Feb 28, 2008

the great Canemaker

(27 days 'til . . . )

As you can glean from this news item -->
John Canemaker has had an amazingly accomplished career in animation, with his 2005 Academy Award, 2006 Emmy Award, 2007 Jean Mitry Award from le Giornate del Cinema Muto, and now a Winsor McCay Award being just the most recent distinctions.

John Canemaker will offer remarks in praise of Helen Hill's animated films at the Orphan Film Symposium's opening night tribute to her work.

Milestone Film and Video distributes a compilation of his work.

Feb 24, 2008

Who are the Onondagas and why are they using half-inch open-reel video?

(31 days left 'til projectors roll)

Jason Livingston is a film and video maker teaching at Ithaca College. He found a 16mm film in his parent's closet (how many times have we heard that before?). It turned out to be short a documentary from 1972 called Onondagas v. NYS. This documentary was an early effort of the Ithaca Video Project, which used black-and-white, 1/2-inch, open-reel videotape.

So why does this work only survive (apparently) as a 16mm projection print? Why was it in the Livingstons' closet?

the assassination of Pancho Villa

sábado, 22/2 (32 días mas)

Gregorio Rocha sends this photograph, taken in El Paso Heights, Texas, ca. 1932. The two-camera, six-rifle crew was there to film a re-enactment of the assassination of Pancho Villa. The footage was then added to the extraordinary compilation film La Venganza de Pancho Villa, made by Edmundo and Felix Padilla. The Padillas collected all kinds of films related to the life of Villa -- features, serials, newsreels.

Between 1930 and 1934 they revised the film many times. Their screenings used music from their phonograph record collection as accompaniment.

The Padillas' story is told in two documentaries by Gregorio Rocha, an independent filmmaker based in Mexico City: The Lost Reels of Pancho Villa (2003) and Acme & Co. (2006).

After Gregorio identified the Padillas' lost reels in rusted cans at the University of Texas El Paso library, the Padilla family and UTEP began a process of restoration for La Venganza. The project was first announced at Orphans 2 (2001) by a breathless Gregorio, fresh from the discovery. It culminates on March 27, with the first screening of the restored 35mm film print of the Padilla production. The American Film Institute [Kim Tomadjoglou] has been working on the restoration with the fab labs of Cineteca di Bologna [Davide Pozzi], with the aid of the UNAM Film Archive in Mexico.

For this first projection, a team of students in the NYU Film Scoring Program is preparing a compilation score based on recordings found in the Padilla collection.

Feb 22, 2008

Snow day

(only 33 shopping days left)

photo by Walking Off the Big Apple

It snowed in New York today. The first real snow for a long time. Here's a Washington Square Park orphaned snowman who will be gone before you know it.

In the background, you can see the NYU Kimmel Center, where Orphans 6 will close with a big soiree. If you could cut to a reverse shot OTS, Mr. Snow is looking toward the Cantor Film Center.

It will be spring when we convene.

Feb 21, 2008

Christa Lang Fuller and Sam Fuller's film

(34 days left)
Exciting news:

Christa Fuller will introduce the March 29th premiere screening of the Academy Film Archive's restoration of the 16mm film that Samuel Fuller shot of the U.S. Army's liberation of the Falkenau concentration camp. He entitled it V—E +1 May 9, 1945. It was his first time with a camera.

We're thrilled to have her coming to Orphans 6. Long-time orphanistas, such as Marsha Orgeron and Lee Tsiantis, say Christa is a great conversationalist and a life force.

Bio in part:

An actress in European film and television, Christa Lang met Samuel Fuller 1965. They married in 1967.

After earning a graduate degree from UCLA in French literature, she formed Chrisam Films Inc. with Sam
in 1981. Since her husband's death in 1997, Christa has edited and republished his literary work, including A Third Face: My Tale of Writing, Fighting and Filmmaking (Knopf, 2002) and the 1944 novel The Dark Page, reissued in 2007 with a foreword by Wim Wenders.

Feb 20, 2008

IFC show was great

photo by Katie Trainor

(35 days left 'til Orphans 6)

Last night's "Best of the Orphan Film Symposium" screening was a treat. Lots of good buzz during and after. Being a fast-paced clip-fest we had to show mostly video, but the IFCC crew made them all look their best. Thom Powers kept the show flowing from the stage.

As you can see from the line-up (yesterday's blog post) there was variety. Ariella Ben-Dov of the Madcat Women's International Film Festival was there and we talked about Helen Hill's film. Ariella was part of a great tribute/lovefest for Helen's work when they screened at the REDCAT theater in Los Angles.

Documentary filmmaker Anthony Gonzalez told me how much he liked the H. Lee Waters film of Kannapolis, NC, and wants to see more.

Josh Marston (who directed the great MARIA FULL OF GRACE) said a light went on as he watched the Waters film as well as the itinerant filmmaker Melton Barker's masterpiece (ahem) shot in Childress, Texas.

At the Minetta Tavern after, David Leitner (producer of FOR ALL MANKIND) shared some revelations about the NASA archive of Apollo films.

Which reminds me that there was a great moment after the clip from TEENAGE COSMONAUTS. Laurie Anderson came up to talk about her work as NASA artist-in-residence. She began by noting that she had in fact visited the Gagarin Cosmonaut School seen in the Soviet film. (No one trains there now, she said... except a Japanese rock star who wants to go into outer space.)

At the Minetta afterwards, best overhead bit of converstion: "Lou Reed said he liked that home movie, OUR DAY."

Good to hear.

Feb 19, 2008

WNYC Orphan interview available on-line

(36 days 'til the big O)

Hear here
the segment on orphan films, broadcast today on WNYC-FM in New York. Thanks to filmlovers Leonard Lopate and his producer Melissa Eagan (whose husband is writing a book about the National Film Registry, it turns out).

Feb 18, 2008

Leonard Lopate Show

(37 days remain...)
Tuesday, Feb. 19, at 1:00 pm, "The Leonard Lopate Show" on WNYC (FM 93.9) features 20 minutes on orphan films, the IFCC screening, and the symposium.

Below is the line-up for Tuesday night. (Tickets can be purchased on-line at IFCcenter.com).

Rain Dance (1990, Helen Hill)

Kannapolis (1941, H. Lee Waters)

Madison News Reel (1932, Maine)

Teenage Cosmonauts (1979, Ukrainian Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio)

Laurie Anderson on footage from outer space...

Ramona & Jose Torres wedding film (1961) ANTHOLOGY FILM ARCHIVES
Remarks by filmmaker Jeanne Liotta.

Evil Wind Out (1963, James Blue, USIA)

Our Day (1938, Wallace Kelly)
Remarks by Martha Kelly

Kidnappers Foil (ca. 1936-37, Melton Barker)


Thanks to
Colorlab for preservation, printing, and transfers
Postworks, New York
for film-to-tape transfers

Feb 17, 2008

about Judson Memorial Church

(38 days 'til ...)

On Thursday, March 27, orphanistas will be served dinner (Chinese dumplings) in the main sanctuary of Judson Memorial Church. This historic building, designed by Stanford White, sits on the south side of Washington Square Park. (We will see it in some of the films we screen, especially in Dan Drasin's Sunday, 1961.)

By 1960 the Judson had developed a national reputation for opening the church to avant-garde artists. The grand room in which we will be dining has hosted many notable dance, theater, and music performances -- including Oldenberg's Happenings, viz:

Feb 15, 2008

'Best of Orphans' at the IFC Center in NYC

(40 days until Orphans 6)

On Tuesday, February 19th, at 8:00 pm, the IFC Center in New York hosts its weekly screening in the "Stranger Than Fiction" documentary series. This week's episode is being billed as "The Best of the Orphan Film Symposium." Series curator and host Thom Powers will preside over the evening, which features Laurie Anderson talking about her work with NASA footage and Dan Streible of NYU showing short films from several orphaned genres.

Filmmaker Jeanne Liotta will tell how she came across the 1961 wedding film of boxing star Jose Torres and his bride Ramona. Excerpts from films found in the Communist Party USA collection will be shown alongside a short made for the U.S. Information Agency during the cold war. And a curiosity from Madison, Maine, made by an unknown amateur in 1934, that one might swear was a Joseph Cornell film. And a home movie from depression-era Kentucky that one might swear was made by Orson Welles -- three years before Citizen Kane.

Feb 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day.

(41 days 'til...)

Madame Winger Makes a Film (Helen Hill, 2001)

Red hearts were a motif in the films and art of Helen Hill, whose work we will be honoring on opening night.

Drawing in Helen's cookbooklet Recipes for Disaster (2001), which was released with Madame Winger.

Feb 13, 2008

Numbers to consider . . .

(42 days 'til Orphans 6)

More than 300 people will be at the symposium; they come from 17 nations.

The films to be screened were filmed in 16 nations, across 102 years of time (1906 to 2008).

Approximately 30 works have been newly preserved and will debut at the event. Some 20 of these have been preserved by Orphan Film Symposium partnership initiatives.

Feb 12, 2008

Rediscovered PASSAIC TEXTILE STRIKE footage

(43 days 'til Orphans 6)

When the NYU Tamiment Library acquired the Communist Party USA collection in 2006, a few hundred reels of films came with it. The librarians' initial inventory led to a significant find: a nitrate print of The Passaic Textile Strike (1926), a storied film sponsored by International Workers Aid to convey labor's perspective on the strike by mill workers in New Jersey. However, only an incomplete version was known to exist, with 2 reels lost. Those reels were found.

The deteriorating nitrate went to the Library of Congress, which had previously preserved the other 5 reels. George Willeman is working to salvage as much of the rediscovered footage as possible. George will tell us more at Orphans 6. Meanwhile, you are here among the first to see these samples of PASSAIC footage he has been able to rescue. (Courtesy of LOC and Tamiment Library.)

Feb 11, 2008

Helen Hill Award recipients

(44 days 'til Orphans 6)

Naomi Uman contributed this self-portrait to Helen Hill's Recipes for Disaster: A handcrafted film cookbooklet (2001). Her little dog will be at the symposium too.

A frame from Jimmy Kinder's cameraless film, Grandfather (2008).

Feb 10, 2008

Helen Hill Awards announced

(45 days 'til Orphans 6)

Naomi Uman
(Mexico City / L.A.)
Jimmy Kinder
(New York City)

The Orphan Film Symposium at the NYU Tisch School of the Arts and its partner, the University of South Carolina Film Studies Program, have named media artists Naomi Uman and Jimmy Kinder recipients of the 2008 Helen Hill Award. The filmmakers will screen and introduce their latest productions at the symposium, March 26-29.

The new award honors independent filmmakers whose work embodies the spirit and creativity of the late animator Helen Hill (1970-2007). Jurors intended to give only one prize, but they were impressed by two outstanding artists – and donors proved generous enough to fund them both. Uman and Kinder each receive funding to participate in the 6th Orphan Film Symposium, an international gathering of artists, archivists, curators, and scholars devoted to neglected films. The award also includes $1,000 worth of Kodak film stock.

Naomi Uman, an innovative filmmaker (Leche, 1998; Removed, 1999) who divides her time between Mexico and California, has been living on a farm in the Ukraine while making her latest work, Kalendar. Unbeknownst to the jurors who selected her for the award, Uman knew Helen Hill. Both artists earned an MFA from the CalArts program in Experimental Animation. Both made the hand-processing of celluloid negatives and tabletop animation their signature techniques. “Naomi Uman is the person who inspired me to understand that film is tough and can withstand a lot of play in the darkroom,” says Melinda Stone, who collaborated with her on the short Developing Memory (2002). “Naomi is a fearless filmmaker and she loves teaching others to experiment.”

Jimmy Kinder, while a student at The New School in 2007, purchased a WWII-era Castle Film on eBay. The 1944 newsreel depicted the U.S. bombing of Truk atoll, the Pacific island that had been his grandparents’ home. In Grandfather, his first 16mm production, Kinder intercuts the found footage with his own hand-drawn direct animation. One of the award jurors, filmmaker Laura Kissel, notes that the moving piece “scavenges archival footage of war and juxtaposes it against handwritten notes that remember his grandfather. This cameraless film insists upon the personal in an age of violence and war.”

Feb 9, 2008

Rediscovered Spanish cinema

(46 days 'til Orphans 6)

Thanks to the Filmoteca Española in Madrid, the doyen of Spanish film historians, Román Gubern (Universidad Autonoma de Barcelona) will be attending the symposium. Gubern joins Paula Félix-Didier (director, Museo del Cine, Buenos Aires) in introducing the debut screening of the newly-preserved 35mm film Noticiario de Laya Films No. 3 (1937).
The ten-minute reel, long-thought lost, turned up in an inventory at the NYU Tamiment Library, as did three reels of associated footage. All have been preserved by Cinetech
for Orphans 6. Our screening will feature a new score for the silent outtakes, plus a response by Steven Marsh, author of Popular Spanish Cinema under Franco (2005).