“LOST” AMERICAN SILENT FILMS MADE AVAILABLE THROUGH DUTCH-AMERICAN COLLABORATION
Contact: David Wells (415-392-7291, email@example.com)
San Francisco, CA (October 26, 2015)—Six American silent-era films that were protected at EYE Filmmuseum in Amsterdam and have been preserved through a collaborative project organized by the San Francisco–based National Film Preservation Foundation premiere online today. Among the newly viewable films are the Fleischer Brothers cartoon Koko’s Queen (1926) and a 1917 journey up the Eliot Glacier, the largest on Oregon’s Mount Hood.
The films were preserved and made available by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the Library of Congress, and the Oregon Historical Society. The National Museum of American History is currently working to preserve a number of industrial films including Fine Paper (ca. 1917), which shows how the Strathmore Paper Company of Massachusetts made its celebrated rag paper. This and other films will be added to the NFPF website as preservation is completed. Thanks to a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the nonfiction films are being presented with new musical scores by composer Michael Mortilla and program notes written by experts. For the short comedy Clarence Cheats at Croquet (1915) the music and notes were generously provided by the Thanhouser Company Film Preservation, Inc.
“The most important step in the preservation process is making films available to audiences,” said National Film Preservation Foundation Executive Director Jeff Lambert. “The NFPF is thrilled to make this first batch of films preserved through this collaboration between EYE and the American archival community available for free viewing online. The nonfiction films, preserved with funding from the NEH, are of particular interest. From a rodeo competition in 1920 to an animated film on evolution from 1925, these films show how film documented American life and educated its citizens.”
The NFPF also announced today the next group of 30 films discovered at EYE and slated for preservation in 2016. Among the titles are For the Defense (1922), a feature starring ZaSu Pitts as a suspected murderess; Glimpse of the Remington Factory (ca. 1926), an industrial following the production of a Remington typewriter from molten metal to its role in the office; travelogues from Yosemite; the flapper comedy The Reckless Age (1924) starring Reginald Denny; and more than 15 newsreel stories from the 1920s. Over the next year, these works will be preserved to 35mm film and made publicly available. Copies will also be given to EYE and streamed from the NFPF website. This will bring the number of films saved through this collaboration to 56. The NFPF continues to seek matching funds to complete the project.
The titles were identified at EYE during two months of research funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The highly flammable nitrate prints were distributed in the Netherlands in the 1910s and 1920s and eventually made their way into the EYE collections. Many are tinted. All are thought to be unique or the best surviving source material reported anywhere in the world.
Only a fraction of the American motion pictures created during the first decades of the movie industry still survive in the United States—probably fewer than 20%. Phenomenally popular, American silent films circulated around the world, and some titles that were discarded at home survive overseas as distribution prints salvaged by collectors. The Library of Congress has estimated that roughly one-third of complete American silent-era features that still exist are found only in archives abroad. About shorter films, even less is known.
EYE Filmmuseum is home to one of Europe’s most extensive cinema collections. The star in its crown is the early films, posters, and records from Jean Desmet, which have been recognized as a cultural treasure by UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register. EYE hosts a year-round program of screenings, exhibitions, and film-related events in its landmark building on Amsterdam’s north bank of the river IJ. EYE streams many early films from its Open Beelden website.
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 some 2,230 films at archives, libraries, and museums across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia and through partnerships with the Australia’s National Film and Sound Archive, Cineteca del Friuli, the New Zealand Film Archive, and EYE Filmmuseum. The NFPF makes films available through its website and award-winning Treasures DVD series.
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