Jan 24, 2017

Spring 2017 Curating Moving Images -- post here

Here's blog space for students in Curating Moving Images to post short but thoughtful thoughts about issues that arise in the course of the course.

-- Dan Streible, instructor of record.

And here's a place holder text and graphic to test that all is working. Below are program notes I wrote for a screening a Mar del Plata International Film Festival this past November.  Since the festival, some of the undistributed films on the list have been made available online.  Here's one from the new site, www.vimeo.com/helenhill.

Madame Winger Makes a Film is now viewable at https://vimeo.com/197137362.

She made the tweet the festival put out.

Program for the Mar del Plata International Film Festival 
Huérfanos del Cine
The Orphan Film Symposium presents “Huérfanos del Cine,” two programs celebrating the rediscovery of rare but revelatory films preserved by archives around the world. “Amateurs and Animateurs” features twelve pieces lovingly created by talented amateur filmmakers across seven decades and four countries. “Nontheatrical Nonfiction” assembles an eclectic variety of restored wonders: newsreels, outtakes, home movies, as well as educational, experimental, and simply uncategorizable films. The term “orphan film” applies to the many thousands of neglected cinema artifacts abandoned by the commercial sector but identified as invaluable by preservationists, researchers, and artists. The Orphan Film Symposium is a biennial gathering of archivists, filmmakers, and scholars devoted to saving, screening, and studying an eclectic variety of neglected moving images. Dan Streible, professor of cinema studies and director of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation master’s program at New York University, organizes the symposium and programs other screenings of orphan films.

Program 1: Amateurs & Animateurs

Madame Winger Makes a Film: A Survival Guide for the 21st Century (Helen Hill, Canada/US, 2001) 10 min., 16mm
Cast: Meredith Pogue (narrator), Helen Bredin, Paul Gailiunas, Trixy Wattenbarger. Sound design: Fausto Caceres.
Source: Harvard Film Archive and NYU Film Study Center
Animator Helen Wingard Hill invented her alter ego Madame Winger to narrate this comic guide to making low-budget and amateur films in Super 8 and 16mm. This lively mock-educational film intermixes cut-out figures, live action, home movies, found footage, flip books, and pixilation. Hill also edited a self-published companion collection of tips and drawings by forty other artists entitled Recipes for Disaster: A Handcrafted Film Cookbooklet.  Preserved by Colorlab for Harvard Film Archive and the Orphan Film Symposium.

[Helen Hill’s Home Movies] (2000-2005) silent, 3 min., 16mm
Source: The Center for Home Movies, U.S. Library of Congress
Living in New Orleans, the filmmaker lost most of her worldly goods when the flood waters that followed Hurricane Katrina in 2005 submerged the house she shared with her husband Paul and their infant son. She salvaged some of her damaged Super 8mm home movies, cleaning the tiny filmstrips by hand. The Center for Home Movies helped her preserve many of the reels in 16mm, rescuing these images of seldom-documented New Orleans communities as they looked before Katrina.

[Francena Feeding the Chickens] (Charles Camp, 1905) silent, b/w, 1 min., digital
Source: U.S. Library of Congress
Perhaps the oldest surviving home movie in the United States, this 35mm fragment shows 13-year-old Frances Bickling at her home in Colorado when visited by her uncle Charles Camp (1860-1929). A cowpuncher and rancher, Camp got his camera in 1904, filmed cattle roundups in Wyoming, and exhibited his motion pictures in Oregon at the Lewis & Clark Centennial Exposition. Francena’s granddaughter Jeanne Burkhardt got the films to the Library of Congress for preservation in 2011.

[Triptych Poem] Unidentified Theisen No. 1 (1926) silent, b/w, 35mm or digital, 4 min.
Filmmakers and cast unknown. Text from “In Youth, Beside the Lonely Sea” (1896) by Thomas Bailey Aldrich.
Source: U.S. Library of Congress [35mm print and MP4 file available]
Photographer Earl Theisen was also a collector of ephemera from early cinema. No one knows who made this triple-wide silent cine-poem or where Theisen got it. Mistakenly first catalogued as “Polyvision Test,” this technically sophisticated creation was made, anonymously, a year before Abel Gance used Polyvision for his triptychs in Napoleon. 

Another Day (Leslie Thatcher, Canada, 1934) silent, b/w, 10 min., digital
Source: Toronto Amateur Movie Club; Archives of Ontario
The Amateur Cinema League named this one of 1934’s “Ten Best” productions. A frequent award-winner, Les Thatcher reveals here how amateur cinema culture was often in dialogue with international art cinema, in this case with a city symphony film of his hometown of Toronto.

Venus and Adonis (J. V. D. Bucher and Harry Dunham, 1935) b/w, 10 min., digital
Cast: Anne Miracle, Victor Kraft, Eric[k] Hawkins. Music: Paul Bowles.
Source: Museum of Modern Art
Unseen for 80 years, this New York amateur production was a playful attempt at surrealism. The cast was part of a circle of artists that included Aaron Copland, Martha Graham, Gertrude Stein, and Man Ray. Its directors went on to significant careers in documentary. A year later Dunham was filming civil wars in China and Spain, then Too Much Johnson (1938) for Orson Welles. In 1935, Bucher began a long globetrotting career shooting films with Julien Bryan.

Color (Lydia García Millán, Uruguay, 1955) 4 min., 16mm
Music: Jazz ensemble of El Hot Club de Montevideo
Source: NYU Film Study Center & Fundación de Arte Contemporáneo
Perhaps the first experimental color film made in Uruguay, Color was the work of a pioneering woman filmmaker, still a teenager.

Rain Dance (Helen Hill, 1990/2007) 4 min., 16mm
Music: Paul Gailiunas, Matthew Butterick. Title song by Paul Gailiunas, lyrics by Elijah Aron.
When Helen Hill’s films were severely damaged by floodwaters, only the image track for her first student film survived. Following her untimely death in 2007, the original musicians re-recorded soundtrack for the restoration done by Bill Brand and NYU students for the Orphan Film Symposium.

Think of Me First as a Person (Dwight Core, Sr., 1961-75) completed by George Ingmire (2008) 8 min., 35mm or digital
Camera: Dwight L. Core, Sr. Sound design: George Ingmire. Music: James Black, George Ingmire, Kyiv Chamber Choir.
Cast: Dwight Core, Jr. Narrated by Dwight Core, Sr.
Source: Center for Home Movies, U.S. Library of Congress, 35mm print or digital
Named to the National Film Registry, this compilation of home movies was preserved by Haghefilm (Amsterdam) and united with its soundtrack for the first time. A loving letter from the filmmaker to his son with Down Syndrome, this amateur film outstrips any professional production on the subject.

Scratch and Crow (Helen Hill, 1995) 4 min., 16mm
Source: Harvard Film Archive and NYU Film Study Center
Made as a student film at the California Institute of the Arts, this vividly colored work of cel animation touches the sublime, a spiritual homage to animals and the human soul. Named to the National Film Registry.  

Na odnoi zemle [On the Same Earth] (Vladimir Medvedev, People’s Film Studio, House of Culture of Professional Technical Schools, Leningrad, USSR, 1976-77) 10 min., digital
Written, directed, shot and edited by Vladimir Medvedev. Script consultant: Boris Goller. Music: Jean-Michel Jarre, “Oxygène.” In Russian with English subtitles by Maria Vinogradova.
Source: Vladimir Medvedev and Maria Vinogradova
In the Soviet Union, a culture of amateur filmmaking (kinosamodeiatelnost) developed within a state-sponsored system of clubs and studios that gave enthusiasts access to equipment. The wide range of films made in this context include this humanistic documentary essay, using film shot while visiting Canada at the time of the 1976 Olympics in Montreal.

EPH 4/27/16  (Ephraim Horowitz, 1979) 26 min., digital
Narrated by Ephraim Horowitz.
Source: NYU Orphan Film Symposium, Fandor, and the Horowitz estate
An avid amateur filmmaker from the 1930s until his death in 2012, Ephraim Horowitz reflects on his life in this sophisticated, wry Super 8 memoir. Named one of the Ten Best amateur films of 1979.

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