Exhibition Reel of Two Color Film (ca. 1929)

An experimental color short in Brewster Color, preserved by George Eastman House and presented on the More Treasures DVD set.

New DVD Set Will Present Social Issue Films of the Silent Era

Contact: Annette Melville (415-392-7291, melville@filmpreservation.org)

San Francisco, CA (April 4, 2006)—Thanks to a $350,000 grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Film Preservation Foundation will join forces with American archives to create Treasures from American Film Archives 3, a nine-hour DVD set of social-issue films from the first four decades of the motion picture. The third in the NFPF's award-winning Treasures series, the new anthology will draw from the preservation work of the nation's preeminent silent-film archives—the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Archives, and the UCLA Film and Television Archive—and illustrate the vital role of motion pictures in framing public debate during the silent era.

Abortion, immigration, child labor, TB, workplace safety, juvenile delinquency, atheism, police corruption, women's rights, racial discrimination—the movies began during a period of reform and took an astonishing array of hard-hitting issues to the screen. Early filmmakers crafted stories inspired by newspaper headlines and explored issues that mattered to urban working-class viewers. As movie-going grew in popularity in the 1910s and 1920s, business groups, unions, public health experts, social welfare advocates, and government agencies also turned to the new medium to spread their message. Film transcended barriers of education and language and had the power to connect audiences across the country.

The new set will reclaim this little-known history by presenting an array of features, documentaries, serials, public service announcements, newsreel segments, and cartoons addressing social issues from different political and ideological perspectives. Scheduled for release in fall 2007, the three-disc set will feature audio commentary, newly created musical accompaniments, and program notes and will reunite the production team from the earlier NFPF DVDs: curator Scott Simmon (UC Davis), music curator Martin Marks (MIT), and designer Jennifer Grey (GREYmatter Design). The NEH grant builds on start-up funds already contributed by the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.

"This is great news for everyone who loves American film," said Leonard Maltin, who recently joined the NFPF Board of Directors. "The NFPF's DVDs have rediscovered dozens of little-seen treasures and make it possible for all of us to enjoy the superb preservation work of American film archives. Treasures 3 will continue this important work."

The NFPF's earlier DVD sets, Treasures from American Film Archives (2000; Encore Edition, 2005) and More Treasures from American Film Archives, 1894-1931 (2004) won Film Heritage Awards from the National Society of Film Critics and have become basic tools in libraries and universities.

Treasures 3 is among 44 new Preservation and Access projects announced today by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The NEH grants support projects that preserve and create access to collections that are "highly important for research, education, and public programming in the humanities." The NEH also designated Treasures 3 as a We the People project, a special recognition for model projects that advance the study, teaching, and understanding of American history and culture.

The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America's film heritage. Since starting operations in 1997, the NFPF has assisted institutions in 37 states and helped preserve more than 850 films. The NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. For more information on the NFPF's grants and programs, please visit www.filmpreservation.org.

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