December 17, 2014

Christmas programs this weekend

This weekend the Harvard Film Archive brings some winter revelry to the screen with Another Kuchar Christmas and the Annual Vintage Holiday Show.



‘Tis the season for festive video offerings! Join us for four short films from prolific artist George Kuchar (1942-2011) on Saturday December 20 at 7pm. Come share in Kuchar’s feasts of the senses with his singular take on the rituals and feelings brought to the fore at Christmas.

VINTAGE HOLIDAY SHOW – Sunday afternoon – free admission!

Every December, we scour the Harvard Film Archive’s collection for winter-holiday-themed films and present them for free the weekend before Christmas.  Like everything else at this time of year, it tends to be very Christmas-oriented, but we are not trying to push religion on you.  In fact, yours truly, the curator of this screening, is an atheist.  Nevertheless, I enjoy a Christmas movie as much as the next atheist, and a lot of them were made over the years!

The program is always free, appropriate for all ages, and a lot of fun!  Since this is a shorts program, you are welcome to stay as long as you like, and we don’t even mind if you bring a baby along.

This year’s lineup includes some animated shorts, a locally-produced film about Christmastime window-shopping, which depicts some nice Downtown Crossing window displays, and a “meaning of Christmas” TV special starring a young Seth Green.

We hope to see you Sunday the 21st at 3pm!

Click here for a link to the program.

figgy duff

Posted in children's films, HFA events on 17 December 2014 at 11:28 am by conservator1
December 2, 2014

HFA poster Tuesdays

For your enjoyment: a poster from the HFA collection will be featured the first Tuesday of each month.


Pirosmani (1969)

Pirosmani, 1969 (dir. Giorgi Shengelaia)

Posted in poster on 2 December 2014 at 5:46 pm by conservator3
November 25, 2014

Vintage equipment

A few stars from the Harvard Film Archive Conservation Center’s stable of vintage and small gauge equipment:


Vintage speaker

Vintage speaker


Paillard Bolex projector

Paillard Bolex projector


Picnic projector

Paillard Bolex projector with “picnic” case


Technicolor projector, as seen in Brian De Palma’s Hi, Mom.

Posted in ephemera on 25 November 2014 at 5:54 pm by conservator3
November 18, 2014

The value of educational shorts: artifacts of the age


Technicolor ad from 1967 Business Screen Magazine courtesy of the Media History Digital Library

We are currently working on a collection which includes many educational and classroom shorts. These films came from a collector, who is said to have watched one film, on film, every day (a collector after our own hearts.) Although often treated as humorous in today’s social context, short educational films from the mid-century and beyond hold great cultural value in what they reveal about shifting American social values and cultural norms.
Major distributors for educational films recently found in this collection include Coronet Films, known for their personal guidance shorts, which instructed youth on social practices. Coronet shorts from the Beginning Responsibility series encountered in this collection reveal the push for balance through behavior modification in post WWII America.


Courtesy A/V Geeks and…


Titles from Encyclopædia Britannica Educational Corporation and Journal Films in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s reveal the growing values of science, technology and innovation in the classroom environment: Osmosis and Diffusion, Cavitation and Orbital Shapes and Paths.

The late 1960’s and 1970’s introduce a more relaxed viewpoint on behavior and social roles with films such as Naturally…a Girl (Association-Sterling Films) and Every Family is Special (Encyclopædia Britannica Educational Corporation.)
Some of the most interesting (read: quirky) educational films in this collection come from the Moody Institute of Science. Part of the Moody Bible Institute, the Moody Institute of Science was founded in San Francisco by Irwin A. Moon (Dr. Moon) in 1938 to forward the Moody Institute’s evangelical message. The films, introduced as “A Sermon from Science,” present scientific concepts with a didactic Creationist spin. The films, which often starred Moon as a narrator or participant in experiments, range in titles from subtle (Blind as a Bat) to over the top (God of the Atom.)


Courtesy of…



Posted in educational films on 18 November 2014 at 5:39 pm by conservator3
October 31, 2014

Halloween with Castle Films

An afternoon selection of Castle Films: the perfect precursor to a Halloween movie marathon weekend. Intended for home-viewing, these one-reel, condensed versions of creature features would bring all the shock and horror highlights of a theatrical film to the living room screen.

Pictured below are some of the gems selected by our film conservation team.

Happy Halloween!


Several covers of Halloween-themed Castle Films, arranged in a mosaic boxes

Posted in super 8, Uncategorized on 31 October 2014 at 4:40 pm by conservator3
October 15, 2014

Home Movie Day 2014

Greetings, home movie makers and fans! We hope you will join us for our yearly screening of your home movies this Saturday, October 18.

What *is* Home Movie Day?

Home Movie Day is a celebration of amateur films and filmmaking held annually at venues worldwide. Home Movie Day events provide the opportunity for individuals and families to see and share their home movies with an audience of their community, and to see their neighbor’s in turn.

For well over a decade, film lovers, film archivists and the general public have been convening in small spaces in the Boston area and all over the globe, gathering around flickering images of times of yore. Grandparents and babies, now since gone or grown, smile and wave to the camera as we watch them through the magical time machine of cinema.

Exotic and domestic vacations!

Parties, birthday and otherwise!

Amateur theatricals!

There is always something interesting and funny to watch, and we hope you will join us for this year’s event. The Boston area 12th annual Home Movie Day will be held at the Harvard Film Archive on Saturday, October 18, 2014.

11am film check-in noon,  3pm screening

Early film drop off encouraged, at the HFA offices in the lower level of the Carpenter Center, Harvard University.

Formats accepted: 8mm, super 8, 16mm, VHS, DVD, digital files (playable via laptop).  Video and digital versions have a 5 minute limit.  Please cue your tapes if possible.

Films will be inspected for damage prior to projection, so please drop them off as early as possible.

More information is available here:

Here is our facebook event page.

We hope to see you and your movies this weekend!


NE home movie sculptress

Posted in home movies on 15 October 2014 at 9:20 pm by conservator1
September 24, 2014

Anne Charlotte Robertson Papers


In addition to her films, Anne Robertson left us a wealth of accompanying papers, including:

  • scripts
  • diaries
  • film recipts
  • festival entry papers
  • clippings
  • items made for film screenings
  • correspondence

A few winners from today’s work are below.  I especially like William Davis’ notes about the Five Year Diary chapter A BREAKDOWN and AFTER THE MENTAL HOSPITAL


flier for Mass Art program small IAC competition Suicide smallerA Breakdown judge report smaller

Posted in Anne Robertson, ephemera, New England, super 8, women filmmakers on 24 September 2014 at 1:27 pm by conservator1
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!

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


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.




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