Mantrap (1926)

A wilderness comedy starring Clara Bow, preserved by the Library of Congress and presented on the Treasures 5: The West DVD set.

Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986

Overview  |  Contents  |  Contributors  |  Brochure (PDF)  |  Clips

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2-DVD box set, with 72-page book

312 minutes, r
eleased 2008

  • 2009 Film Heritage Award
    National Society of Film Critics

  • 2009 Best Avant-Garde Publication
    Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival, Bologna

In the years following World War II, a new generation of Americans experimented with cinema. Some came to filmmaking from painting or sculpture; others from music, anthropology, photography, or political activism. A few took up the camera to create art with friends. Armed with inexpensive 16mm and 8mm equipment, these filmmakers started from scratch and pushed film in directions it had never gone before. Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986 presents 26 films by artists who helped to redefine cinema. It is the first anthology of the period available on DVD.

The 5-1/4 hour, 2-disc anthology, distributed by Image Entertainment, samples an array of film types and styles, from abstract animation to documentary, and balances acknowledged classics with rediscoveries. The films are drawn from the preservation work of five of America's foremost avant-garde archives—the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Anthology Film Archives, the Museum of Modern Art, the New York Public Library, and the Pacific Film Archive. None of the titles has been available before on good-quality video in the United States.

The anthology was produced with the full support of the filmmakers and estates and the help of many generous contributors. Production support came from The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts; telecine services were donated by Film Technology, Inc. John Zorn contributed new music; Martin Scorsese wrote the foreword to the program notes. AMPAS generously provided technical assistance.

Made on a shoestring, avant-garde films have always existed at the margins of commercial distribution. Over the last two decades film archives stepped forward to save what they can. They have collaborated with artists, compared alternative versions, tracked down the best surviving source material, and preserved scores of works. Many more films are still awaiting preservation and the process continues only thanks to public support. Net proceeds from Treasures IV will support further film preservation.