September 12, 2014

available Anne Robertson titles

 

Hello.  I’ll bet you’ve been wondering which Anne Charlotte Robertson films are available for loan.  Here is the list!

shorts:
Subways (1976) – 13 min.
Going to Work (1981) – 7 min.
Locomotion (1981) – 7 min.
Magazine Mouth (1983) – 7 min.
Depression Focus Please (1984) – 4 min.
Talking to Myself (1985) – 3 min.
Kafka Kamera (1985) – 3 min.
Apologies (1986) – 17 min.
My Cat, My Garden, 9/11 (2001) – 6 min.

FIVE YEAR DIARY (approx. 27 min per reel):
Reel 1 The Beginning – Thanksgiving, Nov. 3 – Dec. 13, 1981
Reel 2 Definitions of Fat and Thin, Dec. 13 – 22, 1981
Reel 9 April Fool / Happy Birthday 33, 1982
Reel 22 A Short Affair (and) Going Crazy, Aug. 23 – Sept. 1, 1982 – 27 min.
Reel 23 A Breakdown and After the Mental Hospital, Sept. 1 – Dec. 13, 1982 – 26 min.
Reel 31 Niagara Falls, Aug. 19 – 28, 1983 – 25 min.
Reel 80 Emily Died, 1994 – 27 min.
Reel 81 Mourning Emily, 1995 – 25 min.

Please contact our Loan Officer for more information.  Titles are available digitally or on tape.

Maybe we will make a box set available at some point.  If this is something you would be interested in purchasing, please let us know in the comments so we may gauge interest.

Work, meanwhile, on the collection soldiers on.  We have many more DIARY episodes to digitize and show.  Work on the collection continues.  Stay tuned…

Here is our working list of the FIVE YEAR DIARY reels, titles by ACR:
Five Year Diary – reel 1: The beginning – Thanksgiving
Five Year Diary – reel 2: Definitions of fat and thin
Five Year Diary – reel 3: Christmas and New Year ‘82
Five Year Diary – reel 4: My Father Died
Five Year Diary – reel 5: Mourning
Five Year Diary – reel 6: The Lights of the Bardo
Five Year Diary – reel 7: Home Alone
Five Year Diary – reel 8: Leaving My Father’s Office
Five Year Diary – reel 9: April fool / Happy Birthday 33
Five Year Diary – reel 10: Easter
Five Year Diary – reel 11: Data Entry
Five Year Diary – reel 12: Reunion
Five Year Diary – reel 13: Visiting North Carolina
Five Year Diary – reel 14: North Carolina & More Data Entry
Five Year Diary – reel 15: Even More Data Entry
Five Year Diary – reel 16: Soon to be Unemployed
Five Year Diary – reel 17: End of the Job
Five Year Diary – reel 18: Raspberry Season
Five Year Diary – reel 19: Heat of Summer
Five Year Diary – reel 20: Blackberry Season
Five Year Diary – reel 21: Still Berrypicking
Five Year Diary – reel 22: A short affair (and) going crazy
Five Year Diary – reel 23: A breakdown (and) after the mental hospital
Five Year Diary – reel 24: Christmas & New Year ‘83
Five Year Diary – reel 25: Getting Fat Again
Five Year Diary – reel 26: First Semester Grad School
Five Year Diary – reel 27: Visiting North Carolina Again
Five Year Diary – reel 28: Leaving the Apartment and Moving Home
Five Year Diary – reel 29: New York City & the Berry Season
Five Year Diary – reel 30: Visiting Grandmother
Five Year Diary – reel 31 – Niagara Falls
Five Year Diary – reel 32: Losing Weight
Five Year Diary – reel 33: A Crush on Doctor Who
Five Year Diary – reel 34
Five Year Diary – reel 35: Christmas & New Year ‘84
Five Year Diary – reel 36: Another Nervous Breakdown
Five Year Diary – reel 37: After the Mental Hospital Again
Five Year Diary – reel 38
Five Year Diary – reel 39: Yet Another Breakdown
Five Year Diary – reel 40: Visiting My Grandmother, My Insanity, & Wyoming
Five Year Diary – reel 41: California, Home & Wyoming
Five Year Diary – reel 42: Christmas, New Year ‘85 & Gaining Weight
Five Year Diary – reel 43: Breaking Again & Visiting Grandmother
Five Year Diary – reel 44: Last Semester of Grad School
Five Year Diary – reel 45: Christmas, New Year ‘86, Then Employed Again
Five Year Diary – reel 46
Five Year Diary – reel 47: I Thought the Film Would End
Five Year Diary – reel 48: The Fifth Anniversary
Five Year Diary – reel 49: Lunar Phases
Five Year Diary – reel 50: Christmas & New Year ‘87
Five Year Diary – reel 51
Five Year Diary – reel 52: Preparing for a Big Show
Five Year Diary – reel 53: CinnamonAmy Cat Died
Five Year Diary – reel 54: Still Mourning
Five Year Diary – reel 55: Breakdown Wasn’t Filmed
Five Year Diary – reel 56: Christmas, New Year ‘88, Robin Hood
Five Year Diary – reel 57: Employment & Birthday 39
Five Year Diary – reel 58: California Show
Five Year Diary – reel 59: Big Religious / Political Letter
Five Year Diary – reel 60: NYC Peace March
Five Year Diary – reel 61: More Doctor Who
Five Year Diary – reel 62: In a Performance
Five Year Diary – reel 63: Family & Gardens
Five Year Diary – reel 64: Visiting Grandmother
Five Year Diary – reel 65: Big Show in New York
Five Year Diary – reel 66: Hanukah – Christmas & New Year ‘89
Five Year Diary – reel 67: So Much Doctor Who
Five Year Diary – reel 68: Plenty of Doctor Who
Five Year Diary – reel 69: Guess Who & Breakdowns
Five Year Diary – reel 70: Christmas – New Year ‘90 Resolutions
Five Year Diary – reel 71 – On Probation
Five Year Diary – reel 72: Short Takes & Visiting Grandmother
Five Year Diary – reel 73: Off Probation & Tour of New York
Five Year Diary – reel 74
Five Year Diary – reel 75
Five Year Diary – reel 76 – Fall to Spring
Five Year Diary – reel 77
Five Year Diary – reel 78
Five Year Diary – reel 79
Five Year Diary – reel 80 – Emily Died “second edit”
Five Year Diary – reel 81 – Mourning Emily
Five Year Diary – reel 82
Five Year Diary – reel 83
IMG_0028

 

Posted in Anne Robertson, New England, women filmmakers on 12 September 2014 at 3:45 pm by conservator1
August 26, 2014

local camera shop film cans

If you work with small gauge film, you’ve no doubt seen these local camera shop film cans.

The can itself if kind of generic – blue or grey steel.  The name & address  of the photo/film place is stamped on the lid.

These cans are small monuments to a commercial culture that is pretty much dead in this country as of this writing.  Time was, small camera shops and photo processing places were everywhere.  If you had shot some movie film, you could bring it down to your local photo place for processing.  Sometimes they would process the B&W film in-house, and almost always sent the color film out to a larger vendor such as Kodak.  However, most people never considered who was doing the processing, since it was returned to them in a film can with the name of the store stamped on the cover.

Here at the HFA we are taking pictures of these lids and posting them here for your edification on our flickr page.

Some are local, some are not, but all contained Super 8, 8mm, or 16mm film when they arrived at the HFA.

Although our main goal is to preserve film, we like to preserve as much of the surrounding ephemera as possible because it can give us more information about the film, and is often just plain cool in its own right.  Local film lab cans can help us understand more about the film.  For instance, we are currently working on a collection of home movies from all over the country.  They are not always well labeled, and didn’t come to us from the person who shot them (the collector was buying them on ebay, etc.).   Knowing they were processed at Cheskis Photo Center in Philadelphia leads us to believe the filmmaker lived nearby.

I should point out here that not everyone took their film to a local concern.  Many were sent in small mailers directly to Kodak, and returned in Kodak yellow boxes with the address of the filmmaker hand written on the label.

Local film can lids are no longer being made (we assume) although local filmmakers carry on.  These days, just about everybody sends their film out through a website, and the film returns to them in more disposable packaging.  Nowadays packaging doesn’t tell us much about the filmmaker.

UPDATE: We’ve made a flickr group so you can add your own lids.

 

IMG_0085

 

Posted in ephemera, home movies on 26 August 2014 at 1:48 pm by conservator1
August 25, 2014

unidentified artist identified!

Hello!  We are processing a collection that includes a lot of home movies, which is very exciting.  The person who collected these films bought home movies on ebay and other venues, so their point of origin is sometimes unknown.

The home movie in question today seems to have been shot in the vicinity of Keene, NH and points north, ca. 1931.

Do you recognize this sculptress or the bust she is working on?

(edited, 8/26/14 )

I wrote to the Saint-Gaudens national historic site, and they identified the artist.

The woman depicted is Frances Grimes (1869-1963) who was a long-time assistant first to Herbert Adams and then to Augustus Saint-Gaudens. She lived in New York City, but retained housing (usually rented) here in Cornish as well. She was a Trustee of the Saint-Gaudens Memorial founded by Mrs. Saint-Gaudens after her husband’s death in 1907. I believe she is working on one of the Platt daughters. ” ~ Henry J. Duffy, Ph.D.,Museum Curator

 

 

NE home movie sculptress

Posted in home movies, New England, sculpture on 25 August 2014 at 5:01 pm by conservator1
July 15, 2014

Leader Ladies!

Projectionists and lab folk have long loved the ladies (and occasional gentlemen) who appear in most films, but are seldom seen onscreen.  Even when they are, they are only there for a split second, as usually they are printed in 4 frames (24 frames per second).

Nine Lives leader lady

Leader Ladies (more widely known as China Girls), have been used since at least the 1920s in color or density test frames made by labs to assure standardization of print quality.  In the image above, you’ll see the greyscale at the bottom of the frame.  Lab QC uses the greyscale to check the quality of their prints.

Most films used a standardized leader lady, Kodak’s LAD, but as you can see from our pictures and from others posted, there is quite a variety out there.

When I was a projectionist (ca. 1993-2003), my fellow projectionists and I collected these ladies, sometimes only one frame, from 35mm prints we showed.  We planned to make a film of them, but never quite got it together.  (We had never, by the way, heard the term China Girl, and when we did, assumed it was some Asian-lady fetishistic thing, which didn’t really add up considering the few Asian faces in these test frames.)

Back in 2005, the HFA’s former Film Conservators, Julie Buck and Karin Segal, made GIRLS ON FILM, an experimental film utilizing these lovely leader ladies.

You have perhaps seen them in the end credits (skip ahead to 2:25) of Tarentino’s brilliant GRINDHOUSE (leave it to Tarentino to put these faces on the BIG screen!).  After this film came out, we got a phone call from someone in the UK whose mother’s face appeared.  He was pretty thrilled!  There’s also a French film collage online, also using Chick Habit as the soundtrack!

Leader Ladies are all the rage these days among archivists.  Our friends at Northwest Chicago Film Society have been doing the best work with these gals, but others have delved into their world.

My favorites were always these weird 90s ones that look like Thunderbirds mannequins.

We are posting pix of Leader Ladies when we find good ones.  Keep your eyes on our flickr album!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized on 15 July 2014 at 12:41 pm by conservator1
July 3, 2014

Robert Flaherty’s lost Irish Gaelic film found at Harvard

Documentary pioneer Robert Flaherty directed the first film made in the Irish language, Oidhche Sheanchais (“A Night of Storytelling”) in 1935 during the production of his now classic film Man of Aran.

Cited in nearly every history of Irish cinema, this short (11 minute) film has been missing, believed lost, since a fire destroyed the only known copies in 1943. A nitrate print of the film, purchased by the Harvard College Library in 1935 at the request of Harvard’s Department of Celtic Languages and Literatures, was rediscovered by Houghton Library curators during a cataloging update in 2012.

IMG_0563

Oidhche Sheanchais, a fascinating distillation of Flaherty’s belief in cinema as a kind of folkloric art, depicts a typical Irish hearth, where the main cast members of Man of Aran sit, listening to an ancient tale told by famed Seanchaí (storyteller) Seáinín Tom Ó Dioráin. Oidhche Sheanchais is Flaherty’s first work in direct sound and the first “talkie” in Irish Gaelic. It was filmed in the same London studio where the Man of Aran cast had already gathered for the recording of post-synch sound.

OIDCHE SHEANCHAUS fireside scene one frame with perfs

The Harvard Film Archive, in collaboration with Houghton Library, the Celtic department and Harvard’s Office of the Provost, has preserved Oidhche Sheanchais on 35mm film and digital formats.  The film had a short run in Ireland and was never subtitled in English. Harvard has had the film translated and both subtitled and non-subtitled versions will be available.

2 OIDCHE SHEANCHAUS title card one frame

Today (July 3), the new 35mm subtitled print has its premiere at Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna—one of the most prestigious showcases for rediscovered and restored films—with introductions by Harvard Film Archive Director Haden Guest and Irish Film Institute Head of Irish Film Programming Sunniva O’Flynn.

We are grateful for everyone who helped make this exciting project possible, and hope you come see the film when we screen it on the big screen!  The film will be available for loan as 35mm or DCP once it has had its Harvard premiere.  Stay tuned!

OIDCHE SHEANCHAUS boy on floor one frame with perfs

Posted in lost film, rare on 3 July 2014 at 4:42 pm by conservator1
April 25, 2014

Re-discovering Amiri Baraka’s THE NEW-ARK (1968)

As you may recall, a print of an early film by the poet Amiri Baraka was discovered at the Harvard Film Archive back in January.  It had been belived lost for decades.

The HFA worked with Anthology Film Archives to make a 2K scan of the print, and we are pleased to announce the film is now available digitally will be available for loan soon.

THE NEW-ARK, not screened publicly for over 40 years, was shown in Newark this week.  (Read the local news story here and here.) and the new 2K DCP will screen at Anthology Film Archives in New York City on May 16th and May 18th as part of a tribute to Baraka.

The HFA will be showing the movie in the fall.

HOW IS A LOST FILM FOUND?

We’ll be writing more about this soon, but here is the short story of this particular film.  THE NEW-ARK is part of the James E. Hinton Collection at the Harvard Film Archive. The material in the collection has been cataloged, re-housed and sent into cold storage, and a finding aid was created.  I know, I know, “finding aids are boring”  (or so I’ve been told), but they are effective tools for seeing into larger collections.

Despite what you might think, the processing archivist doesn’t get to watch every film that comes through his or her hands.  The film is generally inspected on a rewind bench, identified by printed credits, rehoused into archival containers, and sent into storage.  Unknown titles are sometimes viewed for content identification if there is time and the condition of the material allows.

Two separate independent researchers discovered the Hinton Collection, and were interested in delving into the material.  The HFA benefited from their work, because they were able to give us detailed descriptions of the films they viewed.  Credits for THE NEW-ARK were transcribed, and the director was noted as LeRoi Jones (who later changed his name to Amiri Baraka).

Still, the presence of a sought-after, lost film went unnoticed.

Whitney Strub, of Rutgers University, was researching films made in Newark, NJ, and came across the title in the published work of one of the aforementioned researchers.  He wanted to show it in New Jersey.  He spoke to archivists at the HFA and at Anthology Film Archives about it following Baraka’s death, and together we brought the film out of the dark.  Whitney’s article in Bright Lights Film Journal is linked here, and here is a brief radio interview with him.

This is a fairly typical story of how a lost film can be found in the collection of an archive.  The HFA processed the film as part of  a larger collection, but did not realize its significance.  We put its title out for people on the internet to find via the finding aid, and someone who was looking for it found it.

Our thanks to everyone who helped make this re-discovery possible: Lars Lierow, whose research at the HFA led to an article in Black Camera, “The ‘Black Man’s Vision of the World”cites the existence of the print, to Chuck Jackson who also worked with the Hinton Collection, and especially to Whitney Strub and Andy Lampert (of Anthology Film Archives).

Another of Baraka’s early films BLACK SPRING (1967) remains lost.  If you should come across it, get in touch!  He is, no doubt, credited as LeRoi Jones.

 

 

Posted in African American, James Hinton Collection, lost film, poet, rare on 25 April 2014 at 11:03 am by conservator1
February 7, 2014

clip & save … at the Harvard Film Archive !?

A newspaper coupon we found today, dated 1991:

Sorry folks, it’s expired!

Posted in Uncategorized on 7 February 2014 at 1:28 pm by conservator2
January 14, 2014

The New-Ark by Amiri Baraka

We discovered another rare film in the Harvard Film Archive’s collections this week.

THE NEW-ARK (1968) was written and directed by Leroi Jones AKA Amiri Baraka (1934-2014).  The HFA has a print, possibly unique, in the James Hinton Collection.  Hinton was cinematographer on the film.

THE NEW-ARK is a creative documentary about Black Education, urban public theater, and political consciousness-raising in Newark, NJ, set inside and outside of Spirit House.  Spirit House, also known as Heckalu Community Center, was a Black Nationalist community center in Newark, NJ, under the leadership of poet, playwright, and activist Amiri Baraka (known at the time as LeRoi Jones).  Includes shots of Baraka reading “Poem to Half-White College Students.” There are shots of Spirit House Community Black School including the teaching of the Black Alphabet.   The film contains footage of street theater performances, political rallies, rehearsals, martial arts practice, discussions, dance and musical performances.  (blurb based on a description by Chuck Jackson)

The 1968 Ektachrome print is in decent condition and the HFA plans to partner with Anthology Film Archives to digitize the print and make it available for screenings.

 

Posted in James Hinton Collection, poet, rare on 14 January 2014 at 5:23 pm by conservator1
January 13, 2014

Funny….

Sometimes we just have to laugh at the things that come into the Film Conservation Center.

audio tape

 

note in box of film

We have to laugh because otherwise we might cry.

super 8 film in a bag

 

16mm film in a bag

 

Posted in comedy, super 8 on 13 January 2014 at 5:19 pm by conservator1
December 9, 2013

Collection update: Caroline Leaf

The Caroline Leaf Collection experienced many moments of closure last week. To begin with, it is now processed, encoded, and the finding aid is up online. I really enjoyed working on this collection and becoming so familiar with Caroline Leaf, the innovative Canadian-American animator and filmmaker, and her work. Her animated and live-action films demonstrate a consistent and delicate balance of whimsical artistry underlined with dark themes. And throughout all of her art, there is willingness – nay, resolve – to invent new methods and execute them beautifully, no matter the time commitment. These qualities are well represented in her collection as well, which is full of drawings and test samples that reveal her extensive processes.

Some snapshots of Caroline Leaf during the making of Interview.

 

Serendipitously, Caroline Leaf herself traveled from England to visit the Harvard Film Archive last week in order to approve a new answer print of Sand or Peter and the Wolf. There had been a protracted back-and-forth creating the new print because the coloring wasn’t quite right for a while. Her visit just happened to coincide with the finishing of her finding aid, and I had the exciting opportunity to meet (and lunch with!) her. She even gave some feedback on the finding aid, which is a rare opportunity for both a processing archivist and the person for whom the collection is about.

If you haven’t had the chance to become more familiar with Caroline Leaf’s work, check out the finding aid or watch some of her shorts on the National Film Board of Canada web site.

-Tricia Patterson

Posted in Caroline Leaf Collection, collection update, interns, women filmmakers on 9 December 2013 at 12:39 pm by conservator2