Sep 20, 2019

Climate strikes back.

With the 2020 Orphan Film Symposium being devoted to Water, Climate, and Migration, the Global Climate Strikes on the Fridays of September 20 & 27, 2019 are of course relevant to how we are now conceiving of audiovisual recordings of these phenomena.

The 1929 Fox Movietone News outtakes catalogued as If the Antarctic Icecaps Should Melt?  connect neglect media artifacts to the global moment in a potent and uncanny way. Here's a sample of the 10 minutes.

The University of South Carolina MIRC DVR provides the original Fox librarian's notation:  "'Scientists say gigantic frozen sea at South Pole could flood the world.' Cameraman visualizes what would happen if a tidal wave deluged New York. Statue of Liberty gets her toes wet. Even Times Square is submerged."

More on that footage at a later time -- and in 2020 a screening of full piece at the symposium.

For now we simply want to note the student-led Global Climate Strike.

At NYU Cinema Studies yesterday students, staff, and faculty agreed to participate, with the regular school schedule supplanted by time for the noon march from nearby Foley Square to the rally in Battery Park. The city itself has declared public schools will allow students to strike. And of course our NYC neighbors at the United Nations host the March 27 Climate Action Summit during the U.N. General Assembly, while the latest Dutch Klimaatstaking convenes in The Hague. In Amsterdam the September 20 event meets at Dam Square. The University of Amsterdam has endorsed the work of its Students for Climate as well as the 2018 open letter from scientists calling upon universities to do more to combat "human-caused climate change."

Student-led actions on the issue are not new of course. But the now of 2019 feels different, from mass media coverage of teen activist Greta Thunberg's transatlantic voyage to protests in the street to personal daily experiences with our local climates.

In addition to gathering to discuss issues and actions, we now also face dilemmas about how to gather. International conferences and festivals accustomed to assembling people from distant places are having to rethink participation. We have not solved anything, but recognizing the desire by many to reduce long-distance travel the call for proposals to the 2020 Eye International Conference and NYU Orphan Film Symposium welcomes alternative formats of presentation: "We can consider a limited number of (live) video presentations for those who either don’t fly or who want to fly less." Whether with old-fashioned Skype sessions or new interactive media presentation forms (3D holographic projection?), for better or worse, we are learning technological alternatives to bodily gatherings. When we can meet in person, so much the better.

Meanwhile, we continue our work mindfully (pardon the buzz word) and creatively -- and, we hope, with some pleasure.

Toward that end: Here's another example of the richness of orphan films that allow us to consider how the past informs our present.

From the Eye collection, a piece assigned the title Journaal (1926[?]) an unknown Dutch compilation of international newsreel items, including stories about water, climate, and migration: Snowstorm in Manhattan.  A costumed Native American posing on a city street (attributed with a Dutch dialogue intertitle with a film historical allusion: "Where did my white brother Karl May go?"). Swimmer Hélène Sude [who?] in an aquarium with a seal. Roald Amundsen after his flight above the North Pole. Opening the Sennar Dam on the Blue Nile in Sudan.

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