Online Field Guide to Sponsored Films launches

Few film fans would think to seek out films made by corporations, schools, and religious and political organizations, to pitch their various causes and campaigns. And yet, as film collector and historian Rick Prelinger demonstrated in 2006 with his The Field Guide to Sponsored Films, such works can be of considerable historical, cultural, or artistic interest.


Prelinger selection 1

Some of the selections on the new Online Field Guide to Sponsored Films.


Television an RCA presentation 1939

In a 1939 short film (above, and below), RCA made the case for a newfangled form of transmission: television. It proclaimed: “A new American industry has been born. Television is taking its place as another important and vital contribution to our daily lives. It is a modern miracle.

Prelinger’s guide was very well received by film historians and archivists in part because it so compellingly made the case, with a selection of 452 films, that there’s no good reason for sponsored films being as rarely publicly shown, as they are.

Now, 102 of the works from his selection are available for free viewing and in many cases downloading, on a new website mounted by the National Film Preservation Foundation, which published the Guide. (For that matter, the Guide can be downloaded, free of charge, from the site, too.)

The NFPF is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. For the new Online Field Guide to Sponsored Films, it collaborated with the Library of Congress and the Internet Archive, along with several other organizations. Films were scanned from various archives, including the Library of Congress. An introduction on the new collection website explains its rationale: “Most films in the guide are unavailable for study and those that can be viewed are often available only in subpar viewing quality.”

prelinger selection 2

Some of the selections on the new Online Field Guide to Sponsored Films.


— Moving Image Archive News



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