Apr 27, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday, amateur filmmaker Ephraim Horowitz!

Today, April 27, marks the centennial of the birth of a prolific and talented amateur filmmaker, Ephraim Horowitz of Flushing, New York. He passed in 2012, age 96.

A frame from EPH 4/27/16, Horowtiz (on screen) made this memoir movie in 1979.
The video made from Fandor and Colorlab's new 2K scan of the Super 8 film launched today. 

Today, thanks to Genevieve Havemeyer-King, is also happily the launch of 7 of Eph Horowitz's Super 8 films on Fandor.com, the site devoted to independent cinema in all its flavors. More films by other makers will soon follow on Fandor from the Orphan Film Symposium's Amateur Cinema Project. The project was the brainchild of alumni of the NYU Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program, Walter Forsberg, Kimberly Tarr, Kathleen Maguire, and Jonah Volk. Later fellow alums Kathryn Gronsbell and Dan Erdman did some research on the films of Robbins Barstow (who donated 4 of his films from the 1940s to NYU Libraries) and Ephraim Horowitz. Then cinema studies MA student Marissa Hicks-Alcaraz took up the baton and helped us organize the eventful "Orphans at MoMA" 2014 screening (which you can read about here).

We were interested in tracking down any films that might survive from the Amateur Cinema League's annual Ten Best list, which began in 1930. Kim Tarr who brought the Horowitz material to our attention. Then in 2015, Genevieve located Horowitz's son Dan and together they got

We knew the filmmaker's name from the Ten Best lists of 1979 and 1980 (when Eph would've been 64 years of age).

From Alan D. Kattelle, “The Amateur Cinema League and Its Films,” Film History 15.2 (2003): 238-51, including “The 'Ten Best' Winners, 1930-1994 from the Amateur Cinema League and American International Film & Video Festival."
There he was alongside the now legendary amateur filmmaker Sid Laverents, who lived past his 100th birthday, dying in 2009, best known for his ingenious Multiple SIDosis (1970). The amateur resurgence must be in the air now. Turner Classic Movies is broadcasting his four-part opus The Sid Saga (1985-2003) in less than a month (May 21).

The great historian-revivalist-curator of the California amateur film culture, Melinda Stone, first brought my attention to Sid's work at the second Orphan Film Symposium in 2001. UCLA Film and Television Archive (now celebrating its 50th!) has since done preservation and exquisite restoration work on the Laverents films.

Because so very few of the hundreds of films on the ACL Ten Best list survive, it's noteworthy when any of them are rediscovered. To find a couple of suitcases full of one these filmmakers is worth celebrating.

I'm happy that Jonathan Marlow and Fandor wanted to showcase these films. We thank the Horowitz family for sharing -- and Colorlab for making these handsome 2K scans of the Super 8 prints. They have made it all happen exactly on the centennial birthday.

Also, join us for a free public screening of films by Horowitz and Barstow on May 4, 2016, at 6:15 pm. Place: NYU Cinema Studies, Michelson Theater (6th floor), 721 Broadway, NYC.