NATIONAL FILM PRESERVATION FOUNDATION AWARDS FIRST AVANT-GARDE MASTERS GRANTS
Kenneth Anger's Rabbit's Moon and the Kuchar Brother's 8mm Underground Classics Slated for Preservation Through Grants Funded by The Film Foundation
Contact: Barbara Gibson (415-392-7291, firstname.lastname@example.org)
San Francisco, CA (August 12, 2003)—Films by avant-garde masters George and Mike Kuchar and Kenneth Anger are singled out for preservation through a new competitive grant created by The Film Foundation and the National Film Preservation Foundation to save the work of influential American experimental filmmakers. The $50,000 grant award will be shared by two archives. New York's Anthology Film Archives will preserve nine legendary Hollywood parodies created on 8mm by the Kuchar twins from 1958 to 1963. UCLA Film and Television Archive will preserve Rabbit's Moon, the only Anger film originally shot on 35mm nitrate. Both will partner with the filmmakers on their projects.
In the late fifties George and Mike Kuchar began making 8mm movies that toyed with the conventions of Hollywood melodrama. With titles like A Woman Distressed and I Was a Teenage Rumpot, the outrageous take offs caused such a scandal at the New York Eight Millimeter Club that the Kuchars moved screenings to Ken Jacob's Ferry Street loft. The works are among the underground films credited with spawning a rethinking of popular culture that later took on the term "camp." The 8mm films are currently too fragile for exhibition. Anthology Film Archive plans to transfer the works to 16mm and save the accompanying ¼ inch sound tape recording in a more stable format.
Kenneth Anger shot Rabbit's Moon in 1950 in the studio of French filmmaker Jean-Pierre Melville. Hailed by Stan Brakhage as Anger's greatest film, Rabbit's Moon recasts the story of an attempted suicide as a poetic fable involving Harlequin and Pierrot. Anger prepared a 16mm version in 1970 but was never able to release the film in 35mm. UCLA will work from the original nitrate camera negative to preserve the work as it was originally shot.
American avant-garde films are among the most at risk. Produced on a shoestring, these works often drop from distribution after their initial screenings at underground cinemas and museums. Years later, culturally significant titles may exist only in battered prints or poorly stored production materials. Typically, filmmakers struggle to find funding to properly store their films, let alone preserve or restore them.
The Avant-Garde Masters is the first grant aimed specifically at preserving America's experimental film heritage. Awarded by an expert panel and administered by the NFPF, the grants enable archives to work directly with filmmakers to save works significant to the development of the avant-garde in America. The prints produced through the preservation process will be available for archival viewing at the conclusion of the projects.
"Kenneth Anger and the Kuchar Brothers are the aorta of the original underground film movement," said filmmaker John Waters. "Without their incredible pioneering influence, the independent film world could never have been born."
"Archives have been a safe haven for American films, and particularly for independent filmmakers. We hope that, as news of these new grants spread, more filmmakers will step forward to collaborate with archives to save their work for future generations," said Margaret Bodde, Executive Director of The Film Foundation. The Film Foundation plans to offer the grant again in 2004 through the National Film Preservation Foundation.
The National Film Preservation Foundation (www.filmpreservation.org) is the non-profit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America's film heritage. The NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. The NFPF has advanced film preservation in 34 states and the District of Columbia and helped save more than 600 films and collections.
The Film Foundation is a nonprofit organization established in 1990 by Martin Scorsese and nine other eminent directors—Woody Allen, Robert Altman, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Sydney Pollack, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg—dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history. The foundation provides substantial annual support for preservation and restoration projects at the nation's leading archives and film institutions, which serve as a vital link for public access to our film treasures.
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