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. (www.nyu.edu/orphanfilm) 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.

-- dan.streible@nyu.edu 

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!