Aug 26, 2014

MIAP Directorship

(Memo just went out. I will continue to organize the Orphan Film Symposium, but now wear a new hat.)

* * * * * 

Greetings to all NYU MIAP alumni, students, faculty, instructors, staff, and friends of the show.

I wanted to pass along the official news. In September I will become director of the NYU master's program in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation.

Our team remains in place. Howard Besser and I are switching hats, as he will continue to serve as Associate Director, as will Mona Jimenez. And MVP Alicia Kubes enters her 13th year as Assistant Director, coordinating, well, most everything. The Department of Cinema Studies has also hired Kathy Short as Archive Administrative Aide, working alongside Alicia and Film Study Center Manager & Archivist Ann Harris.

We also have a new department chair, with Professor Antonia Lant succeeding Richard Allen. AND our school has a new dean, with Allyson Green succeeding Mary Schmidt Campbell. Lots of change afoot.

It's a big challenge, directing this extraordinary thing we call MEE-APP. I ask your help in continuing to make MIAP the best program of its kind. In twelve years as director, Howard led the building of a pioneering graduate degree program. We are fortunate that he will continue to teach, strategize, and advocate for us. (Thank you, Howard.)

Professors Bob Sklar and Howard Besser, 2003.
(That's Mona Jimenez, center.)
NYU Tisch School of the Arts welcome for new MIAP director.
We now build the Robert Sklar Memorial Scholarship endowment.

We also know that MIAP has a truly remarkable network of alumni. You're our biggest asset. Even before I joined the MIAP and Cinema Studies faculty in 2006, I was deeply impressed by the students and alumni I had encountered. Now it's down right inspirational to see how you are collectively leading this professional field -- and doing so with a generosity of spirit. You help one another, mentor students, and serve the community in creative ways. Thank you.

With our great team of instructors and another strong cohort of students, we have another banner year ahead. I look forward to working together as MIAP begins a second decade. I'm proud to be associated with this program. 


Dan Streible

* * * * *

Aug 18, 2014

A pleasing mosaic.

Today's Google image search for "What is an orphan film?"

A pleasing mosaic.

Match the name to the face (or body)?

  1. Chris Banuelos (Media Archivist, Time Warner Cable Sports / MIAP class of 2013)
  2. Howard Besser (author of Introduction to Imaging, 1995) 
  3. Joe Bowie (the voice of Ro-Revus)
  4. Monique M. Corzilius ("Peace Little Girl [Daisy], 1964)
  5. Sergei Eisenstein (filmmaker; recipient of the first Stalin Prize, 1941)
  6. Skip Elsheimer (A/V Geeks)
  7. Dr. Paul Gailiunas, MD (singer/songwriter/filmmaker)
  8. Hadi Gharabaghi's PPT slide (2012)
  9. Helen Hill (filmmaker, Scratch and Crow, 1995)
  10. Jodie Mack (Dust Stacks of Mom, 2013)
  11. Rick Prelinger (Associate Professor of Film and Digital Media, UC Santa Cruz)
  12. Elaine Summers people (Making Rainbows, 2009) 
  13. Unidentified person in bear suit in unidentified film (19??)

Aug 16, 2014

"Saving Orphan Films: A South Carolina Symposium" (1999)

The text below is essentially as it appeared in the December 1999 edition of International Documentary magazine, with only a few emendations. The publication doesn't appear in any Web or database searches I've done. The IDA is alive and well, however the International Documentary Association's members-only archive of magazines only goes back to 2001. Hence, I take the liberty of republishing it here and embedding links to transcripts of six of the original talks. 

Recommended citation: Dan Streible, "Saving Orphan Films: A South Carolina Symposium," International Documentary, December 1999, 18-22; updated for Web publication with addendum, Orphan Film Symposium blog, August 16, 2014, 


        The [National Film Preservation] Foundation's primary mission is to save orphan films, films without owners able to pay for their preservation. The films most at-risk are newsreels, silent films, experimental works, films out of copyright protection, significant amateur footage, documentaries, and features made outside the commercial mainstream. Orphan films are the living record of the twentieth century.
-- from Title II of the National Film Preservation Act of 1996

Saving Orphan Films: A South Carolina Symposium
Dan Streible

The ephemeral quality of motion-picture film has received considerable attention in recent years. Few media consumers today have not seen a report on the alarming number of films lost to history because of nitrate decay or on the efforts of restoration experts to save a Hollywood classic whose colors have faded to a shocking pink. With the historical retrospection brought on by the millennium, an audience well beyond the corps of professionals in film preservation has taken interest in the status of the moving image as the documentary record of the twentieth century. Fortunately, this has amounted to more than nostalgic and self-congratulatory listings of the 100 best Hollywood movies ever made. In fact, film preservation has reached a new period of meaningful application, with institutions learning not only how to save moving images but how to give historians, scholars, and filmmakers access to them.

This creative spirit was in evidence during the recent symposium, "Orphans of the Storm: Saving 'Orphan Films' in the Digital Age," hosted by the University of South Carolina. The gathering was unique for two reasons. First, the conference focused on the new governing metaphor in preservation, the so-called "orphan film," meaning that Hollywood features were de-centered for a change. Second, the symposium brought together several overlapping groups, each of whom has a strong interest in cinema as artifact, but who seldom get a chance to converge in an organized way. This was the most exciting and successful part of the orphan film project: witnessing the camaraderie, serendipity, and productive dialogue emerge as archivists, curators, producers, collectors, programmers, conservators, historians, academics, technical experts, librarians, students, museum administrators, writers, documentarians, and experimental filmmakers met for three days of intensive interaction. By all accounts, the alchemy worked. Bound by the common desire to save and use all manner of motion pictures that have been neglected by their parent culture, this eclectic group found a common language with which to talk about orphan films.

To understand how "Orphans of the Storm" happened, one needs a bit of background about the development of film preservation as a profession and project. Points of origin might include two coincidental events from 1938-39: the founding in Paris of FIAF, the International Federation of Film Archives, which remains the central organizing force for major archives; and, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., the appointment of copyright clerk Howard Walls. By 1942, Walls and his colleagues began the salvaging of thousands of rolls of pre-1912 motion pictures that had been printed on paper for copyright deposit. The conversion of these early "paper print" films to 35mm safety stock continues to this day, but their preservation and circulation in 16mm since the 1950s helped spark widespread interest in the earliest generation of cinema. Seen with eyes trained by Hollywood productions, these short fragments from a mostly-forgotten past seem as often mysterious or opaque as they do documentary. No better example of their inspirational qualities can be found than in The Film of Her (1996), a poetic rendering of Walls's rediscovery of the paper rolls. Filmmaker Bill Morrison constructed this beautiful work out of fragments from many films, including some from the Paper Print Collection itself. His presentation of the film at the final "Orphans of the Storm" panel confirmed for many of us how much preservationists, historians, and artists have in common: an appreciation for the cinematic image, both found and constructed; a desire to know the past; a zeal to protect images and the past they represent and document.

This jump cut from the 1930s to the 1990s parallels a leap forward in the preservation world itself. In the last ten years, film preservation has matured as a profession and, in the United States, as a national project. As Gregory Lukow of the UCLA Film and Television Archive pointed out in his address on day one of the symposium, the first federal legislation to deal with film preservation appeared in 1988. Other National Film Preservation Acts followed in 1992 and 96. The first act mandated that the Librarian of Congress create a National Film Registry, identifying works of lasting value that merit special preservation initiative (not that the Congress funded any way to accomplish this). A National Film Preservation Board was created to advise the Library. And, at last, in 1996, the Congress chartered a private-sector Foundation to raise money and coordinate efforts to save endangered films. Within two years, the NFPF became a major agency in the preservation movement. In 1999, it received (from the White House's "Save America's Treasures" project) a million-dollar endowment to preserve silent-era films.

Two other major signs of growth in the nineties were the creation of graduate schools of film preservation and the formation of a professional association. In the past year, both the George Eastman House and UCLA have begun the country's first masters-level programs to train specialists. The 1990 founding of the Association of Moving Image Archivists added what was arguably the most important momentum to preservation activity. AMIA has had almost exponential growth in its membership, bringing together a network of hundreds of video and film professionals.

The orphan film symposium was born at the University of South Carolina -- home to a Newsfilm Library that includes 11 million feet of Fox Movietone newsreel outtakes -- but it was nurtured by AMIA. At the organization's 1998 meeting, key people and institutions excitedly endorsed the idea of a conference devoted to the orphan phenomenon, films without owners or caretakers that are at the highest risk of disappearing. David Francis (who Paolo Cherchi Usai credited with introducing the term orphan film at a 1993 Congressional hearing) leant his support as head of the Library of Congress motion picture division, making it possible for South Carolina to host the Library's National Film Preservation Tour leading into the symposium. Representatives from the National Film Preservation Foundation became natural allies, since saving orphan films is a key part of their mission. Rick Prelinger immediately signed on to screen excerpts from his invaluable archive of "ephemeral films." Finally, a new AMIA group interested in bridging the gap between archivists and academic researchers helped extend the reach of the symposium into scholarly circles. They called for more interaction between the "keepers of the frame" and those who want to study it. They answered their own call. Members of this interest group, Paolo Cherchi Usai of the George Eastman House, Jan-Christopher Horak from Universal Studios, and film historian Eric Schaefer, became featured speakers at "Orphans of the Storm."

So it was that nearly a hundred individuals convened to hear forty experts talk about what can and should be done about orphan films. The symposium commenced with two panels most directly concerned with preservation per se, one addressing the technological frontiers of the issue (digital or traditional analog?), the other tackling a definition of the orphan rubric. "In the beginning," as Paolo Cherchi Usai reminded us in his keynote address, "all the films were orphans." Before the standardization of film distribution around 1908, motion pictures producers "sold their children," never expecting to see them returned to their "parent" company. Rather than debunk the metaphor as a melodramatic fundraising gimmick, Cherchi Usai hyperextended it. Diagramming how a first-generation "mother" negative produces multiple generations of prints, he clearly illustrated how a confusion of film copies gets created and perpetuated. Among the confounding factors, he highlighted the shifting entanglements of copyright law, warning of an impending disaster if the new standards of GATT [the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade] are ever enforced. Films which have been in public domain for years could suddenly be reclaimed by descendants of long-dead filmmakers. The dutiful foster parents (archivists) would be powerless to prevent their orphaned prints from the clutches of their new legal guardians, who would exploit but not care for them. Gregory Lukow followed with an analysis of how the "politics of orphanage" have affected preservation policies. This governing metaphor, he argued, threatens to reinforce the division of labor between public and private institutions, leaving the underfunded public sector with the burden of caring for the entire "orphan library."

As for technological solutions to such big problems, the consensus of opinion was that digital formats are still no substitute for 35mm film. Tom Benjamin, a geologist [!] from Iron Mountain Film and Sound Archives demystified the cold storage process, giving a slide lecture on how films are stored in vast, Strangelove-like bunkers and repurposed mines. Robert Heiber, a leading restoration expert, provided a brilliant demonstration of how technicians must still creatively use both digital and traditional solutions to make the best available restorations and preservation prints. And Karen Lund's demonstration of how the LOC's National Digital Library uses the oldest of paper print motion pictures on its website brought the future and past together. To make the best available digital versions of an Edison film from 1899, for example, one must still have new 35mm prints struck.

The concluding two days of the symposium featured an eclectic mix of panels devoted to the many genres included under the orphan umbrella. We heard from specialists in newsreels, experimental cinema, African American history, silent cinema, exploitation movies, as well as television and video. It became clear as we heard about specific projects to preserve and disseminate neglected films that the line separating those who work to save the physical artifacts from those who work to explore cinema's historical contexts and meanings is impossible to define. The enterprises are finely interwoven. The practitioners understand this and were obviously glad to have the disciplinary borders dissolved.

The emblematic moments from the symposium, therefore, are not best reported with an account of the many superb individual presentations. Rather it was the unexpected interchanges. Robert Haller of Anthology Film Archives, to take just one example, screened Project Apollo (1968), a provocative experimental documentary by the late Ed Emshwiller. Working with the Emshwiller estate, Haller has been able to document the film's uses by its filmmaker, but had been interested to learn more about its existence as a project for the U.S. Information Agency (making it eligible only for overseas distribution until a change in the law in 1990). With National Archives veteran William T. Murphy on hand to respond in promptu to Haller's presentation, the symposium was treated to a new avenue of understanding about the 11,000 films made for the USIA, most of which are available in the federal archive. Far from being only a repository of government propaganda films, the collection also includes works by some of America's most innovative documentarians, who George Stevens Jr. commissioned when he directed the USIA film office.

Ultimately, it was this return to the moving image on the screen that animated the three days and four nights of dialogue. Even after hearing about the physical properties of celluloid and the pragmatics of preservation, one can still believe that film has an aura -- at least when properly re-animated. Rick Prelinger presented an amazing trio of "industrial musicals" and "heartland noir" from his archive of ephemeral films, while Joe Lauro of Historic Films curated an ingenious hour of early sound films that constituted a celebration of American music nearly lost to history. Nico de Klerk of the Netherlands Filmmuseum curated an entertaining collection of theatrical shorts from the 1930s that reminded us of how many genres and films have been neglected because they fall outside of the feature-length format.

The symposium was made complete by the filmmakers who -- like Bill Morrison did in The Film of Her -- take orphaned material and fashion it into new works of art. As is evident in their films, they too are archivists, historians, and preservationists. Carolyn Faber, a full-time archivist at the WPA Film Library, showed Iota (1998), for which she used an optical printer to transform a found home movie fragment into an abstract, impressionist canvas. From the field of documentary, Alan Berliner and Péter Forgács both presented short films which might be dubbed "experimental" and followed them with innovative documentary features which are both personal and historical. Berliner's early shorts, such as City Edition (1980), use his collection of found sounds and images to construct interesting and funny strings of montage. With The Family Album (1986) his work deepened in theme, weaving together anonymous home movies around family rituals of birth, marriage, death, and rebirth. But it was his recent masterpiece, Nobody's Business (1996), with which he ended. The film uses its found footage for comic counterpoint to the touching mix of Berliner's own 8mm home movies and original interviews shot with his father, who resists the documentary project at every turn. The work of Hungarian artist Péter Forgács made a fitting and elegiac conclusion to the symposium. Having established the Private Film and Photo Foundation in Budapest in the 1980s, Forgács has made a lasting contribution to film archiving, social history, and cinema aesthetics. He has amassed an important collection of home movies and amateur films shot in central and eastern Europe from the 1920s through the Cold War era. The "video opera" which ended the program, The Maelstrom (1997), is an hour-long episode from the series of "private" films he continues to produce. Providing enough historical context to make the original home movies legible, Forgács reanimates the footage with creative embellishments: freeze frames, ghostly dissolves, slow motion, and graphics. Ethereal, minimalist soundtracks bring out the ghosts in the images. The effect is both beautiful and devastating. These are the ultimate orphan films -- home movies of a family destined for Nazi death camps.

The orphan film symposium proved a rewarding exploration of the unmined riches that lay beyond [and sometimes in] the Hollywood vaults. The orphan rubric takes in a diversity of films and film experiences that require much further study. Further mutual excavations by archivists, filmmakers, scholars, and others in the preservation community is obviously in order. Toward that end, the University of South Carolina has committed to hosting another such symposium in the spring of 2001.

Dan Streible is assistant professor of film studies at the University of South Carolina and organizer of "Orphans of the Storm." Write to, or visit

Addendum 2014:
The December 1999 magazine's cover featured a version of this handsome photo of Les Blank, with the clever title for the feature story: "The Road Les Traveled."  (His visit to the third Orphan Film Symposium with the phenomenal documentary A Poem Is a Naked Person (1974) remains an indelible part of the symposium's programming history.)

The inside cover included a 35mm frame enlargement from the University of South Carolina Newsfilm Library's Fox Movietone News Collection, MVTN 0-282, Dedication of "Park Row".  Filmed on the Fox lot on January 27, 1928, the footage shows a Hollywood actor (Boris Charsky) impersonating Leon Trotsky -- although it is not all clear upon first viewing that it is a faux Trotsky. (A wee QuickTime excerpt can be seen here, with Tom Mix and an unidentified John Ford preceding the supposed Soviet visitor.) It was a publicity stunt promoting the forthcoming Fox feature The Red Dance, directed by Raoul Walsh and starring Dolores Del Rio as a peasant who has a romance with a grand duke (Charles Farrell) in the midst of the Bolshevik Revolution. 

A decade later the Fox Trotsky graced the cover of the AMIA journal, its Spring 2009 issue devoted to orphan films, with essays derived from the 2008 symposium at NYU. 

I've always been struck by the peculiarity of having a Russian-speaking Trotsky impersonator appear in a Fox newsreel (one of the early synchronous-sound Movietone News items). In that same year, Stalinist politics saw that the Trotsky character was being cut out of Sergei Eisenstein's October. (More specifically, Stalin himself went to Eisenstein's editing room on the day the film was to have a first test screening.) The June 26 New York Times review by Mordaunt Hall, in fact, noted of The Red Dance: "A number of the characters usually dodged in Russian film stories are pictured in this chronicle. There are occasional flashes of Rasputin and Trotzky [sic]." The actor Boris Charsky's character is called only "an agitator" in later screen credits. 

However, Rasputin is Rasputin (Demetrius Alexis). 

This production still appears at
Ivan Linow as Ivan Petroff, the would-be Bolshevik, with Demetrius Alexis as you know who. 

Two thousand nine was also the year that the USC Newsfilm Library rebranded as MIRC -- Moving Image Research Collections. Among the major developments has been the 2012 creation of the MIRC-DVR (clever acronym for its Digital Video Repository). Although Dedication of "Park Row" is not yet online, another curious Trotsky-less Trotsky item is.

Leon Trotsky Expelled from France -- outtakes (April 18, 1932) streams here: 

Leon Trotsky Expelled from France -- outtakes,  
The star of the movie is clearly the German shepherd who greats newsreel photographers and gendarmes.  

The catalog description reads: "Russian revolutionist ordered to leave Foret de Fontainbleau located in Ker Monique villa. Scenes include dogs near the villa gate, a woman bringing a trunk to the gate, police delivering a letter that Barbizon police failed to deliver, and news reporters at the gate."  

But no Trotsky to be seen. Reminiscent of Bill Morrison's 12-minute piece, Release (2010), built out of the Movietone footage listed in the MIRC catalog as MVTN 5-527: "Al" Capone, Underworld Personality. Crowds mill about a Philadelphia penitentiary to catch a glimpse of Scarface. Cameras roll. A door opens. But no Al.

The catalog record for Leon Trotksy Expelled from France also lists Georges Mejat as one of the camera operators. Two years later, he and his brother were covering King Alexander of Yugoslavia's visit to France and actually captured the king's assassination on film.  


Aug 15, 2014

Radiography / bibliography

In preparation for a yet-to-be-announced Orphan Film event in NYC, October 31 - November 1, 2014 (news soon), a PR group asked for examples of past media coverage of the Orphan Film Symposium, and of how mainstream press outlets have used the term "orphan film" in the sense that the symposium uses it. Thus began this compilation, with its emphasis on what is online now.


• “Orphan Film Fest,” Weekend All Things Considered, National Public Radio, broadcast September 28, 2002.
           "Host Howard Berkes talks with Dan Streible, a founder of the Orphan Film Symposium, a group of film buffs who preserve old newsreels, stock footage, home movies, and other items that no one else will care for. The group is holding their third symposium this weekend at the University of South Carolina."  

• “Orphan Films,” IFC Center screening, The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC-FM, February 19, 2008. 

           "Every other year, film archivists from around the world gather to present 'orphan films' -- unusual movies of unknown origins."   

• "Orphan Film Symposium," The Leonard Lopate Show, WNYC-FM, March 31, 2010. Interview by guest host Jonathan Capehart. 


• “Saving Orphan Films,” PBS News Hour, January 15, 2001. 
          "[Sorry, the video for this story has expired, but you can still read the transcript below.]" 
           Reporter Elizabeth Farnsworth begins “They’re called ‘Orphan Films,’ old movies hidden away in archives all around the country.” Scott Simmon, curator of the Treasures from American Film Archives DVD set, discusses excerpts from preserved films of typically orphaned genres: silent, amateur, experimental, government documentaries, and newsreels. 

• “The Movie Savior,” CBS Sunday Morning, February 23, 2005.
          Rita Braver profiles film preservation advocate Roger Mayer. Visiting a film lab, she learns about orphan films.

       Russ Suniewick of Colorlab says there is a whole other class of films that desperately need to be saved: so-called "orphan films."
        “What does that mean, 'orphan film'?" Braver asked him.
      "It's a film that no one wants. It doesn't have the appeal for a commercial audience. These often are the culturally and historically most important films available. Many are at the brink of extinction because of the aging process."
      Case in point: A film called Kannapolis, recently restored at Colorlab. It's one of a series of films from the 1930s and 40s of life in small North Carolina towns, made by itinerant filmmaker H. Lee Waters. . . . The movie (which includes some advanced trick photography) is actually an adopted orphan, restoration work paid for by Duke University.


• “Orphan Films,” Oxford Bibliographies Online: Cinema and Media Studies, ed. Krin Gabbard (Oxford University Press, added October 29, 2013).  
          Lengthy annotated bibliography for scholarly reference. 

• “Orphan Films,” Wikipedia. 
          Note: Paolo Cherchi Usai has said: "Wikipedia calls orphan film 'a motion picture work that has been abandoned by its owner or copyright holder; also, any film that has suffered neglect.' I think it’s a good definition; the second part of the sentence, in particular, has the virtue of recognizing that films can be turned into 'orphans' in more ways than we might expect." From his keynote address at the 2008 symposium, published as "Are All (Analog) Films 'Orphans'? A Pre-digital Appraisal," The Moving Image, 9.1 (Spring 2009). Audio of his talk at

• Paul Cullum, “Orphanistas! Academics and Amateurs Unite to Save the Orphan Film,” L.A. Weekly, April 26, 2001. 

• Daniel Eagan, “Orphan Films: Recapturing Lost Snippets of History,” Smithsonian Magazine, July 2010.  

• Bruce Bennett, “Finding Films a Good Home: A New Series Highlights the Effort to Preserve Lost Treasures,” Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2011.  

• Ian Francis, “Shelter from the Storm: The Orphan Film Symposium 2014,” Sight and Sound, April 26, 2014.

• Julian Ross, “9th Orphan Film Symposium: The Future of Obsolescence,” Desistfilm blog, April 21, 2014.  

PRESS COVERAGE of "The Real Indies" at the Academy in Los Angeles, 2013.

• Mark Olsen, “’The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films' Takes in Strays,” Los Angeles Times, May 8, 2013. 

• John Bailey, “Orphan Films at the Dunn,” John’s Bailiwick, American Society of Cinematographers blog, December 2, 2013.  

• MissDupont, "The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films,", May 12, 2013.   

• Cornelia Emerson, "Introducing Orphans," Society of California Archivists Newsletter, 147 (Summer 2013).  

PRESS COVERAGE of "Celebrating Orphans Films," UCLA, 2011.

• Michael Atkinson, "Orphan Ante: Ephemera and Freak Films at Filmforum and UCLA," L.A. Weekly, May 12, 2011.  

• Jim Gilbert, “Celebrating Orphan Films: Bringing the Obscure to Light,” Curating Los Angeles, blog, May 12, 2011.  

• Brittany Taylor, “Billy Wilder Symposium to Showcase Orphan Films; Films without Owners or Outside Commercial Mainstream Allow Glimpse into Past,” Daily Bruin, May 11, 2011.   


• Orphan Ist. (2006) 3:34.
• Orphans Ist. aka Orphan Film Ist, Longer version, 5:22.

Lauren Heath (director), Mike Johns (editor), Erin Curtis (videographer). Zippy snippets from 28 symposiasts asked "what is an orphan film?" Shot and cut during the 5th Orphan Film Symposium, University of South Carolina.   

• filmmakers Gustav Deutsch (Film ist.), Craig Baldwin, Helen Hill, George Stoney, Bill Morrison
frames of Deutsch, Hill, Baldwin, and Stoney
• Rick Prelinger & Howard Besser (NYU)• Jan-Christopher Horak (UCLA Film and Television Archive)
• Nico de Klerk (Netherlands Film Museum)• Snowden Becker (Center for Home Movies)• Scott MacDonald (Hamilton College)• Mark Miller (Colorado College)
• Tom Streible (IATSE Local 33, Los Angeles) Irene Gustafson (UC Santa Cruz) & Julia Zay (Evergreen State U)• Louisa Trott & Bradley Reeves (Tennessee Archive of Moving Image and Sound)

frames of Burch & Sefick; Prelinger & Besser;
Jones & Major; Reeves & Trott
• and from USC: David Burch & Matt Sefick; Woody Jones & Laura Major; Craig Kridel, Steve Marsh, Laura Kissel, Karl Gerth, Kevin Greene, Kathy Mancuso, Dan Streible.

Mike Mashon (Library of Congress, Head of the Moving Image Section) interviewed in 2010.
          1 of 25 interviews online from the 7th Orphan Film Symposium


• Anton Withagen (self-described on his now defunct Vimeo site as "Dutch amateurfilmer and home-video enthusiast") mashed up some Orphan Film Symposium materials (and other stuff) to make Process & Progress (2013, 3:54).

          The title alludes to two things: Rick Prelinger's soundbite from the Orphans Ist. outtake found in the Wikipedia entry on orphan films ("films as process rather than stories") and Russell Sheaffer and Jim Bittl's clever trailer, Progress, Indeed (2010), produced for the 7th Orphan Film Symposium. Indeed, Progress, Indeed itself takes its title from the phrase uttered by no less than John Wayne, seen and heard in a promotional film within the trailer (". . . but as progress would have it, today's movies come out looking like this [cut to animations by Helen Hill and Danielle Ash]. . . . Yes, indeed, there's been progress."). 

Aug 5, 2014

Orphans X ||: Sound (2016) Days on Mount Pony; nights on Main Street.

Orphans X  ||:  Sound

NYU convenes the
10th Orphan Film Symposium 
at the
Library of Congress
Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation

and the State Theatre
Culpeper, Virginia
April 6-9, 2016

The theme: sound. Orphans 10 will concentrate on the sonic dimensions of all manner of neglected film and video material, as well as image-less recorded sound works. Music (as always) is of special interest, but also all other sounds: voice, effects, noise, mixes, tracks, scratches -- and silence. Listening to orphan films will involve a wide spectrum of voices, including theorists, historians, archivists, technical experts, preservationists, librarians, media artists, musicians, accompanists, deejays, producers, distributors, curators, collectors, composers, cloud managers, creative repurposers, copyright mavens, critics, researchers, teachers, students, and media scholars. 

A formal call for presentations will be issued in 2015. Meanwhile, save the dates. Orphans 10 will feature the symposium's characteristic (and catered) combination of screenings, talks, and performances. Dozens of speakers will present rare, revived, and restored audiovisual material during the 4 nights and 3 days.

Daytime sessions in the Library's Packard Campus Theater (viz.):

Evening screenings at the renovated State Theatre of Culpeper, a 1938 vaudeville and movie house, re-opened in 2013 as a nonprofit facility for film and performing arts (viz.): 

*     *     *     *     * 

The Orphan Film Symposium will be one of many beneficiaries of the partnership among the Town of Culpeper, the State Theatre, and the Library of Congress National Audio-Visual Conservation Center -- epitomized by this public art project, Reel LOVE. Local artist Roque Castro built the sculpture in 2012 using metal 35mm film reels recycled from discarded LOC matériel.

First sight of Culpeper upon stepping out of the CLP train depot.


The content of Orphans 10 will be drawn from collections and objects from around the world. Naturally, however, with the unique opportunity to convene at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, the symposium affords an opportunity to learn about all that the LOC Division of Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound does. In addition to the Moving Image Section of MBRS, the symposium's theme calls our attention to the Recorded Sound Collection.  An introduction to these millions of recordings is online at the Library's website SONIC -- Sound Online Inventory and Catalog.

The confluence of film, video, digital, and audio media is also evident in the recently launched NAVCC blog, "Now See Hear!"

*        *      *     *     *

The 2016 Orphan Film Symposium is a production of New York University Tisch School of the Arts / Department of Cinema Studies and the master's program in Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP).

Aug 1, 2014

First tape digitized: APEX Ghama "Ewe Songs and Rites" (1960)

Congratulations Nat Kpogo, Chris Lacinak, and Seth Paris for your first successful transfer! 

The tape transferred was AWG-E-25, Ewe Songs and Rites, Totoeme, Gbelehawo, Puberty Rites, 1960.

(a Mona Jimenez-led project, six years running)

And a big thanks to Ekow Arthur-Entsiwah, Principal IT Assistant, for setting up our listening station! We are all grateful for his generosity – he brought the monitor from his own work station and swapped it out for an older one.