Dec 18, 2013

about the 2013 National Film Registry, and orphan films

Among the lesser known or neglected (i.e., orphan-ish) titles add today to the National Film Registry are these. The blurbs are (mostly) from the Library of Congress's news release ( I've add some Orphan Film Symposium notes.

Decasia (2002)
Bill Morrison created his "found footage" collage from scraps of decades-old decomposing film. With music by composer Michael Gordon, "Decasia" hypnotizes and teases with images that fade and transform themselves right before the viewer’s eyes. Culling footage from archives across the country…. [principally at U of So. Car.]    
* Screened at the 2002 Orphan Film Symposium. And the subject of a few blog posts here one year ago.

Men and Dust (1940)
Produced and directed by Lee Dick—a woman pioneer in the field of documentary filmmaking—and written and shot by her husband Sheldon, this labor advocacy film is about diseases plaguing miners in Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma. Sponsored by the Tri-State Survey Committee, "Men and Dust" is a stylistically innovative documentary and a valuable ecological record of landscapes radically transformed by extractive industry.
* Screened during the 2012 NYU Orphan Film Symposium at the Museum of the Moving Image, as presented by Dan Friedlaender and Adrianne Finelli.  This was also part of a session called "Progressive Education and Labor Advocacy: A Lee Dick Retrospective," in which we also screened School: A Film About Progressive Education (1939) with introductions by Craig Kridel, Ivan von Sauer, and original School cast member Eugene Perl.  
The whole of the Men and Dust can viewed and downloaded here:    +Audio of the talks by all of the above are on the Orphans site too. 

Cicero March (1966) 
During the summer of 1966, the Chicago Freedom Movement, led by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., targeted Chicago in a drive to end de facto segregation in northern cities and ensure better housing, education and job opportunities for African Americans. After violent rioting and a month of demonstrations, the city reached an agreement with King, in part to avoid a threatened march for open housing in the neighboring all-white town of Cicero, Ill., the scene of a riot 15 years earlier when a black couple tried to move into an apartment there. King called off further demonstrations, but other activists marched in Cicero on Sept. 4, an event preserved on film in this eight-minute, cinema-verité piece. Using lightweight, handheld equipment, the Chicago-based Film Group, Inc. filmmakers situated themselves in the midst of confrontations and captured for posterity the viciousness of northern reactions to civil-rights reforms.
*The soundtrack from Cicero March was part of Andy Uhrich's presentation at Orphans Midwest ("The Film Group of Chicago: Advertising Films and Verité Documentary of the 1960s and 70s"). Kudos too to Chicago Film Archives, which houses the Film Group Collection

Bless Their Little Hearts (1984)  
Billy Woodberry's UCLA thesis film. Part of the vibrant New Wave of independent African-American filmmakers to emerge in the 1970s and 1980s, Woodberry became a key figure in the movement known as the L.A. Rebellion

UCLA Film & Television Archive notes: "Restored from the original 16mm b/w negative A/B rolls and the original 16mm optical soundtrack."

Brandy in the Wilderness (1969)
This introspective "contrived diary" film features vignettes from the relationship of a real-life couple, in this case the director Stanton Kaye (as Simon Weiss) and his girlfriend [Michaux French as Brandy]. Reminiscent of Jim McBride’s "David Holzman’s Diary"—this simulated autobiography blurs the lines between reality and illusion, moving in non-linear arcs through the ever-evolving and unpredictable interactions.

Daughter of Dawn (1920)
A fascinating example of the daringly unexpected topics and scope showcased by the best regional, independent filmmaking during the silent era, "Daughterof Dawn" features an all-Native-American cast of Comanches and Kiowas [including a son and daughter of famed Comanche chief Quanah Parker (son of Cynthia Ann Parker, upon whose captivity experience that little Registry film called The Searchers (John Ford, 1956) was based]. Restored by the Oklahoma Historical Society. NFPF grant. To be released by Milestone Films. Clips here and elswhere

The Hole (1962)
   (viewable here)
Animators John and Faith Hubley created "an observation," as the opening title credits put it, a meditation on the possibility of an accidental nuclear catastrophe. 

Notes on the Port of St. Francis (1951)
  (viewable here)
Frank Stauffacher introduced the Art in Cinema series at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1947 and made work influencing a generation of West Coast filmmakers.   
[NFPF Avant-Garde Masters grant. Preserved by Pacific Film Archives.]

The Lunch Date (1989)  (viewable here)
Adam Davidson's Columbia University student film.

Martha Graham Early Dance Films (1931-1944)
"Heretic," 1931; "Frontier," 1936; "Lamentation," 1943; "Appalachian Spring," 1944.
Frontier was filmed by storied documentarian Julien Bryan [whose film Siege (1940) is on the Registry] and Jules Bucher. 

Planetbenjamin's YouTube upload says:  
Filmed in 1943 at Bennington College by Russian-born sculptor Simon Moselsio. His wife [Herta, by name. -- ed.], who took still photos of the same piece, explained "We used two movie cameras for the motion picture, so we could take the picture from different angles.... I had the still camera around my neck and made the stills at the same time."
The Library of Congress notes for its Herta Moselsio Collection of 11" x 14" photos also indicate Herta shot motion-picture film. At various places official and otherwise Lamentation photos and movie footage are identified as taken in 1935, 1937, 1939, and 1943. Everyone seems to agree, however, that Graham first performed the piece in 1930.  

Herta Moselsio
"Lamentation,"ca. summer 1937
Silver gelatin prints
Music Division 
Purchase, 2001 (233.2, 234.2)

Dec 5, 2013

Amsterdam hotels for the March 30-April 2 symposium.

Discount rates end February 27.

For attendees of the Orphan Film Symposium who seek a hotel in Amsterdam, here is a list.

Commissioned by EYE, Preferred Hotel Reservations has created blocks of rooms at discounted rates at several hotels close to the Symposium's venue.

The 9th Orphan Film Symposium

Date of the event: 30 March 2014 - 2 April 2014

@ EYE Film Institute Netherlands,  IJpromenade 1  

Dec 3, 2013

John Bailey's report on "Orphan Films at the Dunn" and PORTRAIT OF JASON

The great cinematographer and director John Bailey is also active in film preservation issues, serving on the National Film Preservation Board, where he and the also-great Caleb Deschanel (also a supporter of orphan film concerns) represent the American Society of Cinematographers.

I was pleased that Bailey attended the Orphan Film Symposium event that AMPAS hosted May 10-11, 2013, at the Academy Film Archive's Linwood Dunn Theater in Hollywood. We had a short but engaged conversation on the second day, most which was about the revelatory experience of watching the Academy and Milestone's restoration of the 1967 Shirley Clarke film Portrait of Jason.

Today's edition of "John's Bailiwick" blog, entitled "Orphan Films at the Dunn," is his report on that event.  Recommended reading!