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.


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

San Francisco, CA (December 1, 2006)—The National Film Preservation Foundation today announced the publication of The Field Guide to Sponsored Films by Rick Prelinger, the first overview of the motion pictures commissioned by American businesses, charities, advocacy groups, and state and local government units over the past century. The annotated filmography singles out 452 sponsored films of particular historical, cultural, and artistic interest from the more than 300,000 thought to have been made.

As early as the 1900s, filmmakers began creating works to showcase industry, advocate social causes, explain government programs, promote commercial products, and highlight the good work of charities. Such motion pictures came to be called sponsored films, as their production was funded or "sponsored" by corporations, government entities, or non-profits to communicate a specific message. Today sponsored films are largely forgotten.

"An American in the Making (1913), Bridging San Francisco Bay (1937), Rhapsody in Steel (1959)—U. S. Steel made dozens of motion pictures promoting its mission and products," said John Armstrong, Manager of Public Affairs for U. S. Steel. "Some like Steel: Man's Servant (1938), shot in three-strip Technicolor on location in mines and factories, are outstanding films in their own right. It is exciting to see renewed interest in this under-appreciated part of America's motion picture history."

The 152-page publication, with index and repository information, is the result of a collaborative project made possible by a grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the National Film Preservation Foundation. Serving on the editorial committee were film archivists from the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, and the University of Georgia, and scholars from the University of South Carolina and University of Notre Dame. Dozens of other scholars, archivists, and collectors also contributed data to the project. Rick Prelinger, a noted collector of industrial films, chairs the Internet Archive's Board of Directors.

Free copies of The Field Guide to Sponsored Films can be downloaded from the NFPF Web site (www.filmpreservation.org) or requested in book form by mail. There is an $8.50 fee for domestic shipping ($13 for international requests), payable in advance, for each copy.

The National Film Preservation Foundation is the non-profit organization created by the U.S. Congress in 1996 to help save America's film heritage. The charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, the NFPF has supported film preservation in 38 states and the District of Columbia and has helped save more than 1035 films and collections.

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