L. Peterson (Woodbury U) Wheels of Progress: National Park Roads in US Government Films from the 1920s: Wheels of Progress (USDA, 1927); Roads in Our National Parks (USDA, 1927)
Oliver Gaycken (U of Maryland) & Sarah Eilers (US National Library of Medicine) The Darkening Day: US Public Health Service Films on Air Pollution, 1960-1969.
Angela Saward (Wellcome Collection) It Takes Your Breath Away (Dr. M. Catterall, UK, 1964) medical community response to air pollution death 

Nicholas Baer (U of Groningen), Katerina Korola (U of Chicago), Katharina Loew (U Mass Boston), and Philipp Stiasny (Film U Babelsberg Konrad Wolf) The Natural World Viewed: Early German Images of the Anthropocene.
Naturschutz: Tieraufnahmen [Nature Reserve: Animal Photography] (Hermann Hähnle, 1915–1920); Bilder aus Grönland [Pictures of Greenland] (UFA, 1929); Die Aran-Inseln [The Aran Islands] (Heinrich Hauser, 1928)

Julianna Villarosa (U of Iowa) Beyond the Frame: Neglected Films, Unnamed Filmmakers, and Unseen Islanders of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Atmospheric Nuclear Tests Archive
Andrés Levinson (Museo del Cine, Buenos Aires) Project for the Preservation of Argentine Antarctic Cinema: Amateur and Semi-professional Footage from Expedición Polar Argentina (1964-65)
Alice Plutino & Alessandro Rizzi (U of Milan) Raising Environmental Awareness in Italy: An Untitled Documentary about Paper Recycling in Brescia (198?) and How This Super 8 Film Was Restored
Carolina Cappa (Elías Querejeta Zine Eskola, San Sebastian, Spain) Project Nitrato Argentino (Museo del Cine Pablo Ducros Hicken, 2019)
Alexander Markov (Ukulele Films, Russia) Constructing Hydroelectric Power Stations in the USSR and Egypt: documentary rushes and amateur films (1951-1964)
Eiren Caffall (climate-change journalist) with her film Becoming Ocean (Scott K. Foley, US, 2018)

Linda Tadic (Digital Bedrock / UCLA) The Environmental Impact of Digital Archives
Floris Paalman (U of Amsterdam) & Luna Hupperetz (Vrije U Amsterdam) A Cultural Ecology Approach to Archiving: The Case of Cineclub Vrijheidsfilms (1966-1986) at the International Institute of Social History
Oleksandr Makhanets (Urban Media Archive, Center for Urban History, Lviv, Ukraine) The [Unarchiving] Program: A Decayed Amateur Film Becomes Derevo (The Tree, Oleh Chornyi and Hennadiy Khmaruk, UKR, 2019)

Monday 20:30  HELEN HILL AWARDs: Martha Colburn and Jaap Pieters
Helen Hill home movies and Katrina floods in New Orleans (2005)
+ Rain Dance (Helen Hill, 1990) new scan from Harvard Film Archive

Julie Hubbert (U of South Carolina) confers the Helen Hill Awards:
Recipients Martha Colburn and Jaap Pieters introduce an evening of their films.  Simona Monizza (Eye) moderator

Tuesday, May 26 : MIGRATION

MIGRATIONS AMERICAN (African, Asian, European, Latin American)
Ina Archer (Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture) The Great Migration Project: Town of Highland Beach, Maryland Home Movies (1950s-60s)
Jesse Lerner (Claremont Colleges) A Semi-Amateur Documentary on Migrant Labor along the US-Mexican Border: Hands Across the Border (Great Western Sugar Co., US, 1963)
Klavier J. Wang (NYU) Awakening Immigrant Voices: Asia CineVision’s Manhattan Chinatown Community Television, 1977-1983
Juana Suárez (NYU) Seeing and Hearing Migrant Labor and Class Strata in the Equine Industry: Video from an Unmade Documentary (2010)

Iga Harasimowicz (Polish National Film Institute) & Grazia Ingravalle (Brunel U London) Polish Diaspora through the Prism of Archival Films of the 1930s.
Anna Leippe (Haus des Dokumentarfilms, Stuttgart) The “Daheim in der Fremde” Project: Amateur Films of Refugee Camps, in Southwest Germany, 1946-1969
Kay Hoffmann (U of Offenbach) RhInédits and the Kinemathek of the Upper Rhine Valley: Amateur Films from Alsace, Baden, and Northern Switzerland

Nico de Klerk (Utrecht U) & Andrea Stultiens (Hanze U of Applied Sciences) Anthropologist Paul Julien: Dutch “Seasonal Worker” in an African “Contact Zone”  -- Between the Nile and the Congo: From Cairo to Ituri Forest and Mount Kilimanjaro (Paul Julien, NL, 1934)
Christian Rossipal (NYU) (Un)documenting the State Archive: The Making of an Information Video for Asylum Seekers.
Medicinsk Åldersbedömning [Age Assessment], (National Board of Forensic Medicine, Sweden, 2017)

Brenda Ibáñez Toledo (independent / Cineteca Nacional de Chile) Immigrants and Exiles: Home Movies of Two Chilean Families. The Melzers (1940s) and the Tobars (1970s)
Jose Miguel Palacios (U Alberto Hurtado) & Elizabeth Ramirez-Soto (San Francisco State U) Performing Rites and Folklore in Chilean Exile Cinema - - excerpts from Dos años en Finlandia (Angelina Vázquez, Finland, 1975); Pilsner & Piroger (Kjell Jerselius and Claudio Sapiaín, Sweden, 1982); Re-torno (David Benavente, Netherlands, 1983)
Feature screening: Gens de toutes parts…Gens de nulle part [People from Everywhere…People from Nowhere] (Valeria Sarmiento, Belgium/France, 1980)
Katie Trainor (MoMA New York) American Mutoscope & Biograph 68mm restorations, 1896-1902

Matt Soar (Concordia U Montreal) a special announcement
+ Lost Leaders #21:  ASANASA (Matt Soar, 2019)

Note:  Wednesday, May 27,Eye invites conference/symposium attendees
to special activities 
at the Eye Collection Centre.

Dec 30, 2019

Helen Hill Awards 2020: Martha Colburn and Jaap Pieters

• Wishing you a good 2020 ahead. 
• And sharing this good news about two talented filmmakers. 
• Coming soon: news about the rest of the Orphans 2020 program.  

For the 12th Orphan Film Symposium, NYU Cinema Studies and the University of South Carolina Film and Media Studies Program present the 2020 Helen Hill Award to Martha Colburn and Jaap Pieters. Each biennial symposium presents the award to independent filmmakers whose work embodies the creative spirit, passion, and activism of the late animator, filmmaker, and educator, a Columbia, South Carolina-born artist and citizen of the world who inspired many.

Colburn and Pieters will each present selections from their own work to an international audience of archivists, scholars, curators, and artists at the NYU Orphan Film Symposium, hosted by Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam, May 23-26, 2020. Registration is open.

Eye in fact collaborates with both artists. Eye's curator of experimental film Simona Monizza and curator Marius Hrdy have together with Colburn generated a program of new film prints to debut at the 2020 Ann Arbor Film Festival, including two Filmmuseum restorations. From the Pieters material in its collection, Eye is making 35mm blow-ups of some Super 8 films. Monizza says Colburn and Pieters are “a great match for this award.” Their presence is “both peripheral and global at the same time. Both are uncompromising in their work and lives.”

The prolific Martha Colburn has created more than 60 films, as well as music videos, performances, and installations. After receiving a BFA in painting from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, she took to filmmaking in 1994, using Super 8 and 16mm film to make short, kinetic animations. In 2002 she received an MFA equivalent degree from the Rijksakademie van beeldende kunst (Dutch National Academy of Fine Arts) and lived in Amsterdam five years before moving to New York and most recently Los Angeles. Recent Anthology Film Archives program notes describe Colburn as “the queen of punk-inflected, high-decibel animation using paper cut-outs, hand-painting, scratching, and sometimes found footage to create deliriously energetic freak-outs.” Among her innovative, hand-made, and often subversive creations she also deploys collage, stop-motion cinematography, puppetry, superimpositions, fragments from abandoned ephemeral films, historical images from art and popular culture, and objects applied to clear leader. (She discusses her technique in the 2011 short Martha Colburn Cuts the Boring Parts Out.)

Colburn’s output also includes several pieces directly relevant to the 2020 symposium’s focus on Water, Climate, and Migration, some of which she posts at marthacolburn.com. Don’t Kill the Weatherman! (2007) reanimates a 15th-century illuminated manuscript’s apocalyptic imagery in response to the contemporary climate change crisis. Anti-Fracking Film (2011) warns of the threat to New York’s water. Stand with Standing Rock (2016) advocates for the Sioux protest against the Dakota Access Pipeline’s threat to ancestral land and water.

Jaap Pieters is called “the eye of Amsterdam.” A long-time resident, he has been documenting daily life in the city built on water for more than 30 years, filming almost exclusively on Super 8 stock. Each roll of exposed film -- silent, running 3 minutes and 20 seconds -- constitutes a whole work, capturing a single subject. Most depict idiosyncratic moments with unidentified people who pass through his neighborhood. Pieters projects his Super 8 reels to audiences, assembling programs as he goes. Eye Filmmuseum houses some of these works, blown up to 35mm for preservation and screening, ten of which are distributed by Light Cone. Meanwhile, thousands of negatives, prints, and unprocessed rolls remain at home in his “amateur archive.” His film-packed apartment has been the site of the documentaries The Universe of Jaap Pieters (2015) and Jaap Pieters Portrait (2005).

In one degree of separation from the origins of the Helen Hill Award, Chris Kennedy’s book 8 Affinities: Jaap Pieters & John Porter (2015) features a dialogue with the Toronto Super 8 specialist who dedicated his Phil’s Film Farm (2002) to his friend Helen Hill.

Unbeknownst to symposium organizers until after these awardees were confirmed, Jaap Pieters appears on-screen in Martha Colburn’s newest work, animations for Richard Ayres' opera The Garden (2018).  

- - - - - - - - - - 
Established in 2008, the Helen Hill Award recognizes exceptional independent filmmakers whose work befits Hill’s legacy, celebrating creativity, animation, collaboration, and things made by hand. The previous recipients were Naomi Uman and Jimmy Kinder (2008), Jodie Mack and Danielle Ash (2010), Jeanne Liotta and Jo Dery (2012), Werner Nekes (2014), Sasha Waters Freyer (2016), and Nazlı Dinçel (2018).

P.S.  Please chip in.
The Helen Hill Award Fund has allowed these 11 deserving awardees to attend the Orphan Film Symposium. Help bring independent media artists to screen their work at this biennial forum. All funds go only to support travel and accommodations for award recipients. Give at this web page for the Helen Hill Award Fund. 

- - - - - - - - - - 
The 12th Orphan Film Symposium is a co-presentation of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Department of Cinema Studies, the Eye International Conference, and the University of Amsterdam. Some 50 speakers from across the world will present rare and rediscovered orphan films throughout three days and four nights of screenings and talks. Registration is open to all.

Martha Colburn puts Jaap Pieters in The Garden.

- - - - - - - - - - 

 Questions?  orphanfilm @ nyu.edu

Oct 1, 2019

Remembering the first Orphans of the Storm at 20.

Thoughts about the 20th anniversary of the Orphan Film Symposium.

Posted here.

Bonus track:
Some digital image artifacts from 1999 below.

Here's a 1999 flatbed scan of the strip of decaying nitrate film from which the above logo was taken.

For the record, the footage shows a 1928 Eucharistic Congress in Sydney, Australia.

Seed money for the symposium from this NSF grant. Paul Smith was a grantsman and development person for USC Libraries.

A "rather scattered community."

The library's grant made it possible to bring several of the speakers to campus. The reference to George Eastman House was because its senior curator Paolo Cherchi Usai gave a keynote address. A transcription is posted: "What is an Orphan Film? Definition, Rationale and Controversy," University of South Carolina, September 23, 1999.

He began thusly:
I am reminded what happened about two years ago at Eastman House, when one day I opened the side door, and there right in front of me were three piles of films, very carefully stacked. There was a message written on a piece of paper, covered by a stone: "Take good care of these films. I am moving to South Carolina. Hope they are of use to you." No signature. The films were 16mm prints made approximately in the 1920s. They were arranged in alphabetical order. They were not crying. They were in great shape. So we took them in. Took them to the registrar's office and tried to find out what they were. . . 

Sep 20, 2019

Climate strikes back.

With the 2020 Orphan Film Symposium being devoted to Water, Climate, and Migration, the Global Climate Strikes on the Fridays of September 20 & 27, 2019 are of course relevant to how we are now conceiving of audiovisual recordings of these phenomena.

The 1929 Fox Movietone News outtakes catalogued as If the Antarctic Icecaps Should Melt?  connect neglect media artifacts to the global moment in a potent and uncanny way. Here's a sample of the 10 minutes.

The University of South Carolina MIRC DVR provides the original Fox librarian's notation:  "'Scientists say gigantic frozen sea at South Pole could flood the world.' Cameraman visualizes what would happen if a tidal wave deluged New York. Statue of Liberty gets her toes wet. Even Times Square is submerged."

More on that footage at a later time -- and in 2020 a screening of full piece at the symposium.

For now we simply want to note the student-led Global Climate Strike.

At NYU Cinema Studies yesterday students, staff, and faculty agreed to participate, with the regular school schedule supplanted by time for the noon march from nearby Foley Square to the rally in Battery Park. The city itself has declared public schools will allow students to strike. And of course our NYC neighbors at the United Nations host the March 27 Climate Action Summit during the U.N. General Assembly, while the latest Dutch Klimaatstaking convenes in The Hague. In Amsterdam the September 20 event meets at Dam Square. The University of Amsterdam has endorsed the work of its Students for Climate as well as the 2018 open letter from scientists calling upon universities to do more to combat "human-caused climate change."

Student-led actions on the issue are not new of course. But the now of 2019 feels different, from mass media coverage of teen activist Greta Thunberg's transatlantic voyage to protests in the street to personal daily experiences with our local climates.

In addition to gathering to discuss issues and actions, we now also face dilemmas about how to gather. International conferences and festivals accustomed to assembling people from distant places are having to rethink participation. We have not solved anything, but recognizing the desire by many to reduce long-distance travel the call for proposals to the 2020 Eye International Conference and NYU Orphan Film Symposium welcomes alternative formats of presentation: "We can consider a limited number of (live) video presentations for those who either don’t fly or who want to fly less." Whether with old-fashioned Skype sessions or new interactive media presentation forms (3D holographic projection?), for better or worse, we are learning technological alternatives to bodily gatherings. When we can meet in person, so much the better.

Meanwhile, we continue our work mindfully (pardon the buzz word) and creatively -- and, we hope, with some pleasure.

Toward that end: Here's another example of the richness of orphan films that allow us to consider how the past informs our present.

From the Eye collection, a piece assigned the title Journaal (1926[?]) an unknown Dutch compilation of international newsreel items, including stories about water, climate, and migration: Snowstorm in Manhattan.  A costumed Native American posing on a city street (attributed with a Dutch dialogue intertitle with a film historical allusion: "Where did my white brother Karl May go?"). Swimmer Hélène Sude [who?] in an aquarium with a seal. Roald Amundsen after his flight above the North Pole. Opening the Sennar Dam on the Blue Nile in Sudan.

Instagram & Twitter: @Orphan_Films
+ Orphan.film