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.

Shares Jean Mitry Award with New Zealand Film Archive

Contact: Jeff Lambert (415-392-7291, lambert@filmpreservation.org)

San Francisco, CA (October 3, 2011)—Le Giornate del Cinema Muto, the internationally renowned festival of silent film held annually in Pordenone, Italy, will honor the NFPF with the 2011 Jean Mitry Award, the annual international prize established by the Province of Pordenone in 1986 to single out individuals or organizations “distinguished for their contribution to the reclamation and appreciation of silent cinema.”

The NFPF will share the award with the New Zealand Film Archive, the NFPF’s partner in a groundbreaking collaboration to preserve and make available American silent-era films identified in New Zealand. This is the first time that an American institution has received the award. It is also the first time that it has been shared by two organizations.

The festival will give the award on October 7 before a screening of the surviving reels of The White Shadow (1923), the earliest surviving feature credited to Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980). The opening 35 minutes of this British production were found at the NZFA by an NFPF researcher and preserved through the collaboration. The festival will also present three film programs drawn from the NFPF’s recent DVD release, Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938, which hit stores last week.

Among the many rarities recovered through the multi-year initiative are the only extant print of the John Ford comedy Upstream (1927); Maytime (1923) with Clara Bow; and Won in a Cupboard (1914), the first surviving film directed by and starring Mabel Normand. All told, some 163 American silent-era titles have been identified for preservation in the United States. More than 80% are thought to exist nowhere else. Work to save these titles is well underway thanks to support from private donors, four Hollywood studios, Turner Classic movies, and a Save America’s Treasures grant, administered by the National Endowment for the Arts for the National Park Service.

The “lost” films will be accessed through the five major American silent film archives: the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and UCLA Film & Television Archive, which are collaborating with the NFPF on this project. Copies of the complete films will also be publicly available in New Zealand. Many will be viewable on the NFPF Web site.

Only a fraction of the American films created during the first four decades of the motion picture still exist in the United States—probably fewer than 20%. American silent films, however, had a worldwide popularity, and many works discarded in the United States survive abroad as distribution prints that were salvaged decades ago at the end of theatrical runs. Most of the films recovered in New Zealand owe their survival to far-sighted collectors.

The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. Since starting operations in 1997, the NFPF has helped save more than 1,810 films at archives, libraries, and museums across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.

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