Today the NFPF makes freely available for online viewing 47 films from its first DVD set, Treasures from American Film Archives. Originally released in 2000 and hailed by Roger Ebert as “a treasure trove of old, obscure, forgotten, rediscovered, and fascinating footage from the first century of film,” Treasures marked the first time that America’s archives had joined forces to share their films with home video audiences and showcase the amazing range of American films. It received an award from the National Society of Film Critics and was called the “best set of the year” by The New York Times. Treasures eventually sold out, as did an Encore edition made possible through the support of the Cecil B. De Mille Foundation. We are committed to keeping the Treasures films accessible to the public and now present them on our website.
Mastered from the finest archival sources, the 47 films include the first feature-length Snow White (1916), Western star William S. Hart in Hell’s Hinges (1916), The Toll of the Sea (1922) in two-strip Technicolor, The Fall of the House of Usher (1928) by James Sibley Watson Jr. and Melville Webber, John Huston’s searing antiwar documentary The Battle of San Pietro (1945), and footage of Orson Welles's 1936 “Voodoo” Macbeth. Together they represent 10 stunning hours, including the first publicly exhibited movie, cutting-edge avant-garde works, silent-era features, pioneering special effects films, landmark independent productions, documentaries, newsreels, animation, political ads, and home movies made from coast to coast. All films are accompanied by program notes by the set’s curator Scott Simmon (UC Davis) and feature either their original soundtracks or commissioned scores supervised by music curator Martin Marks (MIT). Since its release Treasures from American Film Archives has been valued by cinephiles and educators—this online release ensures that a wide audience can continue enjoying these films, either as entertainment, a teaching resource, or, best of all, both.