Nov 21, 2010

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The Moving Image (2012)
Special Themed Issue: 
Experimental / Avant-Garde / The Archive

The editors of The Moving Image seek proposals or completed essays for consideration in a special themed issue on experimental/avant-garde moving images and the archive, which will be published in 2012. One page proposals are due no later than Dec. 31, 2010. Essays are due no later than Apr. 1, 2011. The forum section of the journal is not peer-reviewed and is designed to feature shorter, less traditionally scholarly work, such as interviews with artists, think pieces on the challenges of working with experimental moving image materials, or profiles of archival collections. Essays in the “main” section of the journal are double-blind peer reviewed.

Topics for ARTICLES might include but are by no means limited to:

• Examinations of individual archival collections/holdings
• Archivally-inflected scholarship focused on a particular maker
• Archivally-oriented close readings of films/videos/installations/performances
• Scholarship on a filmmaker’s papers or films/videos
• Discussions of preservation and restoration
• Explorations of distribution and access

Because the journal features a FORUM section, we also welcome and encourage:
• Interviews (with filmmakers, video artists, archivists, distributors, collectors)
• Short “notes from the field” essays
• Manifestos
• Roundtable discussions (albeit virtual)
• “State of the field” observations


The Moving Image is the journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists.

For more information, visit our website:


Please e-mail proposals (one page in length), essays, or queries to Devin Orgeron, editor in chief, at devin_orgeron[at]

(above, not Devin Orgeron, but Willie Ritchie)


* Images appropriated from Alexander Rodchenko (Lilya Brik poster, 1924); Robert Beavers, Diminished Frame (1970/2001); Leslie Thornton, Chimp for Normal Short (1999); Man Ray; Bill Morrison, Decasia (2002), appropriation of Boxing: [Willie] Ritchie Trains (1923, Fox News; USC MIRC).

Nov 20, 2010

DOC NYC Festival of Storytelling: Orphans of NYC

DOC NYC | Orphan Film Symposium  |  IFC Center
November 7, 2010  | 4pm

Orphans  of  NYC

Prelude:  [Ramona & Jose Torres wedding film]  (1961)  silent, 14’
Source:  Anthology Film Archives; the Torres family (BluRay by Colorlab)
            lost film found, reunited with owners

Progress Indeed (2010, Russell Sheaffer and Jim Bittl)  1’  
Source:  NYU Tisch School of the Arts, Dept. of Cinema Studies
            trailer for the 7th Orphan Film Symposium

Grandfather (2008, James Kinder) 3’
Source:  James Kinder (Portland, OR)
            a student film from the New School, found-footage, direct animation

NYC Street Scenes and Noises (1929, Fox Movietone News) 4’
Source:  University of South Carolina, Moving Image Research Collections (Cinetech)
            early synchronous sound recording, from nitrate original, never-released outtakes

[Wallace Kelly’s New York] (1930) silent, 6’  introduced by Martha Kelly
Source:  Library of Congress, Center for Home Movies Collection (Colorlab)
            home movies, amateur film, experimental

[John Shaw Billings’ New York] (1940-49) silent, 10’
Source:  University of South Carolina, Moving Image Research Collections
            amateur film, home movies, Kodachrome

11 thru 12 (1977, Andrea Callard) 11’ introduced by Andrea Callard
Source:  NYU Fales Library & Special Collections (BB Optics and Colorlab)
            Super 8 sound, experimental, artist’s film

Sunday (1961, Dan Drasin) 35mm, 17’ 
Source:  NYU Film Study Center; UCLA Film and Television Archive; the Film Foundation
            teenage filmmaker’s independent documentary, copyright limbo

People’s Congressman (1948, Union Films) 12’ introduced by Charles Musser
Source:   NYU Tamiment Library (video transfer by
            rediscovered, campaign film, advertisement, blacklisted

French Lunch (1967, Nell Cox) 15’ introduced by Nell Cox
Source:  Nell Cox (New York, NY)
            independent documentary, not yet preserved

Oct 29, 2010

Googolplex (1972) by Lillian Schwartz

Of filmmaker, digital artist, and computer pioneer Lillian Feldman Schwartz, filmmaker Jodie Mack (Helen Hill Award recipient and Dartmouth professor) recently wrote (on Facebook): "Love her long time."

In September 2010, Walter Forsberg (filmmaker and NYU Library Research Fellow) introduced me to Lillian Schwartz's work, and to Lillian herself, who we met for a lunch and Orphans talk. Delightful.

She talked about her work with computers, avant garde composers, kinetic sculpture, experimental video at WNET, and of course her 16mm films. Lillian also encouraged us to follow-up with Walter's idea of preserving some of that work. Fortunately, she has kept all the work safe at Ohio State University's Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, home of the Lillian Feldman Schwartz Collection. There, Lisa Iacobellis has been supervising inspection of the many film and audio elements; now Walter and Alice Moscoso (NYU Library preservation department) has have begun to prepare some of them for film to film preservation at Colorlab. The library's finding aid says:

The collection contains correspondence, journals, catalogs, awards, financial records, scripts, publicity materials, clippings, books and articles by or about her, stills, film and video masters, outtakes, and notes on computer-generated films. Correspondents include Nobel Prize winners, famous scientists, musicians, artists, and curators and others still unknown to the general public but who also had a tremendous impact on culture and technology. The collection also includes drawings, computer graphics, and sculptures, as well as sketchbooks, artworks, and drawings going back to when she was a child.

Several Schwartz films are on YouTube. This one, Googolplex (1972), is indicative of the work that emerged from her collaborations with computer scientist Ken Knowlton while she was artist in residence at Bell Labs.

The 1971 film UFOs, by Lillian Schwartz and Ken Knowlton, is one we plan to include on the forthcoming DVD compilation from the Orphan Film Project.

Final note: the short documentary The Artist and the Computer (1976, AT&T) is a profile of Lillian at work.

Oct 27, 2010

Two Mores Reasons to Love

Few knew that when Orphans cofounder Julie Hubbert was on stage in New York discussing the music we heard in the newly preserved 1940 film One Tenth of Our Nation she was half-way through a pregnancy that would bring twins into the world. On September 13, 2010, Mira Lily arrived at 8:50am, followed two minutes later by Max Henry.

From their swell blog --- -- here's Papa Rich's photo of Mother Hubbert (sorry, I couldn't refrain) at home in Columbia with the two dearies.

The scenario was different in September 2002, when film music historian, Professor Julie Hubbert, hosted the 3rd Orphan Film Symposium in the USC School of Music. On that occasion she was clearly expecting and it was the deary named Eleanor who was born ten weeks later.

Ella, soon turning 8, doing some pet parenting while the twins were asleep.

As another symposium cofounder said after visiting this expanding family, Julie Hubbert "is one tough woman."

So tough that as she was waiting to go into labor she was choosing the cover illustration for her new and big book, Celluloid Symphonies: Texts and Contexts in Film Music History. So tough as I recall that after the closing panel of the 2002 Orphan Film Symposium, while everyone else went off to dinner celebrations, pregnant professor Julie stayed behind to do tech breakdown and lock up the music hall.

So Mira, Max, and Eleanor, be proud of your mom (and dad's) toughness.

And, please, gentle colleagues, no Miramax jokes.

Oct 24, 2010

The Orphan Film Project x7 (x2)

The Orphan Film Project. 

Since the Orphan Film Symposium, a biennial, has turned into a year-round endeavor, now seems the time to let all those efforts -- of students, teachers, archivists, labs, historians, curators, media artists -- become better credited as a Project with a capital P.  Informally, we have been working on lower-cased orphan film projects for several years.

The October 23 screening at the Museum of Modern Art was the first time a public event was branded as the Orphan Film Project. The audience responded enthusiastically to the 90-minute program. So let's take that as a good omen for the new surtitle.

Project here connotes a particular definition: a collaborative research enterprise designed to achieve a given aim. The aim remains the same: to identify and preserve all manner of significant but neglected films and to make them accessible and comprehensible. The in-person symposium is the big payoff every other year. The planning and design of the research need not (should not) be centralized. The work continues year-round and in many places. 

The MoMA screening was also an apt moment to "rebrand" the "Orphans" enterprise. The supposed off year for the symposium has been filled with special screening events. Next month, it's an "Orphans of New York" program for the DOC NYC Festival, at the IFC Center. In January 2011, there's an Orphans Redux night at Anthology Film Archives. Plans are afoot for a second Orphans West in Los Angeles next year. And the Wisconsin Film Festival has very recently inquired about adding something to its annual event this coming April. Each of these will have its own flavor of course, but they all stem from ideas, films, talks, and performances from past symposiums. 

Another new undertaking of the Orphan Film Project is issuing DVD compilations. The disc produced for the 7th symposium this past April turned into a fairly major undertaking: 11 titles, some original soundtracks, commentary audio tracks, and written annotations and preservation notes. The technical chops and creative juices came from Walter Forsberg, Jonah Volk, and Stefan Elnabli, working with the terrific collaboration of the NYU Libraries staff, especially Alice Moscoso and Ben Moskowitz in the Bobst Library's preservation department. Colorlab donated services of its top team and Broadway Video aided the pressing of the DVDs. Everyone who came to the symposium got a copy.

Only weeks after the April 2010 symposium wrapped, Messrs. Forsberg and Volk and Mlle. Moscoso decided we could do another DVD. The NYU Libraries is the supporting the production, and Colorlab insists on doing the best possible film-to-video transfers. By happenstance a few of the most likely suspects for inclusion on the DVD were related to the topic of space (as in outer space). Teenage Cosmonauts (1979-80) is a Soviet short found in the CPUSA Collection at NYU. John Lurie's Men in Orbit (1979) is a 16mm film that survives only on a U-matic videotape. And so we are compiling another eclectic group of orphan films, to be distributed (and not sold) in limited edition.  I am particularly excited about working with computer-film pioneer Lillian Schwartz, who made 16mm experimental works while artist in residence at Bell Labs, starting in 1968. 

More on the Project and its projects soon. 

Oct 22, 2010

To Save and Project: The Orphan Film Project x 7

Saturday, October 23
1:30 pm

To Save and Project
MoMA International Festival of Film Preservation

The Orphan Film Project x 7              

Host: Katie Trainor (MoMA Film Collections Manager)
Presenter: Dan Streible (NYU)

Trailer for Orphans 7

Beyond the Images in this Dark Box 
(Russell Sheaffer and Jim Bittl, 2010)

Scratch and Crow (1995, Helen Hill) 16mm, 4ʼ  
Source: Harvard Film Archive

[A Trip Down Market Street Before the Fire] (1906, Miles Bros.) 35mm, 13’
Music: Agatha Kasprzyk and Rafael Leloup (NYU Film Scoring)
Source: Prelinger Archives

The Passaic Textile Strike (1926, International Workers Aid) 35mm, 13ʼ
Accompaniment: Avigail Malachi (clarinet) and Elad Kabilio (cello)
Source: NYU Tamiment Library, CPUSA Collection

 Dedication of "Park Row" (1928, Fox Movietone News) 35mm,  6’ 

Television Pictures (1931, Fox Movietone News)

Spain Celebrates Her New Freedom (1931, Fox Movietone News) 35mm, 2’
Source: University of South Carolina, Moving Image Research Collections

With the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain (1938, Henri Cartier-Bresson) 35mm, 20ʼ
Narrator: Juan Salas (NYU)   
Source: Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives (, NYU Tamiment Library

A Letter from Colombia (1963, James Blue, USIA) 35mm, 10’
Source: National Archives and Records Administration

Fluorescent/Azalea (1976, Andrea Callard) 16mm, 4’   
Introduction: Andrea Callard
Source:  NYU Fales Library and Special Collections

8th Orphan Film Symposium, April 11-14, 2012

Sep 22, 2010

The 8th Orphan Film Symposium is in April 2012.


NYU Tisch School of the Arts’ Department of Cinema Studies presents the
8th Orphan Film Symposium
April 11-14, 2012
at Museum of the Moving Image
Astoria, New York

Museum of the Moving Image teams with NYU to host the 8th Orphan Film Symposium, the biennial gathering of scholars, archivists, curators, and media artists devoted to saving, screening, and studying neglected moving images. The renovated museum houses a 264-seat theater, a 68-seat screening room, galleries, an education center, and digital projection areas throughout its dynamic new space.

Rendering of the museum's new theater. Orphans 8 will be here!

Call for Presentations

“Made to Persuade”

The theme of “Orphans 8” is persuasion. What neglected film and video productions have influenced thought, opinion, behavior, and perception (or tried to)? What "pictures in our heads" come from moving pictures and sounds that were made to persuade us about something?

Among the many forms under consideration are: political campaign ads, advertising films, television commercials, newsreels, newsfilm, religious pictures, sponsored and sales films, promos, PR, PSAs, EPKs, military productions, clandestine or subversive work, trailers, teasers, snipes, documentaries, essay films, public affairs and public access programs, activist and advocacy pieces, propaganda, issue ads, culture jamming, stereotypes and counterstereotypes, intelligence work, censored footage, indoctrination and training films, triggers, guidance and educational films, amateur samizdat, and related orphan films and media.

Throughout the three days and four nights, selected speakers will lead presentations, screenings, and discussions. Proposals that include the screening of rare, rediscovered, or recently preserved works are encouraged. New media productions using archival material are sought for the symposium’s screenings as well, as are technical presentations on moving image archiving and preservation.

Send proposals (500 words or less, as attachments) to First round of proposal review begins 1.11.11.


• Orphan Film Symposium home page:

• Museum of the Moving Image’s expansion:

• Call for filmmakers applying to the symposium’s Helen Hill Award: the 2012 Helen Hill Award for independent filmmakers.

• Museum’s online exhibition “The Living Room Candidate: Presidential Campaign Commercials, 1952-2008”:


Aug 3, 2010

Orphan Radio: More listening to recovered history.

Two more "friends of the show" (the Orphans show, that is) followed Danielle Ash with interview segments on "The Leonard Lopate Show," WNYC-FM.

* * * *
Sam Bryan, longtime orphanista, discusses his father Julien Bryan's film Siege, documenting Nazi Germany's invasion of Poland in 1939 and released to U.S. theaters in 1940.

Information about the DVD.

The new DVD is published by Aquila Polonica.

Listen to the Bryan interview:

* * * *
Anna McCarthy talks about her great new book The Citizen Machine: Governing by Television in 1950s America (The New Press).

Listen to her here:

Aug 1, 2010

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Leonard Lopate Show interviews animator Danielle Ash

Listen to the July 30 broadcast-podcast here:

Award-winning filmmaker Danielle Ash talks about her work and discusses her recent films: "Pigeon Dance" and “Pickles for Nickels.” 

Jul 13, 2010

Bits & Pieces,  Nr. 711

While majors projects and forays swim beneath the surface during summer months, there are some odds and ends to report on the orphan film front.

"Film tramp" Bill Daniel (left) has taken up the orphan film banner and is flying it around the U.S. this summer, screening a 16mm collection of music films from the late-mid-twentieth century.  Read about the "Sonic Orphans" tour on his blog.

* * * * *
Several orphanistas (Walter Forsberg, filmmaker Meg Jamieson, et al.), pointed out July 8's article in Slate magazine: 

The Silence of the Silents:  
A heroic wiki project to identify lost and orphaned films.

A relatively recent venture, this iterative, wikified  method for identifying extant orphaned films and finding lost ones is a great idea. is helmed (as Variety would say) by the Deutsche Kinemathek (Museum für Film und Fernsehen) Berlin. Partners in the Lost Films project include several archives with some of the largest collections in Europe:
  • Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv, Berlin
  • Friedrich-Wilhelm-Murnau-Stiftung, Wiesbaden
  • Centre national de la cinématographie (CNC), Paris
  • Filmarchiv Austria, Vienna
  • Národní filmový archiv, Prague
* * * * *

"Rachel Wilson teaches media production and research in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT [Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology] University. She attended Orphans 7 as part of her PhD research to establish an online digital archive for student films produced in Australian Universities."
         So reads her bio/byline in the just published Senses of Cinema, issue 55 (July 2010).
Read her report on the Moving Images Around the World symposium here:

* * * * *
Perennial favorite and orphan film frog/mascot Ro-Revus, star of Ro-Revus Talks about Worms (1971, watch it here), had a major tribute paid to his legacy at the Pocahontas County [West Virginia] Film Preservation Symposium & Moonshine Jamboree, 4th of July weekend.

Mr. Joe Bowie the Voice of Ro-Revus, was Pocfest's Guest of Honor.   The Columbia, South Carolina native and resident brought Ro-Revus memorabilia and told stories about his life with America's greatest frog. Dwight Swanson, Skip Elsheimer, and friends organized a special screening of a Ro-Revus episode of the SC ETV children's program The June Bugg Show (1967) unseen in public for 40 years! (courtesy of ETV and the UGA Peabody Awards Archive).  All unfolded at the Pocahontas Country Opera House, in Marlinton, West Virginia.

See a video clip of the star-struck Skip Elsheimer with Ro-Joe at 

 The Orphan Film Symposium has mailed Mr. Bowie a copy of its DVD Orphans 7: A Collection of Orphan Films. It includes all six minutes of Ro-Revus Talks about Worms, color-corrected by Colorlab. A DVD extra is an interview with Joe Bowie. 

* * * * *
Anyone who attended the 7th Orphan Film Symposium in April 2010, will recognize the face and brassy voice of Jude Kiernan (left), the NYU MIAP student who served as the acrobatic, head-setted stage manager, traffic coordinator, and troubleshooter throughout the three days and four nights.

Today, July 13, 2010, Jude and family welcome daughter Billie into the world. Not an orphan.

* * * * *
Forthcoming updates on several Orphan Film Project events, including:
• Films preserved through the Orphan Film Symposium screening at the Museum of Modern Art's "To Save and Project" showcase, this coming fall;

• "Orphans West II," a second mini-symposium on orphan films, sponsored by Los Angeles Filmforum (May 2011), TBA;
 • Audio and video documentation of the 7th Orphan Film Symposium going on-line soon;
• Announcement of dates, location, and theme of Orphans 8 in Spring 2012.
* * * * *

And. . . the Wikipedia entry for "orphan film" now has outtake video of Rick Prelinger and Howard Besser (NYU) answering the questions "What is an orphan film?" and "What is the Orphan Film Symposium?"

Video shot by Erin Curtis (now at SC ETV, with Ro-Revus!) and Lauren Heath (now an NYC-SC commuter-mediamaker) at the 2006 symposium at the University of South Carolina.

May 10, 2010

the passing of Callie Angell

Callie Angell and Jonas Mekas (April 9, 2010)

Very sad news. 

Word came this past weekend that Callie Angell has died.

Less than a month ago we heard from this brilliant scholar and curator at the screening of the newly preserved Warhol film Uptight #3 -- David Susskind. It was a thrill to work with her on the Danny Williams/Andy Warhol film presentations, which Sarah Resnick, Esther Robinson, and Katie Trainor revved up for Orphans 7.

Callie said yes right away when, in 1999, I asked her to speak at the first Orphan Film Symposium, at the University of South Carolina. And she said yes right away ten years later, when invited to speak at the 2010 symposium. She was eager to attend all four days. She was delighted to see, for the first time, the funny 1967 local TV news piece in which Andy goofs on a square reporter curious about the Exploding Plastic Inevitable (film shot in Rhode Island, brought to us courtesy of Stephen Parr).

So it's especially shocking to learn of Callie Angell's death, less than a month later. 

Callie knew so much. As compiler of Warhol's  film catalog raisonné, she no doubt saw more of his voluminous work than anyone. As Jim Hoberman writes in his Village Voice piece (see below), it was she who pointed out that in the supposedly uneventful eight-hour Empire, one can see reflections of Jonas Mekas and Andy standing behind the camera. When I was hungry for any scrap of information about Warhol's unreleased 1965 film Drunk, Callie generously shared her notes on it. She was, after all, the only person to see the film since '65.

Sarah, Katie, Callie, Esther, Todd (April 9, 2010)

Below are links to some tributes to and memories of Callie, which her curatorial assistant Claire Henry put together and asked be circulated. (Thanks to Bill Morrison for passing this along.)
from Callie’s family in the NYT:
New York Times obituary by Niko Koppel
from the Whitney Museum in the NYT:
J. Hoberman, the Village
        J. J. Murphy:
David Schwartz (Museum of the Moving Image): 
Douglas Crimp, Artforum: 

Take care of one another.


May 5, 2010

the most famous film archivist in the world for the past two years

The May 5 New York Times has a good write-up of the archival details behind Fernando Peña and Paula Félix-Didier's rediscovery of the complete Metropolis. The former, sadly, was unable to join us at the recent Orphan Film Symposium. But the latter, happily, was. In fact, Paula has already come to New York again. This time "the most famous film archivist in the world for the past two years" is in NYC for the premiere of the restored Metropolis at Film Forum.

Saludos, orphanistas.

Paula Félix-Didier (center) talks with Bill Brand (right) and Kara Van Malssen at the 2006 Orphan Film Symposium in Columbia, South Carolina.

Apr 28, 2010

Pictures from the National Film Board of Breadland*

Jodie Mack and Danielle Ash received the Helen Hill Award for the 2010 Orphan Film Symposium. NYU Cinema Studies and the University of South Carolina Film and Media Studies program hosted the event and screening at the SVA Theatre in Manhattan.  April 8, 2010.

Here's a host of photos from their pre-screening presentation and tea party (lower-case) toasting. The screening was entitled "The National Film Board of Breadland."*

Download individual photos here:


*"The National Film Board of Breadland" is the fictional entity that produced training films for the Queen of Breadland, as seen in By Bread Alone (ca. 2003), Haley Lou Haden's New Orleans puppet theater production. Helen Hill made the film for the puppet program. The allusion to the National Film Board of Canada (for which Helen once worked) and its notoriety in animation was also paid tribute to at the 2010 Orphan Film Symposium screening. Preceding Danielle Ash's Pigeon Dance (2007) and Helen Hill's Scratch and Crow (1995), we screened Norman McLaren's Hen Hop (1942/49), from the National Film Board.

Apr 26, 2010

a Canadian Orphan Film Symposium

I dunno what's come of it, but a year or so ago four Canadian scholar/ archivist/ filmmakers (three alumni of past Orphan Film Symposiums), established this website, Cinephemera.

Our Objective
      To create awareness of orphan media and to excavate, preserve, and contextualize a variety of alternative, non-theatrical, obscure or obsolete forms of Canada’s audio-visual heritage. Also, we are in the process of creating an orphan film symposium here in Canada.

Canadian Orphan Film Symposium 
      Similar to the orphan film symposium in the U.S. ( we would like to start an orphan film symposium in Canada. This symposium would consider the material conditions of the circulation of these media, the historical exhibition and reception contexts, the concrete issues related to their preservation and accessibility (storage, copying, preservation, copyright, and digitization), and issues surrounding their study, programming and curation. This symposium would be an opportunity for archivists, librarians, scholars and filmmakers working on orphan film in Canada to share their research and create a viable lobby for the preservation of our fragile audio-visual history.

Reading this while also brainstorming about a forthcoming Advisory Board for the OFS (the capitalized one) leads me to think that a new level of maturation has come to "Orphans."  One rationale for having a board of advisors is to make the symposium and the Orphan Film Project more sustainable, to set up succession. 

However, the symposium, it seems, has rippled synchronically, regardless of what comes diachronically. If independent groups, particularly in other nations, are establishing parallel (but not affiliated) symposiums and projects, then a central entity becomes unnecessary. No reason for an "ofs" (lower-case, as in the Cinephemera text) in Canada --or the Netherlands or Singapore -- to "compete" with one (or more) in the U.S. (And no reason to trademark or brand the phrase; that wouldn't be orphanistic.) 

That said, all such enterprises, including NYU's, will be modest and marginal, compared to the big media ventures in the world. It's better for our mutually assured survival, and for the strengthening of ideas and actions, to let a hundred flowers bloom (or a thousand, as we non-Maoists say). 

In fact, since Canada is where a South Carolinian's Madame Winger, Recipes for Disaster, and National Film Board of Breadland were conceived, it only seems right to go there. 

Meanwhile, discussions are underway for 2012 to have Orphans 8 at a venue such as the Museum of the Moving Image (Astoria, Queens) or the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (Silver Spring, Maryland). Or wherever the event can find safe harbor. And maybe Orphans 2014 in Amsterdam.

Other suggested locations?  Need: 250+ seats; archival projection equipment.


Apr 23, 2010

Through the Images in This Dark Box....

For Orphans 7, Russell Sheaffer and Jim Bittl made four trailers. A way to start the day and to acknowledge those who made the show possible.

Here's one of the four.

Through the Images in This Dark Box.

Footage source: A Few Notes on Our Food Problem (1968, James Blue, USIA).

Apr 18, 2010

Around the World with 80 Films

Rumor has it that the 7th Orphan Film Symposium was a success. Details to follow.

Meanwhile, here's Jonas Mekas introducing The Cry of Jazz (1959).

photos: Anoosh Tertzakian

Apr 11, 2010

Wrapping Things Up

After approximately eighty movies, seventy presenters, twenty-two panels, films in over a dozen formats, and four glorious days, the 7th Orphan Film Symposium has come to an end. Much thanks has to go to all who helped put on this massive undertaking, especially to the mastermind behind it all, Dan Streible. Please also take a moment to peruse our list of sponsors, without whom none of this would have been possible.

While this year's symposium may be over, please keep checking here for Orphans-related content still to come. In the coming weeks and months you can expect audio from nearly every presenter to appear on the web, as well as video and photos from many presenters. To read more about this year's Orphans, look at the program website for more information about specific presentations, or below read a sampling of what people have been writing about this year's Orphans:

Cullen Gallagher and Mark Asch, "Get to Know the Seventh Orphan Film Symposium," L Magazine, Apr. 7, 2010.

Eric Kohn, "Orphan Film Symposium: Watch, Listen and Learn,"  Screen Rush, Apr. 4, 2010.

Heather Baysa, "Film School of Hard Knocks: Every Two Years These Orphans Get a Home," Village Voice, Apr. 6, 2010.

Jennifer R. Waxman, "7th Orphan Film Symposium DVD Produced at NYU Libraries," The Back Table, Mar. 31, 2010.

"Orphan Film Symposium," Moving Image Source.

Thank you again to everyone who helped make this amazing event happen!
-Ben Strassfeld

Apr 1, 2010

Listening to Orphan Films

Listen to the 3/31/2010 WNYC interview about the Orphan Film Symposium. Part of "The Leonard Lopate Show."

Jonathan Capehart (Washington Post) guest-hosted for L.L. You might recognize Capehart from appearances as a commentator on MSNBC and such.

Doesn't he look awfully young to have won a Pulitzer Prize -- 11 years ago!


Mar 30, 2010

Music for Orphans

Since orphan films are often discovered without sound, a score, or even information on how they were originally screened (assuming they were screened at all), there is always a question of how to present the films to an audience in a way that will be both authentic and entertaining.  Many of the pieces featured in this year’s Orphan Film Symposium fall into this silent dilemma, including a variety of works from the silent era and amateur films recorded without sound.  After careful discussion on how to best screen each film, decisions were made to present several with an appropriate soundtrack or live accompanist, provide a lecture or narration for others, and to keep a few (very short) films completely silent. Music was the preferred option whenever possible, which lead to a few controversial choices.  

One of these situations involves providing piano accompaniment for the historical stag film The Janitor (ca.1930, Kinsey Institute Film Archive).  While perhaps not historically "accurate" (was a pianist present at this type of screening?) the music, performed by Ed Pastorini, will certainly relieve some awkwardness associated with watching pornography with our colleagues in total silence.  Ethnographic films and other representations of ethnic "others" also present a challenge of creating an authentic score without repeating the racial and cultural stereotypes that were often present in silent era film scores.   Fortunately, the musicians at this year’s symposium, including silent film music experts Marty Marks and Donald Sosin, can draw upon their years of experience in dealing with these issues to provide the best possible accompaniment. In addition, the added enjoyment of their performances should encourage discussion.

This year’s symposium will feature soundless film and video with live narration, newly recorded scores, and a variety of musical performances.  Performers include jazz pianist and indie rock musician Ed Pastorini, expert film accompanist and Senior Lecturer in Music at MIT Marty Marks, silent film accompanist extraordinaire Donald Sosin, electronic musician T. Griffin, and classical pianist Elaine Brennan, who is joining us from Ireland. Additionally, the NYU Steinhardt Film Scoring Program, headed by Professor Ron Sadoff, has created a brand new, innovative electronic score for A Trip Down Market Street (1906), premiering on the final evening of the symposium with Rick Prelinger's new 35mm print.

-- Noelle Griffis

Mar 28, 2010

DVD cover art by Alyssa Diaz

Here's the penultimate draft of the cover for the DVD box, which will contain that 11-film line-up described in the previous blog post. 

A DVD with footage of Patti Smith and Ro-Revus. 
(Not available in stores.)

Mar 21, 2010

DVD Sampler of Orphan Films

Three students graduating from the NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation master's program in six weeks -- Stefan Elnabli, Walter Forsberg, and Jonah Volk -- have produced a DVD.  It's a fully outfitted production, with liner notes, nice graphic design, finest film-to-video transfer, preservation notes, original scores, and commentary tracks.

This Orphan Film Sampler will be given to attendees at the rapidly upcoming 7th Orphan Film Symposium, which commences April 7th. It's not a collection of items from this year's symposium, but an assortment of films shown at past symposiums, alongside orphaned works not showcased before.

Here's the list of 11 entries:

 • The Passaic Textile Strike, reel 5 (International Workers Aid, 1926)
Jenkins Orphanage Band (Fox Movietone News, 1928)
World's Youngest Acrobat (Hearst Metrotone/Fox Movietone, 1929)
Tales from Tamiment (Louis W. Kellman, for the Rand School of Social Science's Camp Tamiment, ca. 1932)
Berlin Olympics home movies (unknown, 1936)
With the Abraham Lincoln Brigade in Spain (Henri Cartier-Bresson with Herbert Klein, 1938)
NYU Surveillance Film of 3/6/68 Dow Chemical Demonstration (NYU Campus Security, 1968)
 • Ro-Revus Talks About Worms (South Carolina ETV, 1971)
 • [New Year's Eve at CBGB's] (Amos Poe, ca. 1978) 
 • let's just kiss + say goodbye (Robert Blanchon, 1995)
 • Homage to H. Lee Waters (Bill Brand and Julia Nicoll, 2004)

 The DVD will not be sold.  In fact, no money changed hands in the compilation and production of these orphan films -- thanks to the generosity of Colorlab, Broadway Video, NYU Libraries (University Archives, Fales Library, Tamiment Library, and the Preservation & Conservation Department), South Carolina ETV, the University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections, Library of Congress, the Abraham Lincoln Brigade Archives, CPUSA, Amos Poe, NYU Steinhardt Music Program in Film Scoring, and the Tisch School of the Arts/Cinema Studies.

Mar 16, 2010

Old and New Media after Katrina after Orphans 7

The 2010 Orphan Film Symposium is now but 22 days away. The program went to the printer yesterday. The full program is online, with annotations galore. 

Meanwhile, as Orphans 7 gets set to host Helen Hill Award winners Jodie Mack and Danielle Ash, a new book with a chapter on Helen Hill and her film work has been announced by