Apr 5, 2016

More than 100 experts from around the world to present rediscovered film and audio: Orphans X

New York University’s Orphan Film Symposium Convenes April 6-9, at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation, in Culpeper, Virginia

More than 100 experts from around the world to present rediscovered film and audio

The biennial Orphan Film Symposium, now in its tenth edition, is an international gathering of archivists, scholars, filmmakers, curators, students, and technical experts devoted to saving, studying, and screening “orphan films” – an eclectic variety of previously neglected works. The tenth symposium – Orphans X – is devoted to the theme of sound, adding radio and other audio recordings to the mix of film, video, and digital media. Some 200 attendees from 18 nations will see and hear works documenting more than a century of history, ranging from newly restored 1913 Edison Kinetophone sound films to new productions, such as the Austrian feature film Dreams Rewired.

Screenings of rare and restored films take place each night, with talks running from 9:30am to 6:00 pm Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Registration is open to the public. www.nyu.edu/orphanfilm

Dan Streible, the symposium’s director and NYU associate professor of cinema studies, programmed the event with Mike Mashon, head of the moving image section at the Library. “We are excited to showcase dozens of rediscovered films, some newly preserved,” says Streible, who also directs NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation master’s program. “Our goal was to feature knowledgeable speakers presenting seldom-seen films and to place those in dialog with the Library of Congress’s unrivaled recorded sound collection as well as its video and film holdings.”

Among the topics covered will be early synchronous sound film technologies, challenges for media preservation in the digital realm, the history of American radio, historic music recordings, music for silent movies, and attempts to recover films with lost soundtracks. New preservation work is a point of emphasis, with recent restorations screening from the Academy Film Archive, Cinematheque Française, EYE Filmmuseum, Deutsches Filminstitut, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, among others.

Highlights include:

  • Media artist Evan Meaney’s Big_Sleep™ (2015), a video about digital preservation and decay.
  • And evening with legendary film restorationist Robert Gitt presenting “) The Sound of Movies, 1933-1972,” highlights from his the Blu-Ray release, A Century of Sound, volume 2.
  • Bill Morrison’s never heard 1992 interviews with the late curators of the Library’s renowned Paper Print Collection of films made before 1915, as well as a presentation of LOC’s newest scanning technologies applied to the paper prints.
  • Jeff Martin’s discovery of an amateur audio recording of an American POW talking over short-wave radio from a Japanese prison camp in 1943.
  • Anke Mebold’s screening of “Tonbilder,” short films made in Germany in 1908, designed to match on-screen singers with previously released disc recordings.
  • A roundtable report from the Radio Preservation Task Force, a new national effort to unite the efforts of scholars and archivists.
  • A rare screening of The Inner World of Aphasia (Edward and Naomi Feil, 1968), a remarkable nurse training film added to the Library’s National Film Registry in 2015.
  • An evening of screenings by filmmaker Sasha Waters Freyer, recipient of the symposium’s Helen Hill Award for independent artists of distinction.

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Since its inception in 1999, the Orphan Film Symposium, under the direction of Dan Streible, associate professor in the Department of Cinema Studies, has become an international summit for those interested in the study, preservation, and exhibition of “orphan films.” Narrowly defined, an orphan film is a motion picture abandoned by its owner, or, more generally all manner of films outside of the commercial mainstream: silent and sponsored films, independent, industrial and avant garde work, home movies, advertisements, and other ephemeral moving images. For more information, including the entire schedule, visit http://www.nyu.edu/orphanfilm.

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