Features

A Curtain Tells of a Town’s Cinema History

posted April 14, 2021

An almost 100-year-old canvas cinema curtain in Queanbeyan, a southeastern Australian town, bears telling witness to the life of the settlement, and to the early history of film exhibition in the region, and the whole country. It’s held in the Queanbeyan Museum and is too big for curators to roll out in their facility, a former police sergeant’s residence. The Museum’s curators count the curtain, which doubled as a sort of advertising hoarding, as one of their most cherished items, in good part for the tale it tells of Queanbeyan life in the 1920s.

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Looking Again at Eyes on the Prize

posted April 1, 2021

The civil rights era in the United States was a time of great upheaval, of continuing and at times intensified injustice, and of both triumph and tragedy. Now the Boston-based American Archive of Public Broadcasting (AAPB) has released a new online exhibit – Freedom Song: Interviews from Eyes on the Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954–1965 – that explores what went into making the groundbreaking 1987 television series, Eyes on the Prize, which famously depicted the era.

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Hagley Library’s Collection Tells How Industry Worked

posted March 22, 2021

The range of fascinating pitches made in “industrial” films during the heyday of that sprawling genre is evident in the Cinecraft Production collection, which the Hagley Library in Wilmington, Delaware, has acquired and is now promoting. How were workers in the mid-20th century assured that capitalism and industrialism were wholesome forces? How did consumers in 1947 learn about the introduction of FM radio, and how the technology operated? If you were an industrialist, how did you tell members of the public about your industry, if otherwise word would likely never get out?

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The Israel Film Archive, Online

posted March 5, 2021

What did the State of Israel look like at its founding in 1948? What ads ran on TV in 1970? What did vacationing on the seaside look like in 1968? Since the Israel Film Archive launched its new website in September 2020, it has attracted well over 500,000 visits from people interested in finding out. Visitors have also been able to stream feature films, there, and many other audiovisual recordings.

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A Lifetime of Movie Research, Digitized

posted February 2, 2021

For decades, Lillian Michelson performed research in support of Hollywood film producers, directors, designers, and other creatives. With material she gathered in the course of her work, in 1969 she began the Cinema Research Library that now bears her name. A new chapter in the vast collection has begun with Michelson’s donation of the material to the Internet Archive.

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What COVID-19 Means for Moving Image Archiving

posted December 8, 2020

“One of the most remarkable ripple effects of the 2020 COVID-19 crisis is the blurring in the public perception of the distinction between natural and human-made disasters,” and this has implications for film preservation, writes Paolo Cherchi Usai in a keynote article of a special COVID-themed issue of FIAF’s Journal of Film Preservation.

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Eastman’s South Asian Treasure Trove

posted November 6, 2020

Thanks to a substantial grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the George Eastman Museum is hard at work restoring an unusual collection of films from South Asia. The grant was made through the IMLS Museums for America grant program. Eastman is using it to restore 1,285 Indian and Pakistani film prints. Archivists there believe their collection to be largest of its kind outside India.

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47 Orphan Films To Be Preserved with Federal Grants

posted October 1, 2020

The National Film Preservation Foundation has announced annual grants to U.S. 34 institutions to allow them to preserve 47 “orphan” films from their collections. (“Orphan film” is defined as a film in any form that has been abandoned by its owner or caretaker.) Since 1998 the NFPF has provided preservation resources to 315 organizations in all 50 American states as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico to help save 2,547 films.

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The Total Television Guerrillas Who Upturned Conventions

posted September 30, 2020

There once was a time when cellphones didn’t capture just about everything that happens in public. Until the 1970s, filming for broadcast was generally constrained, for starters, by the size and weight of cameras. TV cameras and their tape setups, shackled to power sources, were the size of half a car. Then along came the Sony Portapak video camera, and the pioneers of "guerrilla tv."

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Digitizing the First Days of Public Access Television

posted September 2, 2020

Public access to free-to-air and cable television resulted from a lot of activism by pioneers in the face of many obstacles. From 1971, the plucky New York state collective, Portable Channel, created some of the earliest citizen-made documentary television in the United States. Now Visual Studies Workshop, based in Rochester, NY, is digitizing and making available hundreds of video tapes created by members of Portable Channel.

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