May 21, 2011

What happened at Celebrating Orphan Films? Part 2 -- Saturday

The headline for the day is that the 28mm projector worked flawlessly, while the computer projection of PowerPointy slides had to be hand-cranked, as it were. Not surprising, but work noting.

Chris Horak gave a presentation entitled "Designed by Saul Bass: The Alcoa Account." A healthy number of film scholars know that Bass (1920-1996) created amazing credit sequences and posters for Alfred Hitchcock and others, and some also know that Bass directed some films, especially the Oscar-winning short Why Man Creates (1968 -- which for some reason was shown on the very first episode of CBS's 60 Minutes). But to see some of this work in a bunch, as we did, is something of a revelation. The ingeniousness of Bass design is striking. Horak demonstrated the designer's influences from Bauhaus artist György Kepes and filmmaker/theorist Sergei Eisenstein.

Horak began by showing the opening title sequence from North by Northwest ("not an orphan film") and followed with numerous Bass-created logos and other film clips. The more memorable, and surprising, was from a lesser-known feature film, Something Wild (1961).  The lengthy black-and-white montage consists of shots of New York's skyline and a placeless sky in which we see only the sun and flocks of birds in formation. I can't say what the rest of Something Wild is like, but the Bass-made sequence alone makes me want to see it. That, and the fact that those credits consist of an interesting set of names: lead actress Carroll Baker, cinematographer Eugen Schüfftan (see Metropolis [!], etc., etc.), and director Jack Garfein (who was married to Baker, a fellow Actors Studio veteran). This was one of only two feature films that the theater director Garfein made, the other being the underappreciated, underdistributed The Strange One (1959, based on Garfein's Broadway debut effort, End as a Man). In praise of UCLA Film & Television Archive, it must be noted that the archive, in this same Billy Wilder Theater, paid tribute to Garfein in September 2010, showing both features and his third film: the documentary A Journey Back (1987) is about his revisit to Auschwitz, where he'd been imprisoned as a teen.

But I digress. Horak's presentation makes one anticipate all the more his forthcoming book on Saul Bass, for which he was awarded an Academy Scholar grant.

Throughout Saturday, Mark Quigley programmed very short "interludes" between panels, most from the UCLA collection. Animated TV station indentification reel (early 1960s) showed the work of TV Graphics Inc., an advertising company owned by Lee Blair, husband of Disney artist Mary Blair; featuring the work of Lee's brother, animator Preston Blair. The brief appearance of a logo for WOR-New York, drew a smattering of applause from some of the city's ex-pats. 

Love this handsome photo of the Mary and Lee Blair on a drawing tour of South America.

To be continued . . . . 

May 15, 2011

What happened at Celebrating Orphan Films?

Celebrating Orphan Films: a co-production of UCLA Film & Television Archive, NYU's Orphan Film Symposium, and Los Angeles Filmforum.
What happened on the first night, Friday, May 13, when these offbeat orphan films were projected on to the big screen at the Billy Wilder Theater? Some idiosyncratic morning-after descriptions.


in the projection booth at the Wilder Theater
 Progress, Indeed (Jim Bittl and Russell Sheaffer, 2010) 
     In the excitement of the kick off, Chris Horak called the session to order, and before we realized it, we'd forgotten to show this trailer from the 7th Orphan Film Symposium.  So we showed it after an intermission, and, indeed, it played well again, seeing John Wayne introduce clips of animation by Helen Hill, Jodie Mack, and Danielle Ash. The timing of its editing is spot on.

Madison News Reel (ca. 1932)
Recently declared a "cult film" by David Bordwell, we got the 35mm print of this short short only in the nick of time. There was some weird something about insurance that delayed getting it from Maine to Hollywood (ok, Westwood). Sean Savage (Academy Film Archive) delivered his deeply researched decoding of the film after we watched it cold. It's enigmatic qualities always are maximized when served cold. But, as Mr. Savage indicated, even explaining what one can about this truly uncanny compilation film of unknown provenance and vintage, mysteries still linger. For me, this film is evidence of how creative and uncliched the work of amateur filmmakers can be. 

The Augustas (1930s-1950s)
Presented/narrated by Heidi Rae Cooley (University of South Carolina), this time with her home-town parents in the house. Each time she shows this beautiful film with her digital-age examination of place, space, location, dislocation, tagging, data and metadata, the tight presentation of live voice and projection gets more polished. I'm starting to get it, the theoretical analysis, that is.  

The “Iron Horse” in Hollywood (Fox newsreel, 1925)
Introduced by Mark G. Cooper (University of South Carolina) watching this on a big screen made much more detail discernible. Unlike my DVD preview experience, this time it was obvious that several of the 'cowboy' performers had TOM MIX stitched on the back of their shirts in large letters. An important thing to think about given The Iron Horse was a Fox production, directed by John Ford, whose mythos of the American West is linked to Tom Mix. This footage was shot in front of Grauman's Egyptian Theater (where the LA Filmforum screens these days). Boy, there is no mistaking Sid Grauman in photos or footage. No one else had that hair cut.

Brother and Sister Motorcycle Act (Fox Movietone News, cinematographer Al Brick, 1931)
Staged and shot on a back road in Hollywood, Putt and Dessie Mossman.  I noticed that Brother Mossman rides an Indian make of motorcycle. And that he rides it "cowboy style," according to the announcer we hear (and oddly see on screen). "Just a little fun with Sister." A fine catchphrase that stood up well after subsequent screenings.

Light Cavalry Girl (1980)
"They'll be the hit of the festival," as Uncle Max said of the Von Trapp Family Singers in that famous non-orphaned film. And indeed, as we had hoped, there was much buzz about this short documentary. It enchanted those who I heard speaking about it later. Yongli's introducion to the film was, in a word, perfect. She made an artful set of animated Keynote slides, which culminated with us hearing a recently recorded telephone greeting (in Chinese) from the 81-year-old director of Light Cavalry Girl, Jie Shen. 

Two enlightening facts Yongli conveyed.  (1)  The women in this Chinese military unit appeared in the film without permission of their superior officers, so they were subsquently broken up as a unit and sent to a mundane policing duty. (2) Jie Shen believes that the film print we screened may be the only one in existence! And my question (3) weren't these cavalry girls riding Indian motorcycles too?

 UFOs (1971) and Galaxies (1974) by Lillian Schwartz, were both presented with viewers watching through Chroma-depth 3-D spectacles. It worked. Oohs and aahs. 

Robert Abel promo reel (1970s)
Tony Best (UCLA) gave a most excellent presentation of this reels compiling dozens of animated logos, stations IDs, commercials, promos, etc. made by Abel & Associates. One thing I appreciated was Tony giving a long list of the TV and ad industry terms for all the varying types of short-form productions. This bodes well for Orphans 8 -- Made to Persuade -- next year.

And Then They Forgot God (1971)
L.A.-based writer Paul Cullum and the irreplaceable Mark Quigley (UCLA) replicated the pitch-perfect intro to this existential Chrisitan humanist Lutheran drama and their down-a-rabbit-hole search for the title and then for a print. The colors in this surviving thing, even after color correction, are so washed out it's arty. And hearing a slight reverb in the sound track made for a subtle eery extra effect. Adam West as the prosecutor is Kafkaesque. Paul and Mark devined that his teledrama was the work of writer-director Sy Salkowitz, best known for the TV series Ironside. That on-screen credit was absent from the battered 16mm print the duo purchased, but it was on a print in the Billy Graham archive. So Mark was able to place it tactfully onto the video transfer we watched.  Evidence of how orphan films can be saved when Methodists, Catholics and Lutherans work together with Jews and evangelical Baptists.

Muzak (1972)
Reserve Film and Video Collection empresario Elena Rossi-Snook serendipitously popped up in L.A. from the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. She pluck this little gem from obscurity and brought it to our attention at an AMIA screening in 2010. Although it stands on its own as a curious and ambiguous mini-profile of the minds who were running the Muzak corporation, this film couples oh so nicely with And Then They Forgot God.  A 1971-72 present future in which people are diminished and manipulated by a distrubing, almost Borg-like apparatus.

What happened on Saturday, May 14, from 10am to 11pm at "Celebrating Orphans Films"?

More on that soon. . .  .

May 13, 2011

Almost show time

inside the Billy Wilder Theater at UCLA

May 10, 2011

posting this one more time!

Celebrating Orphan Films:
Screenings & Discussions
May 13-14, 2011
UCLA Billy Wilder Theater

A ten-dollar pass = admission to everything.

Friday, May 13
7:30 pm

Progress, Indeed (2010)
Jim Bittl and Russell Sheaffer created four trailers for the 7th Orphan Film Symposium, “Moving Pictures Around the World.” Here John Wayne learns about the innovative film techniques of Helen Hill, Jodie Mack, and Danielle Ash. Other trailers appropriate clips from the obscure Cromwell the Wicked (1926), General Motors Around the World (1927), a USIA film, and the Soviet propaganda marvel We Never Tire of Speaking of Mothers (1975).

Madison News Reel (ca. 1932)
Found in a barn in Bristol, Maine, this 200 feet of nitrate film was nearly overlooked amid a pile of empty reels. No one knows who made this uncanny collage, which references citizens of Madison, Maine. Introduced by Sean Savage (Academy Film Archive), who published a near-definitive study of this amateur compilation film of rare vintage. The animated logo (still at right) for the BCE, he notes, may be the only surviving copy of this once-common bit of film.
Source: Northeast Historic Film, Ronald Yates Collection.

The Augustas (1930s-1950s)
This 16-minute, 16mm silent compilation edits together footage taken of no fewer than 36 places called Augusta extant in the US during the years of amateur filmmaker Scott Nixon’s travels. Featuring road signs and other markers naming “Augusta,” it celebrates the expressive potential of keyword labels, which in the film come to designate not only several concrete places, but also no one place in particular. In this way, Nixon’s film offers a cinematic example of what have become familiar concerns in the context of recent social-networking communities: location awareness, self-documentation, and information-retrieval. Presented by Heidi Rae Cooley (University of South Carolina). Source: University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections (USC MIRC).

The “Iron Horse” in Hollywood (1925)
Fox newsreel footage shot on February 25, outside of Grauman’s Egyptian Theater. Promoting the release of John Ford’s epic The Iron Horse, a steam locomotive arrives (on flatbed truck), carrying Tom Mix’s cowboys and costumed Arapaho and Shoshone performers (although Ford’s cast and characters were Sioux, Cheyenne, and Pawnee). Introduced by Mark G. Cooper (University of South Carolina). Source: USC MIRC Fox Movietone News Collection.

Brother and Sister Motorcycle Act (1931)
On a back road in Hollywood, Putt and Dessie Mossman perform stunts for the Fox Movietone newsreel camera and microphone. Source: USC MIRC Fox Movietone News Collection.

Light Cavalry Girl (1980)
Produced by the Central Newsreel and Documentary Film Studio in China, Light Cavalry Girl, pays homage to the motorcycle stylings of the military’s top female cyclists. This ten-minute film was directed by one the country’s most prolific documentary filmmakers, Jie Shen. It won a Silver Medal at the Hungarian International Sports Film Festival. Introduced by Yongli Li of the Beijing Film Academy and University of South Carolina. Source: USC MIRC Chinese Film Collection.

Lillian Schwartz: two films by the pioneering computer artist
Introduced by Bill Brand (BB Optics) and presented for the first time in 3-D. Thanks to the filmmaker and to Walter Forsberg (NYU Libraries). Source: Ohio State University Libraries.

UFOs (1971)
This playful graphic work by Bell Labs artist-in-residence Lillian Schwartz and computer scientist Ken Knowlton features an array of computer-displayed forms that evolve and mutate into layers of colored abstract shapes. Preserved in 2011 by Brand and students in his NYU Film Preservation class.

Galaxies' 16mm mag track. Thanks to Walter Forsberg for leading the way.
Galaxies (1974)
Lillian Schwartz collaborated with NASA computer programmer Frank Hohl to create this colorful computer-simulation of disk-like “galaxies” moving through space at various speeds. Preserved by Colorlab for the Orphan Film Symposium’s forthcoming DVD.

Robert Abel promo reel (1970s)
This 35mm promotional reel highlights the work of pioneering visual effects firm Robert Abel & Associates, and includes the iconic, award-winning 7-Up television advertisement Bubbles (1974, right). Presented by Tony Best (UCLA Film & Television Archive).

And Then They Forgot God (1971)
Prolific episodic television writer Sy Salkowitz wrote and directed this outré dramatic telefilm set in a dystopian future. With a grim plot twist that rivals the darkest of Twilight Zone episodes, this humanistic parable centers on an average couple (Joseph Campanella and Beverly Garland) as they face starvation due to a Kafkaesque bureaucracy. Also features Adam West as a policy-obsessed prosecutor. Presented by writer Paul Cullum and Mark Quigley (UCLA). Source: UCLA Film & Television Archive.
James Campanella in And Then They Forgot God

Muzak (1972)
This idiosyncratic and funny documentary first aired on WNET-New York’s nightly TV news program The 51st State (1972-76). Filmmakers Tony Ganz and Rhody Streeter record straight [?] interviews with executives of America's "efficiency through music” corporation, revealing the pocket protector-clad social engineers of elevator music infamy. Introduced by Elena Rossi-Snook (NYPL). Source: Reserve Film and Video Collection, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts.

Saturday, May 14

10:15 am Introductions
Dan Streible (NYU Orphan Film Symposium) and Mark Quigley (UCLA ARSC)

Designed by Saul Bass: The Alcoa Account
Presented by Jan-Christopher Horak, Director, UCLA Film & Television Archive.
Noted as a pioneer of distinctive credit sequences and posters for Hollywood feature films, Saul Bass’ equally intriguing modernist television work is much less known. Some of these broadcasts works, including title sequences and commercials for the Aluminum Corporation of America, reveal that Bass was not only a student of artist, designer, and theorist György Kepes, but also of filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein.

+ Animated TV station indentification reel (early 1960s)
Demo reel of Mad Men-era, mid-century modern broadcast ephemera by TV Graphics Inc., an advertising company owned by Lee Blair, husband of Disney artist Mary Blair; featuring the work of Lee's brother, animator Preston Blair. Source: UCLA Film & Television Archive.

10:45 am 100 Years of Home Movies: 1905-2005

[Francena Feeding the Chickens] (1905)
A home movie from 1905? Yes! CHM guided it to LOC.
Pioneering Western filmmaker Charles Camp (1860-1929) shot this footage of his niece Frances during a visit to "the Bickling homeplace" close to the time of his four-month-long engagement at the 1905 Lewis & Clark Exposition in Portland, Oregon. This short document of his niece at home in Colorado, along with a series of stills from the 1904 roundup footage reproduced in Camp's 1928 book Muggins the Cow Horse, may be the only surviving remnants of Camp's cinematic work. Snowden Becker (Center for Home Movies) introduces the rediscovered film in this 35mm re-debut screening. Source: Library of Congress.

Projecting 28mm: [New Hampshire home movie] (ca. 1920)
Most 28mm gauge film prints were copies of 35mm movies, sold or rented for nontheatrical exhibition. But shortly before 1920, the American company Pathéscope released its New Premier Motion Picture Camera, which made it possible for amateurs to shoot on safety film. Amateur-made 28mm home movies rarely survive, and even more rarely are seen on original projectors. Archivist Dino Everett projects these found films on a 1919 model New Premier Pathéscope projector. Film and equipment made possible by the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive, USC School of Cinematic Arts.

Marie Dickerson Coker home movies (1930s-1950s)
As an accomplished singer, dancer, and musician, Marie Dickerson Coker performed at Los Angeles hot spots, including the Cotton Club. She was also one of the first African American women to receive a pilot's license, performing in air shows as a member of an all-female flying team. Coker's charisma shines in these recently discovered home movies, which include footage of her travels to Hawaii and moments from everyday life. Presented by Trisha Lendo (UCLA Film & Television Archive) & Leah Kerr (Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum).

Helen Hill’s home movies (2003-05)
The most recent preservation work on the flood-damaged Super 8 films shot by the late artist Helen Hill show the funky New Orleans scene that she and her husband Paul inhabited and animated. We see the couple’s house post-Katrina and other pieces of film used in The Florestine Collection (2011), “a film by Helen Hill, completed by Paul Gailiunas.” Introduced by Dan Streible (NYU), founder of the Orphan Film Symposium. Preserved by Harvard Film Archive with the Center for Home Movies; video and digital transfers by the Library of Congress.

Orphans 2006: Bill Brand advises Helen Hill on saving her Katrina-damaged films.

"What if you eat watermelon seeds?"
+ Fast Fax (1997-98)
Animator Helen Hill made these witty whimsical micro-interstitials (of 3 to 15 seconds duration) for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation’s educational TV series Street Sense. Thanks to the research of NYU student Jim Bittl, the original CBC broadcast masters were preserved in 2010 and copies deposited with the Helen Hill Collection, Harvard Film Archive.

12 noon Latterday Newsreels

NYC Street Scenes and Noises (1929)
In November 1929, a Fox Movietone newsreel van recorded synchronous-sound footage of two locations of concern to the city’s Noise Abatement Commission: Times Square and “Radio Row” (Cortlandt Street), with its many shops selling radio sets. Does the raw footage record noises, or a modernist city symphony? Source: University of South Carolina Moving Image Research Collections.

New York Street Scenes (1960)
B-roll newsreel footage shot in Manhattan, from a camera car traveling Broadway and 7th and 8th Avenues. Numerous takes showing Penn Station, Loew’s State Theatre, the old Madison Square Garden facade, the Smoking Camel billboard, the Coliseum building in Columbus Circle, and other buildings and theater marquees no longer extant. Preserved at UCLA Film & Television Archive in a newsreel preservation workshop as part of the Moving Image Archive Studies (MIAS) program. Presented by Roger L. Brown, MIAS alum.

Hearst News of the Day newsreels (1963-1967)
Excerpts from Hearst’s theatrically-released News Of The Day during its final years of production. In addition to a reel of newsreel stories compiled by a collector, and a newsreel issue covering the Watts riots of 1965, the presentation includes the final Heart newsreel, released in December 1967. Presented by Blaine Bartell, Senior Newsreel Preservationist, UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Lunch break

2:00 pm Tele-visions
+ Meadow Gold TV spots (mid-1950s)
Charming animation from TV Graphics, Inc., featuring characters from Mary Blair’s award-winning Little Golden Book, I Can Fly (1951). Source: UCLA Film & Television Archive.

The American Archive sizzle reel (2011)
Stephanie Sapienza (CPB) presents on behalf of the American Archive, a Corporation for Public Broadcasting initiative to locate, preserve, and make publicly accessible thousands of hours of public media from local stations, The Archive’s 2009 pilot project located 2,400 hours of audio and video recordings related to civil rights and World War II from 24 stations across the U.S. Rediscovered material includes a kinescope found by HoustonPBS: live coverage of a 1956 city council meeting addressing the racial integration of Houston schools. Dan Rather was in the reporters' pool, and the standing-room-only crowd was witness to a visceral public debate on race in America.

KTLA-TV newsfilm of the 1970s
Television historian Mark J. Williams (Darmouth College) presents selections culled from a larger collection of vintage KTLA news segments curated by UCLA's Archive Research and Study Center for an upcoming online exhibition. Starring: Mary Pickford & Eulia Love; Edith Head & Cesar Chavez; Anita Bryant & Roman Polanski.

Help Thy Neighbor (1952)
Described as "the first do-gooder of the airwaves," Hal Styles hosted the television series Help Thy Neighbor. People appearing on this live program told of their problems and viewers at home were asked to phone in with pledges of help. In this episode, Styles hosts a pregnant 15-year-old and a man whose wife had been missing. While earnest in its good Samaritan aims, the proceedings are draped in eerie shadows of human despair and voyeuristic exploitation. Presented by Dan Einstein, UCLA Film & Television Archive.

3:45 pm break

4 pm Experimental Out-takes

Outfest Legacy Project x2
UCLA preservationist Ross Lipman presents a pair recently preserved rarities.

Mona’s Candle Light (ca. 1950)
Collector Geoff Alexander discovered this 16mm film in an unmarked box he bought at a flea market. The unidentified filmmaker recorded performers (singer Jan Jensen and "drag king, Miss Jimmy Reynard") and patrons of Mona's, a lesbian bar in San Francisco. A deceptively simple document, it presents exceedingly rare images of queer life on its own turf, and on its own terms, a generation before gay liberation.

Epilogue / Siam (1969)
A diptych of intimate lyrical portraits by the late New York underground filmmaker Tom Chomont. Filmmaker/curator Jim Hubbard notes, “Chomont’s films offer a lyric depiction of the ordinary world, but at the same time reveal an unabashedly spiritual and sexualized parallel universe.”

Tom Chomont's Siam
A Fire in My Belly (1986-87)
While the infamous four-minute video of this title, recently created and then censored by the Smithsonian has now been widely seen, this longer (13-minute) rarely screened 16mm preservation print of David Wojnarowicz’s Super 8 work-in-progress reveals a film far more subtle and complex in its meaning and texture. Presented by Bill Brand (BB Optics), who preserved the film for NYU Fales Library & Special Collections.

The Word Made Flesh?
Unresolved Thoughts on the Unchecked Curatorial Power of Archivists
Mark Toscano (Academy Film Archive) presents

S.W. L.A. (1971)
Rob Thompson shot this short experimental film in Southwestern Los Angeles.

Snail Film (1972)
A mysterious and perhaps legendary piece made by animator Chris Casady while a student at CalArts.

5:30 pm College Collage: a Trio of Student Films

Kinky (ca. 1966)
This UCLA student film captures a psychedelic, kaleidoscopic montage of students, beatniks, and hippies on the sidewalk in front of Canter's Deli on Fairfax Avenue. The happening is edited to music by The Kinks. Presented by the filmmaker James Joannides, who co-directed with classmate Maurice Bar-David.

Patient 411: A Progress Report (ca. 1965)
A faux case study of a male hustler, produced by the "California Institute of Neuropsychiatry." The film’s onscreen credits for "technical staff" include "J. Morrison," which refers to then UCLA film student Jim Morrison, soon to gain fame as lead singer of The Doors. Morrison was cinematographer for the film and also provided creative input. Presented by the filmmaker, Ronald Raley.

Five Situations for Camera, Recorder and People (1965)
This beginning UCLA student workshop film intercuts absurdist sequences of increasing violence, providing a fascinating glimpse into UCLA's film school in the 60s, with then student Jim Morrison as location sound man. Director Alex Prisadsky recalls that working on Morrison's student film a week earlier helped to inspire some scenes in this production. Includes footage of a bonfire celebration after a Bruin basketball victory.
Read Alex Prisadsky's entertaining account of making films with Jim Morrison.

6:00 pm Dinner break

Saturday (cont'd)

7:30 pm Closing screenings, closing remarks

The Transgressor (1918) excerpt
Produced by the Catholic Arts Association amid the First Red Scare and released only in Catholic parishes and schools, this elaborately staged dramatic narrative promotes religious principles against the background of a violent clash between labor and capital. Presented by Andrew Myers (UCLA Cinema and Media Studies). Special thanks to David Shepard. Source: UCLA Film & Television Archive.

The Passaic Textile Strike (1926) reel 5
This legendary labor film, made by International Workers Aid to support New Jersey workers amid a bitter strike, survived in incomplete form until NYU’s Tamiment Library rediscovered a missing reel when it acquired the Communist Party USA Collection. The badly decayed nitrate film was painstakingly rescued by the Library of Congress, revealing a segment showing the plight of “the pale children of the hovels.” Introduced by Steven J. Ross (University of Southern California), author of Working-Class Hollywood.
Cello accompaniment by Shannon Kelley (UCLA Film & Television Archive).

The Unshod Maiden (1932)
This Universal sound-era parody of Lois Weber’s feature film Shoes (1916) uses a male voice-over commentary to mock a re-edited version of Weber’s earnest plea for women’s wage equity. Part of a wave of similar shorts, the movie demonstrates Hollywood’s rapid disregard for silent cinema in the wake of recorded sound and a broader disregard for Weber’s vision of politically-engaged popular cinema. Introduced by Weber scholar Shelley Stamp (UC-Santa Cruz), who was instrumental in the just-completed restoration of Shoes. Source: Library of Congress.

Two 16mm Paintings
Artists make films that are of, as, and about painting. Divergent approaches to visual pleasure are framed by a 1950s Uruguayan jazz improvisation and a 1960s minimalist gesture. Introduced by Bill Brand.

Color (1955)
This abstract work by Lidia García Millán is considered the first experimental film shot in color in Uruguay. Preserved by BB Optics, Trackwise, and the Library of Congress, for the Fundación de Arte Contemporáneo in Montevideo and the Orphan Film Project. Source: NYU Department of Cinema Studies. Special thanks to the filmmaker.

Black and White Movie (1968-69)
By painter and filmmaker Robert Huot. "A nude woman is revealed, and then obliterates herself entirely, in extreme slow-motion. This film is 'about' painting. Outside of painting itself, it is the only really intense criticism I have ever seen." - Hollis Frampton. Source: Canyon Cinema.

Sunday (1961)
A 50th anniversary screening of Dan Drasin’s stunning document of a police crackdown on a peaceful demonstration of amateur folk singers in Washington Square Park, Sunday, April 9, 1961. Drasin was still a teenager when he made this early verité work. Every frame he shot that day appears in the film, along with a few shots taken by friends. Preserved by UCLA Film & Television Archive for the Orphan Film Symposium, with funds from The Film Foundation. Introduced by Dan Drasin.

Daydream Therapy (1980)

Student film by Bernard Nicolas set to Nina Simone’s haunting rendition of “Pirate Jenny.” The film is one of the rediscoveries of the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s “L.A. Rebellion” preservation and exhibition project, which explores this key artistic movement of Los Angeles-based Black filmmakers working at and around UCLA in the 1970s and 80s. Presented by Allyson Nadia Field (UCLA Cinema and Media Studies).

Three Super 8 films by Andrea Callard
Introduced by Bill Brand (BB Optics). Source: NYU Fales Library & Special Collections.
Andrea Callard works in diverse media -- drawing, photography, audio, video, painting, and collage. Based in New York since 1973, she was the Secretary of the artist group Collaborative Projects, Inc., popularly known as Colab. From 1975 to 1979 Callard made Super 8 films, as did other downtown artists during the “No Wave Cinema” movement that Colab spurred.

11 thru 12 (1977)
In this most untypical, and until recently unrecognized “No Wave” masterpiece, Andrea Callard uses the structure of the I Ching to explore the absurdity of explanation and the limits of the measuring mind.

Lost Shoe Blues (1976)
West of the recently completed World Trade Center, the yet-to-be developed Battery Park City landfill had emerged as an undeclared natural preserve. Andrea Callard found unexpected riches of clover that she surveys with her Super 8 camera. Her vocal rendition of “Lost Shoe Blues” adds to the ironic discovery a complex sentiment of regret.

Flora Funera (for Battery Park City) (1976)
Another natural discovery from the Battery Park landfill, this film features synchronized audio of stones being tossed against the reinforcement bars of a retaining wall to create musical notes.

Ron and Chuck in Disneyland Discovery (1969)
Boy meets boy on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom in this audacious queer courtship narrative covertly filmed in Disneyland, guerilla-style, by pioneer filmmaker Pat Rocco. Equal parts love story, travelogue, and pointed activist statement. From the Outfest Legacy Collection, UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Oddball Film + Video finale
San Franciscan entrepreneurial archivist Stephen Parr assembles one of his signature mind-bending ironical short programs of film + video surprises.


Celebrating Orphan Films:
Screenings & Discussions

presented by

May 8, 2011

David Bordwell on orphan films, a movement, a cult movie

The generous and esteemed scholar David Bordwell keeps a blog. A rich one. Today he gives a kind shout-out to the Orphan Film movement. And Madison News Reel has been recognized for the cult film it deserves to be.

If you’re in Los Angeles this week, why not visit the celebration of Orphan Films playing at UCLA 13 and 14 May? While I was in New York in February, I met NYU’s Dan Streible, moving spirit of the Orphan Films movement. Dan and his colleagues work with archives, collectors, and filmmakers to save films that fall through the cracks, digging up everything from home movies to news clips and experimental cinema. Dan curated a program of orphans at our local festival earlier this spring. At UCLA he will be a guest for screenings and discussions of many orphan titles, including the mysterious Madison Newsreel (Madison, Maine alas, not Wisconsin). Go here for Sean Savage’s discussion of the orphan oddity that has become a cult movie, and here for background on Northeast Historic Film, which found the footage.
“World’s Youngest Acrobat” (Hearst Metrotone/ Fox Movietone 1929). From the DVD Orphans 7: A Film Symposium.

* * * *

Eight-month-old Clyde John Ruhland, hoisted by his father, at home in Buffalo, New York.
MVTN 4-171A  World’s Youngest Acrobat (Nov. 8, 1929)  2 mins.
MVTN 4-171B  World’s Youngest Acrobat, outtakes  5 mins.  
University of South Carolina, Moving Image Research Collection, Fox Movietone News Collection.

May 6, 2011

Celebrating Orphan Films – MAY 13 and 14

Less than ONE WEEK until Celebrating Orphan Films commences at UCLA’s Billy Wilder Theater.

Don’t miss this rare opportunity to see nearly 50 unique orphan film treasures presented by 30 archivists, preservation experts, filmmakers and scholars.

Highlights will include:

FRIDAY, May 13 - The Augustas (1930s-1950s)
This 16-minute, 16mm silent compilation edits together footage taken of no fewer than 36 places called Augusta extant in the U.S. during the years of amateur filmmaker Scott Nixon’s travels in and out of Georgia. Featuring road signs and other markers naming “Augusta,” it celebrates the expressive potential of keyword labels. In this way, Nixon’s film offers a cinematic example of what have become familiar concerns in the context of recent social-networking communities: location awareness, self-documentation, and information retrieval.

Media arts professor Heidi Rae Cooley (University of South Carolina) performs her talk/commentary/travel lecture in synchrony with the moving image projected at 18 frames per second. Visit her very cool multimediated website at and be sure to check out a piece that she curated for in media res, entitled “Placing ‘Augusta’: Index, Tags & Findability.”

SATURDAY, May 14 - Patient 411: A Progress Report (ca. 1965)

A faux case study of a male hustler, produced by the "California Institute of Neuropsychiatry." The film’s onscreen credits for "technical staff" include "J. Morrison," which refers to then UCLA film student Jim Morrison, soon to gain fame as lead singer of The Doors. Morrison was the cinematographer for this film and also provided creative input.

Patient 411: A Progress Report will be presented by the filmmaker, Ronald Raley, who teaches screenwriting at the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.


The final presentation: Oddball Film + Video
San Franciscan entrepreneurial archivist Stephen Parr assembles one of his signature mind-bending ironical short programs of film + video surprises that recontextualize both humorous and creepily serious commercials, home movies, food and science films through the lens of history.