Jan 30, 2010

Irish Orphan Films II: Lost, Overlooked & Forgotten Cinema

From Sunniva O'Flynn, Curator at the Irish Film Institute, comes this follow-on to yesterday's notes about the "Orphanage" at the Dublin International Film Festival. Two weeks after the DIFF ends, Ireland hosts another event that's an even closer cousin to the Orphan Film Symposium.  

After two years as a silent film festival, this event is expanding to become the Killruddery Film Festival Celebrating, Lost, Overlooked & Forgotten Cinema. Sunniva O'Flynn (I believe that might be an Irish name, eh) says the screenings take place in a beautiful old estate house (or on the beautiful lawn these photo below shows) where Lord and Lady Meath preside (and still reside).  

Every cineaste's hero, Kevin Brownlow, will select and present some of the silent films. In the other strand of programming, the Killruddery site reports that a "small number of very special guests" will "select and introduce a favourite film" that never reached "the audience it deserved." Also on the programme:  illustrated lectures, a reading room/library, a café, and a bar (imagine!) 

Jan 29, 2010

the risk of broadmindedness [67 days to go]

Thanks to Union Docs for its interest in orphan films and symposing on same. Quixotic?  No doubt.

Here's a thoughtful blog response to last weekend's screening.

Crate Digging: The Orphan Film Symposium

January 29th, 2010 by Colin Beckett


Jan 28, 2010

Orphans at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival

Some call it Jay-Diff....

From the Irish Times, this description of an interesting sidebar at the upcoming Dublin International Film Festival (Feb. 18-28, www.JDIFF.com):
An orphan film is one that no longer officially belongs to any individual or corporate entity. This intriguing event – Installation? Exhibition? – will put a number of the oddest orphan films before visitors to a specially designed space at Cultivate on Saint Andrews Street. Savour such curious delights as a Turkish Wizard of Oz and a North Korean Godzilla.  Cultivate at The Greenhouse, St Andrews Street, runs throughout festival.
* ** * * * * * * ** * ** * * ** * * ** * * * * 
And then this, from the festival catalog:
       An ‘orphan film’ is any motion picture that has been abandoned by its owner or caretaker. Usually, the term refers to all manner of films outside of the commercial mainstream: public domain materials, home movies, outtakes, alternate endings, undeveloped reels, unreleased material, industrial, medical and educational movies, CCTV footage, just about anything that’s unloved, unwanted or forgotten. To celebrate these parentless films, the festival will be hosting a unique installation at the Greenhouse on Andrews Street. In keeping with the Greenhouse’s green ethic – it is part of the Cultivate community – the setting will be composed entirely of recycled elements. Indeed, the Orphanage could be seen as a celebration of the possibilities of recycling. The furniture, decorations and art works that decorate the space will all be composed from found objects. Most significantly, the films themselves are, in some sense, all needlessly discarded objects. Among the delights on display will be Planet Wars, the famous (perhaps notorious) Brazilian remake of Star Wars, released just five, barely legal months after Lucas’s film hit South America.
Also have a glance at utterly hilarious Turkish takes on ET (Badi) and The Wizard of Oz (Aysecik in the Land of Magic Dwarfs). If you want something semi-respectable then visit when The Old Dark House, James Whale’s follow-up to Frankenstein, is occupying the monitor. If you’d like to witness a legendary folly then check out Pulgasari, a North Korean version of Godzilla. Shin Sang-ok, the film’s South Korean director, was famously kidnapped by Kim Jong-il and forced to do the film-mad dictator’s weird bidding. Odd.
Credits:  Remakes by Evan Doherty.  Space by Alan Kelly. Curated by Tara Brady. Hosted by Cultivate.
 ** * * * * * * ** * * ** * * ** * 
Odd. Fun. Interesting. Something for everyone. And this Orphanage installation certainly shares the funky diversity of the Orphan Film Symposium generally.  

Should the symposium be flattered that the first two sentences are taken verbatim from its own website and longstanding descriptive definition of 'orphan film'?  No doubt. It all derives from National Film Preservation Act language anyway.

In a similar vein, the Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science (lu.com/ODLIS) by Joan M. Reitz alludes to and borrows from SC.edu/orphanfilm/definition.html:

orphan film
     Narrowly defined, a motion picture abandoned by its creator, owner, or caretaker, or lacking the commercial potential to assure preservation. Broadly speaking, a film outside the commercial mainstream, including public domain materials, industrial and educational films, newsreels, independent documentaries, scientific and ethnographic films, experimental films, silent-era productions, amateur works, and films of small or unusual gauge. The National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF), a charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board (NFPB) of the Library of Congress, awards federally funded grants to archives for the preservation of historically, culturally, or aesthetically significant orphan films. Click here to learn more about orphan films.
It's all true.

And click here to register for the 7th Orphan Film Symposium, April 7-10, 2010, in New York. Only 68 days before we kick off on that Wednesday evening with an 8:00 pm screening at the SVA Theatre. 

About 230 people have already signed up for the 267-seat space.

Maybe Jameson is interested . . . . 

Jan 23, 2010

the L Magazine (NY) and Gallagher on Barstow

Quick note the start of the two-night orphan film events at Union Docs. In Brooklyn: the L and the CBG.


Good times last January also, when Dr. Robbins Barstow's amateur film Disneyland Dream (1956) made it to the National Film Registry.


Jan 20, 2010

filmmaker Edward O. Bland's new blog for THE CRY OF JAZZ

The NYU Orphan Film Symposium is premiering the restoration of THE CRY OF JAZZ (1959), Friday, April 9, at 8:00pm, at the Visual Arts Theater, 333 W. 23rd St. (New York).

This e-mail notice came in today:

I have launched a new blog to celebrate recent attention to my half-century old film THE CRY OF JAZZ.
Apparently the younger generations consider this film a "classic."
Here's the link:  http://ggdaddybland.blogspot.com/

Oh, the blog's name, ggdaddybland, comes from the fact that some people call me the "Great-Grandaddy of Hip Hop" because of the confrontational qualities of both my music and this film.


Ed Bland

The redoubtable Mr. Bland also has this great website:  EdBlandMusic.com

Jan 17, 2010

How many women filmmakers are represented on the National Film Registry?

When the Library of Congress named its annual 25 films to the National Film Registry for 2009, some of us noted that 5 of the titles were by women filmmakers. That's only 20%, but notably more than usual (e.g., zero in 2008).

But even advocates campaigning for more films by women on the Registry underestimated the number. While we could debate what screen credit one must have to be considered the maker of a film, for the moment let's use the conventional measure of director.

Of the 525 titles now on the National Film Registry, there are 31 directed or co-directed by women.

1. Matrimony's Speed Limit (1913) Alice Guy Blaché
2. Mabel’s Blunder (1914) Mabel Normand
3. The Curse of Quon Gwon (1916) Marion Wong
4. Where Are My Children? (1916) Lois Weber
5. Grass (1925) Merian C. Cooper, Ernest Schoedsack, Marguerite Harrison
6. The Forgotten Frontier (1930) Marvin Breckinridge
7. A Study in Reds (1932) Miriam Bennett
8. Trance and Dance in Bali (1936-39) Margaret Mead
9. Cologne: From the Diary of Ray and Esther (1939) Ray and Esther Dowidat
10. Commandment Keeper Church, Beaufort, SC (1940) Zora Neale Hurston
11. Dance, Girl, Dance (1940) Dorothy Arzner
12. Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid
13. In the Street (1948) Helen Levitt, James Agee, and Janice Loeb
14. The Hitch-Hiker (1953) Ida Lupino
15. Glimpse of the Garden (1957) Marie Menken
16. Little Fugitive (1953) Morris Engel, Ruth Orkin, and Ray Ashley 
17. The Cool World (1963) Shirley Clarke
18. Through Navajo Eyes (1966) Maxine & Mary Jane Tsosie, Susie Benally, Alta Kahn
19. Time for Burning (1966) Barbara Connell and Bill Jersey
20. Frank Film (1973) Caroline and Frank Mouris
21. Antonia: Portrait of a Woman (1974) Judy Collins and Jill Godmilow
22. The Buffalo Creek Flood (1975) Mimi Pickering
23. Quasi at the Quackadero (1975) Sally Cruikshank
24. Harlan County, USA (1976) Barbara Kopple
25. Powers of Ten (1978) Ray and Charles Eames
26. The Life and Times of Rosie the Riveter (1981) Connie Field
27. Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982) Amy Heckerling
28. Drums of Winter (1988) Sarah Elder and Leonard Kamerling
29. Daughters of the Dust (1991) Julie Dash
30. The Red Book (1994) Janie Geiser
31. Scratch and Crow (1995) Helen Hill

Since some titles have more than one director, that's actually 36 female filmmakers.

Of the movies directed by men, there are no doubt some that arguably had women exerting an authorial influence over the production.  The group Women in Film and Television, for example, has been lobbying for films with influential women screenwriters. A good idea -- although I think campaigning for The Big House (the 1930 MGM prison film for which Frances Marion won an Academy Award as writer) is a bit odd. The redoubtable Frances Marion wrote 3 films already on the Registry: Mary Pickford's The Poor Little Rich Girl (1917), the Valentino picture Son of the Shiek (1926), and The Wind (1928, directed by Victor Seastrom and starring Lillian Gish).  Since she has over 150 screenwriting credits, my guess other Marion films will get Registered down the line.

There are many more films deserving of the designation "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The more we learn about the neglected cinemas of all stripes, the more surprises we find. It's too simple to say that women were/are historically not empowered to direct Hollywood feature films. Certainly recent research in silent-era film history has uncovered far more work by women directors than our generation previously thought. Why, then, presume we won't discover even more from other periods, especially if we consider all films of significance and not just theatrical features?

Jan 16, 2010

Docs that Rock

Docs that Rock

excerpt from the website BrooklynBased.net.

"UnionDocs pulls directors in the door, but also works with like-minded groups to put on events like its weekend of Orphan Films (January 23rd & 24th), a forerunner and accompaniment to an NYU Symposium on the same topic planned for April."
Indeed there are two rounds of screenings and even an orphan film workshop.

Location? 322 Union Ave. in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY.  (Take the L, G, or J train, they say.)


Jan 8, 2010

digiday:DAILY - If I Ran The Google

Kudos to Kenny McDougal and Ken Horowitz for the poem "If I Ran The Google."

Here's an excerpt:

With Google Books fixed, I could say “This is groovy,”
Then move on the way, to start scanning a movie?

The studios would squawk, as all Googlers should know,
This time ask permission ere you enter the show.
But lots of films out there are orphans, you know,
Abandoned by owners whom nobody knows.

They’re sitting in archives, these stories on reels,
Preserved for the future, but making no deals.
Jon Stewart made fun, on his show, of the archives[ii],
Dissing good folks making sure film survives.

Close Read on the National Film Registry (and Gigli)

Close Look: Helen Hill

Here's a nice piece from NewYorker.com about Helen Hill's Scratch and Crow being named to the National Film Registry.

Feel the love.

Fwd: CRY OF JAZZ screening

Below is a swell report from Andy Uhrich (NYU MIAP '10) on the screening and discussion of Edward O. Bland's film THE CRY OF JAZZ (1959), which took place at the Maysles Cinema in Harlem on January 7.  This showing was from a DVD of the film.

The 2010 Orphan Film Symposium will debut a restored film version, with discussion by director/composer Ed Bland, scholars Jacqueline Stewart and Anna McCarthy, and others. (Did you know that the landmark "First Statement of the New American Cinema Group" begins

       In the course of the past three years [1959-1961] we have been witnessing the spontaneous growth of a new generation of film makers -- the Free Cinema in England, the Nouvelle Vague in France, the young movements in Poland, Italy and Russia and, in this country, the work of Lionel Rogosin, John Cassavetes, Alfred Leslie, Robert Frank, Edward Bland, Bert Stern and the Sanders brothers.

-- and that Bland was a signer of this manifesto?)

Anthology Film Archives is currently preserving the film, with sound restoration by BluWave Audio, lab work by Colorlab, some advocacy from the Orphan Film Symposium, consultation with Ed Bland, and the organizational genius of Andrew Lampert.  Andy Uhrich also researched and helped write a Film Foundation grant during his summer 2009 Anthology internship.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Andy Uhrich <auhrich@nyu.edu>
Date: Fri, Jan 8, 2010
Subject: CRY OF JAZZ screening
To: Dan Streible <streible@gmail.com>, Jacqueline Stewart <jacqueline@northwestern.edu>, anna.mccarthy@nyu.edu

Greetings all,

The screening last night was really great. Thanks to the press [in the NEW YORKER] and Mr. [Armond] White's presence the screening sold out the 60 or so seat room. Mr. [Albert] Maysles was there in the front row videotaping the proceedings. While the audience skewed older, the audience was a diverse mix of age and ethnicity.

The audience was clearly engrossed in the film and laughed at the scene of the poodle clipping as an embodiment of privileged white life.

Mr. White is clearly an ardent fan of the film. He started the discussion by talking about the film as a "lost" film due to its provocative indictment of racism. So while he didn't use the term orphan that idea is the way he framed the contextualization of the film. He also talked about the film as an aesthetic work, noting its blending of documentary and fiction. He made a comparison to Eisensteinian montage in the editing of the film's depiction of African American life, which isn't too far off the mark as the film's editor [Howard Alk] was a huge fan of Eisenstein.

Mr. White also talked about the film in relation the new waves of the time mentioning BREATHLESS but mostly talking about it in comparison to PULL MY DAISY and SHADOWS. It goes without saying that he finds CRY better than all of those films. While he did not talk about Mekas and the New American Cinema he did talk about CRY in relation to what he called beat and bohemian films. He described the film as an African American response to Norman Mailer's WHITE NEGRO [1957]. He compared it favorably to Richard Wright's 12 MILLION BLACK VOICES [1941] as an evocation of the reality of the African American experience of racism (which, from talking from Bland's daughter after the screening, I understand was exactly the previous generation of Black intellectuals and activists that Bland et al. were reacting against). Mr. White also proved true to form as a partisan for Steven Spielberg when he compared CRY to THE TERMINAL, though he made the comparison fit by point out that Tom Hanks's character is an Eastern European jazz fan.

The question-and-answer session was one of the better public discussions I've ever been to. People were intrigued by the film but not afraid to question its conclusions. People asked about the film's reception at the time, commented on the interracial romance in the film, and talked about the idea that jazz is dead. Mr. White was a great moderator and -- in response to the fact that there are no black women in the film and that the portrayal of white women is perhaps less than flattering -- talked about the tendency of otherwise progressive groups to often be quite sexist (the Panthers, for example). It was actually rather amazing how the film still touched a nerve and made people want to talk about the issues it raises.

Oh, and Mr. Bland's daughter mentioned that the new preserved film would be screening at Orphans.



Jan 2, 2010


A symposium co-sponsoring a symposium?
You bet.

The Medical Film Symposium
Curated by Joanna Poses & Dwight Swanson
January 20-23, 2010
Philadelphia, PA

presented by Community Screen and the Greater Philadelphia Film Office

* National Library of Medicine
* Pennsylvania Humanities Council,
* Mutter Museum and the Francis C. Wood Institute of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
* University of Pennsylvania (Cinema Studies; History and Sociology of Science)
* International House of Philadelphia
* the Orphan Film Symposium.

The Medical Film Symposium will examine -- through screenings, presentations and papers --the relationship between moving images and medical science. Medical films comprised one of the earliest film genres, but the vast majority of these films are unseen and unknown today. The symposium will examine various categories of medical films: actualities and documentations of medical procedures, training films for health professionals, hygiene tutorials and contemporary medical imaging.

Symposium Schedule
January 20-23, 2010

* Wednesday, 7:00pm: Screening of A Man to Remember at International House (presented by Nico de Klerk of the Nederlands Filmmuseum)
Preceded by opening of Radiologic Images exhibit (begins at 6:00pm)
* Thursday, 7:00pm: Screening at International House (curated by Barbara Hammer)
* Friday, 7:00pm: Screenings at the historic Pennsylvania Hospital (curated by Andrew Lampert and Greg Pierce, open to symposium attendees only)
* Saturday, 9 to 5: Presentations at The College of Physicians of Philadelphia
* Saturday, 8pm: Screening at Moore College of Art (curated by Skip Elsheimer and Jay Schwartz)

Michael Sappol (National Library of Medicine)
Scott Curtis (Northwestern U)
Mara Mills (U of Penn)
Oliver Gaycken (Temple U)

Kirsten Ostherr (Rice U)
Devin Orgeron (North Carolina State U)
Dr. Nick Bryan (Hospital of the University of Penn)
Timothy Wisniewski (Chesney Medical Archives, Johns Hopkins University)
Patti Doyen (George Eastman House)

Registration fee: $80; $50 for students. (includes admission to screenings and presentations + breakfast & lunch Saturday). Payments to “Community Screen."

Community Screen
7035 Greene Street
Philadelphia, PA 19119

E-mail: info@medicalfilmsymposium.com