June 19, 2015

Images from the Soviet Film Collection

We have come across some compelling images in the Soviet Film Collection prints. Herewith a selection of our staff favorites, with photos from project film specialist Adrianne Jorge:



A Great Life (1939)


The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)


Regina (1990)


The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)


The Legend of Suram Fortress (1984)


Watch out for the Automobile! (1966)


Malva (1957)


The Thirteenth Apostle (1988)


The Thirteenth Apostle (1988)


Tears Dripped (1983)


Unidentified film


Unidentified film


We are from Kronstadt (1936)


We are from Kronstadt (1936)


Native Blood (1963)


A Great Life (1939)


Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)


Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)


Twenty-Six Commissars (1932)


Unidentified film

Posted in Archivists' pick, new collections, Soviet Film Collection on 19 June 2015 at 3:56 pm by conservator3
June 9, 2015

International Archives Day!

Today marks International Archives Day! We are celebrating by working through our very last pallet of film prints from the newly acquired Soviet Film collection. Here are some before and after photos to show the processing work undertaken for the rehousing and preservation of these films:

The prints in their original containers

The prints in their original containers

Prints rehoused in new preservation cans

Prints rehoused in new preservation cans


Star project employee Adrianne Jorge, hard at work!


Cataloged and stored in boxes, these prints are ready for cold storage

Posted in new collections, Soviet Film Collection on 9 June 2015 at 5:43 pm by conservator3
May 26, 2015

Cbema film stock

While processing our recently acquired Soviet Film Collection we came across some stocks with unusual color fading properties. One stock in particular was perplexing: Cbema (or Svema.) Even new prints on Cbema stock frequently look faded to pink or orange, and often have extreme differences in fading between reels. Some research uncovered this great article about how these odd fading properties were utilized by filmmakers to communicate aesthetically the bleak realities many faced in former Soviet countries.


Although many of the Cbema prints we have encountered thus far have been faded, there are some titles with fantastic color, as pictured below.

















Posted in new collections, Soviet Film Collection on 26 May 2015 at 6:22 pm by conservator3
May 12, 2015

Second Tuesday poster

From the HFA poster collection: Fellini’s masterpiece in glorious Technicolor!

Juliet of the Spirits (1965)

Juliet of the Spirits (1965)

Posted in poster on 12 May 2015 at 6:20 pm by conservator3
April 14, 2015

Second Tuesday poster

I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

I am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang (1932)

Posted in poster on 14 April 2015 at 6:17 pm by conservator3
April 3, 2015

New collection of Soviet films

Checking films_3

Over the next few months the HFA will be processing a large collection of feature films from the former Soviet Union. This collection of Soviet Cinema prints was collected in the 1990s by several collectors in Latvia. There is a great range of titles from the silent era to the late 1990s. 14 pallets of 35mm film canisters came in to the Harvard Depository, our offsite storage facility, this morning, and we brought some select titles back to the conservation center to begin work immediately.
We’ll be posting more about this collection and any unique findings as we process the films.

First batch brought back to 625



anamorphic format Nachalo

Stay tuned!


Posted in collection update, Soviet Film Collection on 3 April 2015 at 3:21 pm by conservator3
March 24, 2015

April Fools’ Day news film

Just in time for April 1, this 1973 short news piece from NYC Channel 2 WCBS-TV was at the top of our 16mm film inspection queue today.


This humorous piece has a local reporter interviewing passerby about who they would elect as the 1973 April Fool. Folks overwhelmingly voted for Nixon, with “Average New Yorkers” and “Mayor Lindsay” coming in at close seconds. One cheerful cyclist elected “Pedestrians who cross the street without looking at the traffic lights”, while another interviewee nominated “The general electorate…because they voted for Nixon!”

This cyclist wants pedestrians to watch the traffic lights!

This cyclist wants pedestrians to watch the traffic lights!

Other questions included, “How will you celebrate April Fools’ Day?” and “Should April Fools’ Day continue to be held every year, or every four years?” to which one woman enthusiastically responded, “There are enough foolish New Yorkers! Hold it every four!”

Disappointed that his interviewees were “so serious” in their responses, the reporter turned and showed his own April Fools’ Day humor, in true New York fashion.


A WCBS-TV April Fools’ Day prank from 1973

Happy April Fools’ Day!


Posted in Archivists' pick on 24 March 2015 at 5:02 pm by conservator3
March 10, 2015

Poster Tuesday

Kanal (1957) directed by Andrzej Wajda. From the Harvard Film Archive poster collection. Browse more HFA images from the HOLLIS+ catalog here.


Kanal (1957) directed by Andrzej Wajda

Posted in poster on 10 March 2015 at 2:13 pm by conservator3
February 24, 2015

The HFA screens Robert Flaherty’s lost film

OIDCHE SHEANCHAUS fireside scene one frame with perfs


You may have been following the news about Harvard’s rediscovery and preservation of Robert Flahery’s Oidhche Sheanchais (A Night of Storytelling). The first film made in the Irish language, this short was produced in 1935 during the filming of Flaherty’s Man of Aran. On February 19, 2015, the Harvard Film Archive had its premiere screening of the film, in a new 35mm print, as part of Folklore and Flaherty: A Symposium on the First Irish-Language Film, with Harvard’s Department of Celtic Languages and Literature.  This new preservation effort by the Harvard Film Archive also marks the first time the film has been subtitled in English.


OIDCHE SHEANCHAUS boy on floor one frame with perfs

The symposium was well attended by the public and the Harvard community, and included short presentations by participants in the film’s research, subtitling, and preservation efforts. Both presenters and attendees brought thoughtful questions and comments about historical context and future plans for the film.  A major theme was the folklore tradition in Ireland, specifically the Aran Islands and surrounding areas where Flaherty’s Man of Aran was filmed.  The film itself features a traditional song, sung by Maggie Dirrane, and a traditional story, told by Seáinín Tom Ó Dioráin.  Symposium participants and those present spoke to their own experiences of Irish folklore, folk music, and storytelling. Each emphasized the importance of preservation for carrying traditions and customs forward through music, storytelling, song, and film. The audience included many Aran Islanders, who spoke joyously of the screening in both personal and cultural terms, bringing their own historical context to the event.

Oidhche Sheanchais (A Night of Storytelling) will screen again as part of the HFA series The Lost Worlds of Robert Flaherty. Join us for a screening of three shorts by Flaherty on Sunday, March 1 and with Man of Aran on Monday, March 9. Please check the HFA online calendar for further information on these screenings.

You can read more about the rediscovery and preservation of this previously lost gem on our previous blog post and on the Harvard Gazette website.

Posted in HFA events, lost film on 24 February 2015 at 7:07 pm by conservator3
February 3, 2015

A slideshow of vintage posters on Harvard Spectacle

Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 7.14.53 PM


We have been having a ball making slideshows with Harvard Spectacle, a discovery tool developed and recently launched with help from Harvard University’s Library Lab program.


Screen Shot 2015-02-02 at 7.15.36 PM


Harvard Spectacle is an open source, web-based service that allows users to find and compile Harvard-owned images from Harvard Library and LibraryCloud, into an online slideshow. This is a great tool for exploring and discovering the many online images from Harvard’s collections, including images from the Harvard Film Archive and Film Conservation Center!

Spectacle’s unique design gives you the option to link to descriptive metadata for each item, creating a complete record for sharing and recording related information. Other features include links to add public-domain images from Flickr, audio from SoundCloud, and animated GIFs from Giphy, for a truly customized presentation. Social share buttons at the top of each page make it easy to embed slideshows to your Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr accounts.

Best of all: ANYONE can register to use Harvard Spectacle!

Visit the Harvard Spectacle website to create a profile and get started. While you’re there, explore the slideshows compiled by Harvard librarians and archivists that showcase some pretty spectacular collection materials (sorry – we couldn’t help ourselves!) and check out the Film Conservation Center’s slideshow of vintage film posters.

Harvard Spectacle may be here only for a limited time, but the more users the better! Create a profile today and help boost this project to a featured slot on the Library Lab website.

Posted in poster on 3 February 2015 at 6:42 pm by conservator3