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New Zealand-American Partnership to Save “Lost” American Films

June 8th, 2010 by Juri Stratford

The New Zealand Film Archive and the National Film Preservation Foundation announced a partnership to preserve a collection of 75 American motion pictures that no longer survive in the United States.

The “lost” films will be preserved over the next three years and accessed through the five major American silent film archives: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive, which are collaborating with the NFPF on this project. Copies of the complete films will also be publicly available in New Zealand and viewable on the NFPF Web site

Only a fraction, probably fewer than 20%, of the American films created during the first four decades of the motion picture still survive in the United States. American silent films, however, had a worldwide popularity, and many works discarded in the United States survive abroad as distribution prints that were salvaged decades ago at the end of theatrical runs. The Library of Congress has estimated that roughly one-third of American silent-era features that survive in complete form exist only in archives in other countries.

San Francisco Bay Area Television Archive

June 7th, 2010 by Juri Stratford

Established in 1982, the TV Archive preserves over 4000 hours of newsfilm, documentaries and other programs produced locally in the Bay Area and Northern California between 1939-2005. It is part of SF State Library’s Department of Special Collections.

The archive is currently working on a project funded in part by a U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services Technology Act (LSTA) grant, administered by the California State Library, to digitize, preserve and make available over 100 hours of 16mm film from the collection. The archive is also collaborating with KQED to make another 30 hours of civil rights related material available, as part of the American Archive Pilot Program.

UCLA Preserved Silent Animation

June 7th, 2010 by Juri Stratford

Although best-known for its restoration of feature films, UCLA Film & Television Archive has been preserving animated films for more than three decades, with over one hundred titles to its credit. The short subjects, trailers, and promotional films presented here provide a representative sampling of that work. They have been preserved from best-surviving and sole-surviving 35mm nitrate and 16mm prints, showcasing many forms of animation spanning the entire silent film era.

It has been estimated that eighty- to ninety-percent of all silent films–not just animation, but feature films and other short subjects, as well–have been lost to neglect, mishandling, vault fires, and nitrate decomposition. Given those figures, it’s fortunate that UCLA has as much silent animation as it does.

Some of the films offered up on this website include “Felix the Cat”, the “Inkwell Imps”, and “Aesop’s Film Fables”. Visitors are lucky enough to be able to view online or download 11 animated films from the library’s collection. While watching the films, visitors can listen to the preservation commentary, or listened to the music for each film composed by Michael D. Mortilla, who has played music for silent films for the Silent Society. Visitors can learn more about Michael D. Mortilla by reading the “About the Music” link. There are also film notes and an historical overview that visitors can read for each film. Researchers or interested parties will find a 15-page study guide of films and works about silent films available as a PDF. This helpful document is conveniently located at the bottom of the homepage.