A few stars from the Harvard Film Archive Conservation Center’s stable of vintage and small gauge equipment:
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.
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.)
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.
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!
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: http://homemovieday.com/
We hope to see you and your movies this weekend!
In addition to her films, Anne Robertson left us a wealth of accompanying papers, including:
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
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…
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.
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
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).
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.
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.)
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.
We are posting pix of Leader Ladies when we find good ones. Keep your eyes on our flickr album!
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.
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.
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.
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!