Feb 28, 2013

A note for Chicago-areas moviegoers that the Music Box Theatre 70mm Festival wraps tonight with PLAYTIME by Jacques Tati, + this piece of direct animation by Danielle Ash & Jodie Mack. Made fot the 2012 Orphan Film Symposium, this will be its second-ever screening.

Camera/phone video taken inside Museum of the Moving Image:

Feb 9, 2013

Melton Barker Foils Film Historiographers and Auteurist Critics

On a very happy note indeed: 

This Sunday's New York Times featured this article on "The Kidnappers Foil" series of movies and their filmmaker Melton Barker. 

Writer Amanda Petrusich presents an exemplary journalistic account of the history and significance of this previously obscure body of motion picture work. (So few journalists get the quotations of their interviewees correct; she does, near as I can tell.)

Congratulations to Caroline Frick (T.A.M.I.) and Dwight Swanson for getting these orphans onto the National Film Registry -- and into the Times. If you've not previously sampled Mr. Barker's oeuvre, please take this opportunity. [See www.meltonbarker.org

And if there were any doubt that orphanista Caroline Jane Frick has long been on a mission to immortalize Ennis Melton Barker, consider that her doctoral dissertation specifically holds up Barker as the orphan filmmaker par excellence.  In "Restoration Nation: Motion Picture Archives and 'American' Film Heritage" (University of Texas at Austin, 2005), 245, she writes about the Orphan Film Symposium. 
So-called “orphanistas” gather and lobby for increased attention and, most importantly, funding for a more organic or “real” American film heritage – ephemeral advertising footage, home movies, medical training films, and more. Albeit, armed with an ironic distance and postmodern sensibilities, participants in the orphans film movement hope to place individuals such as Melton Barker, an itinerant Texas filmmaker, next to (or at least, on the same list as) Howard Hawks – and the arbiters of national heritage are doing just that.  [Emphasis not in the original.]
Barker ca. 1930s (Frick Collection)

For more about the man, including this rare photograph, see the article by our now-proven arbiter of national heritage, author of Saving Cinema: The Politics of Preservation (Oxford, 2011), founder of the Texas Archive of the Moving Image, assistant professor of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas, Austin, at-large alternate appointee to the National Film Preservation Board, former Curator of Motion Pictures at the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, and president of the Association of Moving Image Archivists (whew):

Caroline Frick, "Jack Rabbit Genius: Melton Barker, Itinerant Films, and Creating Locality," The Moving Image 10.1 (Spring 2010): 1-22.

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(photo courtesy of Jim Ponder)

And, begging your pardon for this personal dog-loving indulgence, we note that one of the photos of Mr. Barker the Times used includes the nearly-forgotten auteur with his pixelated pup.