NFPF Awards Preservation Grants to 27 Films

Frame grab from Arthur H. Smith's "Memories on Film" (1979), which the Center for Home Movies is restoring.
The National Film Preservation Foundation has awarded preservation grants to 27 films being cared for by 20 institutions.

The Foundation’s grants program targets newsreels, silent-era films, documentaries, culturally important home movies, avant-garde films, and endangered independent productions that fall under the radar of commercial preservation programs.

The awards support the creation of film preservation masters and two access copies of each work. Films that win NFPF grants eventually become available to the public for on-site research and wide exhibition through screenings, museum installations, DVDs, television broadcasts, and the Internet.

Since Congress created the Foundation in 1996, it has helped save more about 2,000 films held by 253 institutions across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. The NFPF makes grants with federal money provided through the Library of Congress, and is the charitable affiliate of the Library’s National Film Preservation Board. For its operational and project funding, it raises funding from other sources. The NFPF also publishes the award-winning Treasures from American Film Archives DVD series and organizes international projects to preserve and make available copies of “lost” American silent era films found abroad.

Detail from a poster advertising the film "Boy Mayor," which the Oregon Historical Society is restoring.
This year’s awardees, listed below, reflect the historical range of NFPF awards. One among them, The Boy Mayor (1914), a Hollywood-produced short made in Portland, Oregon, typifies the way films come to be preserved. The late Bill O’Farrell, who headed film preservation operations at the National Archives of Canada for many years, donated the film to the Oregon Historical Society. The copy, said Michelle Kribs, the Society’s film preservationist, “is thought to be the only print to survive.” Not surprisingly, then, he said: “We are thrilled to be able to save The Boy Mayor documenting Portland’s progressive-era experiment to give teenagers a say in local government.”

The Boy Mayor was a silent theatrical film directed by Henry, a Hollywood pioneer who directed over 140 films between 1913 and 1933. The Nestor Film Company produced the film; Universal Film Manufacturing distributed it. While not the first theatrical film produced in Oregon, it depicts a rare facet of Oregon history: Portland was reputedly the only city in the world at the time with a legalized form of juvenile government operating in conjunction with the regular municipality. The program aimed to lessen juvenile delinquency. Eugene J. Rich, the Boy Mayor of Portland, and his private secretary, Earl Goodwin, played themselves.

Frame grab of courtrooms scene from "Boy Mayor"(1914), by Henry McRae, which the Oregon Historical Society will conserve. The image is from a cellulose negative. Courtesy: Oregon Historical Society.
The grant recipients (with links to separate articles on some) are:

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