Jan 13, 2013

FUND [and] the Albanian Cinema Project

Thanks to the Albanian Film Archive and the Albanian Cinema Project, a new piece of preservation is in the works as part of the Orphan Film Project. At this moment, a 16mm print (with a magnetic soundtrack) is in transit from Tirana to New York. Archivist Eriona Vyshka (head of collections and cataloging) has assigned catalog entry KF-16 the title [Albanian dances from northwest and north regions]. (Perhaps the short title among the preservation team will become North by Northwest??) Throughout the spring 2013 NYU semester, Bill Brand and his MIAP graduate students will preserve this six and half minutes of footage as part of the yearly Film Preservation course. 

video frame grab from KF-16 (Courtesy of the Albanian Film Archive)
The work will take place at the BB Optics laboratory in Tribeca, funded by NYU’s Department of Cinema Studies (home of both MIAP and the Orphan Film Symposium). All preservation and access materials -- the original print, a new preservation negative and sound track, a new print, and digital reference copies TBD -- will return to the archive. An access copy will also be deposited with the NYU Film Study Center for research and classroom use. 

Watch the film (without sound). 
Part 4 of 4
Women from the town of Tropoja dance. 

 (Image: sq.wikipedia.org)
The film itself was part of an “ethno-choreography” series created under the guidance of esteemed ethnomusicologist Ramazan Bogdani, professor emeritus at the University of Tirana’s Folklore Institute. If I understand the Wikipedia entry correctly, Bogdani's output includes 221 ethnographic film recordings totaling approximately 60,000 meters (nearly 200,000 feet) of 16mm film, running some 350 hours, described in a 746-page 3-volume catalog.

The intertitles indicate the dancers were filmed in the towns of Shënkoll (district of Lezhe) and Tropojë (near the Kosovo border). Eriona Vyshka translates the sections of the film as: 
  1. Dance of sowing the crops (work rituals) 
  2. Wedding song 
  3. Dance of “Logue” [?] (lyrical, erotic) 
  4. Tropoja women dance (lyrical, epic)
18 December 2012
(Ministry of Defence; www.mod.gov.al)
Born in 1943, Bogdani remains active in publishing his work. In fact, the 100th anniversary of Albanian independence in 2012 saw not only the creation of the Albanian Cinema Project, but official state recognition of Bogdani’s publication of a six-volume series of books on ethno-choreography. Less than a month ago Dr. Bogdani spoke at the federal Centre of Culture, Media and Defence [!] Publications, in cooperation with the Academy of Sciences. His concluding remark about the study of folklore today has resonance with conceptualizing the study of folk dance as recorded on film. Today’s is “the folklore of festivals,” rather than “the traditional folklore of the rhapsode [or rhapsodist, a performer of poetry] by his fireplace in Dukagjin playing the lute, or dancing in a wedding.” One must go to international festivals to see past traditions re-created in performance; or, we might add, watching a film or video recording made in the past. 

For those of us limited to English-language sources, there is at least one book from which to learn: 
Ramazan H. Bogdani, Etnokoreografi kosovare hasjane (Tirana: Globus R, 2005), 323 pages; 150 photographs; English summary of 16 pages. According to Albanian-Folklore.com [yes!] the volume is "complementary to the 1977 publication of Folklori koreografik i Hasit. This book is a further study of the dances of the Has region [Kosovo]. The characteristics are described per village with photographs of the costumes and dances. A further chapter describes the 17 mentioned dances themselves, sometimes using the full description by measure with musical scores...."

Nota bene!

A delightful irony for English-Albanian cross-promotion: 

the final frame of the film. 

Courtesy of the Albanian Film Archive

FUND of course is the Albanian word for "end." But for the purposes of the Albanian Cinema Project and the AQShF, funds are needed to accelerate the preservation of this national film heritage. You can read more about the urgency and cultural value of this effort at the project website. Or write to ACP director Dr. Regina Longo [ regmlongo2 @ gmail  ]. 

For now, simply FUND!

Jan 12, 2013

. . . and more Ritchie Training image repurposing, Orphans 3

. . . and there was also this "Orphans 3" repurposing of the USC Newsfilm image. We had a memorable screening of Decasia in the School of Music Recital Hall. James Bond (Full Aperture Systems) somehow got the big 35mm projector into the small projection booth. He also made sure we got the Dolby correct. Bill Morrison said the presentation that night sounded as good as it ever had. Nice and loud too.