Nov 22, 2009

Ash & Mack Receive Helen Hill Awards; Mack & Ash Receive Helen Hill Awards

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For the second time, the NYU Orphan Film Symposium has conferred its Helen Hill Award on two filmmakers whose work embodies Helen's independent spirit and artistic legacy: Danielle Ash and Jodie Mack.

Danielle Ash is a Brooklyn-based media artist who received an MFA in Experimental Animation from CalArts (2008) and a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (1999).  She has worked extensively as a producer, editor, title designer, and animator, while pursuing her individual work. Visiting her web site ( you can read about and see samples of her films, which include a dozen animated shorts.

Maureen Furniss, CalArts professor of animation and founder of Animation Journal, writes:

Danielle Ash's films take a delightful, hand-made approach to celebrating life's everyday moments -- the dance of pigeons, the blossoming of love, and the sights and sounds that define the spaces we live in.
Danielle is a gifted artist who brings together skills as a designer, musician, performer, and technical innovator -- blending them with a handcrafted aesthetic that is truly original.

Her work includes performances and installations using toys, puppets, and automata.

She also plays the musical saw.

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Jodie Mack received her MFA in Film, Video, and New Media from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her recent work includes the animated musical, Yard Work Is Hard Work (2008) and Twilight Spirit (2009), a music video for Judson Claiborne. She teaches at DePaul University, the University of Illinois Chicago, and the Art Institute's Early College Program, as well as the California State Summer School for the Arts (where Helen once taught and where, Jodie reports, she coincidentally stays in Helen's old dorm room).

Jodie studied at the University of Florida, where Roger Beebe was one of her professors. He writes:
Jodie Mack’s amazing energy was totally transformative, in both my classroom and our community. The first year of FLEX (the Florida Experimental Film/Video Festival) was possible largely thanks to her tireless efforts. 
I can also see, in those first exercises she did as a student, the germs of the incredible work she's done since. Helen Hill’s film “cookbooklet” Recipes for Disaster was a huge inspiration for her (as for many students who pass through my classroom). More than any student I've ever seen, Jodie is adding new pages to that wonderful resource Helen compiled.  Jodie's films come from a marvelous, idiosyncratic world full of bright colors, perpetually renewed handcrafted technique, and endless wordplay and song.
Sample more Mack at

She is also "starting a choir to perform with abstract animations."

Mack & Ash will both present films at the Orphan Film Symposium, April 7-10, 2010, in New York.

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Thanks to Susan Courtney and Laura Kissel (University of South Carolina) for jurying the Helen Hill Award, and to Larry Hembree (the Nickelodeon Theatre in Columbia), for watching over the award funds. As ever, we extend our gratitude to Helen's family -- Paul, Poppy, Becky, Kevin, and Jake -- for letting "Orphans" be affiliated with the loving legacy of Helen Wingard Hill.  

Nov 21, 2009

special journal issue THE MOVING IMAGE

Here it is. The special issue of The Moving Image, a peer-reviewed journal in which archival issues meet historical, theoretical, and critical analysis.

If you're not a member of AMIA (meaning you don't get a journal subscription automatically) you can subscribe here:

Or you can get this issue for $15.  At 260 pages, this issue (vol. 9, no. 1) is book-length. The essays are expanded versions of presentations made at the 6th Orphan Film Symposium in 2008. The theme of the event was "The State," broadly considered.

Here's the table of contents:

The State of Orphan Films: Editor's Introduction
Dan Streible

Are All (Analog) Films “Orphans”? A Pre-digital Appraisal
Paolo Cherchi Usai

The Bureaucratic Activist: Federal Filmmakers and Social Change in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Tick Eradication Campaign
Jennifer Zwarich                          

Garras de oro (The Dawn of Justice--Alborada de justicia): The Intriguing Orphan of Colombian Silent Films
Juana Suárez & Ramiro Arbeláez

Extended Family Films: Home Movies in the State-Sponsored Archive
Julia J. Noordegraaf & Elvira Pouw

Carl Marzani & Union Films: Making Left-wing Documentaries during the Cold War, 1946-1953
Charles Musser

Nothing Could Be Finer? George Stoney’s Tar Heel Family and the Tar Heel State on Film
Devin Orgeron

Experiments in Propaganda: Reintroducing James Blue's Colombia Trilogy
Jennifer Horne

Carl Sanders and Albert Maysles: Georgia Politics Meets Direct Cinema, 1969-1970 
Craig Breaden

The Army, Newsreel, and The Army Film
Eric Breitbart

Old-Time Religion: Christian Experimentalism and Preaching to the “Unchurched”
Paul Cullum

Between Sign-Off Films and Test Patterns: Insight at UCLA
Mark Quigley
Tributes to Bill O’Farrell by Rosemary Bergeron & Sam Kula, Ken Weissman, Charles Tepperman, Nancy Watrous, and Karan Sheldon

Reviews by Zack Lischer-Katz, Kylah Magee, Mia Ferm, Hideaki Fujiki, Jennifer M. Bean, Joshua Yumibe, Leigh Goldstein

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What is that cover image?  Everyone asks.
Answer: Dedication of 'Park Row' (MVTN 0-282), a curious newsreel fragment from the Fox Movietone News Collection at the University of South Carolina (now part of a USC unit called Moving Image Research Collections). That's a faux Trotsky at the mike, being played by Boris Charsky, whose brief Hollywood career included a role in Raoul Walsh's film The Red Dance. A good, old-fashioned publicity stunt, this piece with "Leon Trotsky of the Soviet Republic" was recorded January 27, 1928, on the Fox lot in Hollywood. The Red Dance was not in general release until December, although it had a New York premiere in June. Like most all "Movietoned" films of 1928, it had both silent prints and part-sound prints in circulation simultaneously.

The AFI Catalog indicates that a song was included on the soundtrack of The Red Dance:  "Someday, Somewhere (We'll Meet Again)," with music by Erno Rapée. A YouTuber posted his 78rpm record (Conquerer 7138, recorded Aug. 19, 1928) of "Someday, Somewhere" by a group called the Dixie Marimba Players -- since deleted. (But one must love one's arrangement featuring xylophone, Hawaiian guitar, and celeste, mustn't one?!)

You can even get the sheet music.


Nov 14, 2009

So-called Orphan Works in the news, again.

The, Nov. 13, reports
"Terms of Digital Book Deal With Google Revised."

On Friday, Google and groups representing publishers and authors filed a revised settlement in federal court.  The proposed agreement would set up a czarian "trustee" to oversee the redistribution of assets (licenses outside of Google, potential profits)  associated with orphan works previously digitized by the company.

Quoting the Times article:
    The revisions to the settlement primarily address the handling of so-called orphan works, the millions of books whose rights holders are unknown or cannot be found. The changes call for the appointment of an independent fiduciary, or trustee, who will be solely responsible for decisions regarding orphan works.  
     The trustee, with Congressional approval, can grant licenses to other companies who also want to sell these books, and will oversee the pool of unclaimed funds that they generate. If the money goes unclaimed for 10 years, according to the revised settlement, it will go to philanthropy and to an effort to locate rights holders. In the original settlement, unclaimed funds reverted to known rights holders after five years.

Most of those who objected to the first proposed settlement (including Microsoft, Yahoo,, and the Open Book Alliance) remain opposed to this second edition.

Nov 2, 2009

Meet MIRC; 中国电影资料馆

PRESS NOTICE for Oct 30, 2009

The University of South Carolina is expanding its archival film holdings with the newly created Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC).  Mark Cooper, Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies, serves as Interim Director of the unit, which is part of the University Libraries.

MIRC is the new home for the Chinese Film Collection, which includes more than 650 titles on 35mm and 16mm film in addition to 1,500 DVDs. The DVDs were donated by the Hanban, the international headquarters of the Confucius Institute, in cooperation with the Chinese National Film Archive and the Beijing Film Academy. The 35mm and 16mm films were donated by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in Washington D.C. Titles include such landmark fiction film titles as Cai Chusheng and Zheng Junli's 1947 The Spring River Flows East, Xie Jin's 1964 Two Stage Sisters, and Zifeng Ling's 1982 Rickshaw Boy, as well as diverse documentaries from the late 1940s to the present.

The Chinese Film Collection joins MIRC's unique and historically invaluable Newsfilm Collections, curated by Dr. Greg Wilsbacher. These collections include the Fox Movietone News Collection as well as major collections of local television news. MIRC is also home to several important collections of home movies and science and nature films.

For more about Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC) at the University of South Carolina, visit: