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.").