A team of film experts and archivists from the United States under the direction of New York University’s Dan Streible, associate professor in the Department of Cinema Studies at the Tisch School of the Arts and associate director of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program (MIAP), will travel to Buenos Aires this month to help the Museo del Cine preserve its orphan films. A small, under-funded city institution, the Museo holds a large and important collection of rare motion pictures, many in urgent need of preservation.
The all-volunteer team of 12 includes preservationists from the Museum of Modern Art, Harvard, the University of Chicago, BB Optics film lab, as well as NYU faculty, staff, and students. Co-organizers of the project are NYU alumnae Paula Félix-Didier (MIAP ‘06), director of the Museo del Cine, and Natalia Fidelholtz (MIAP ‘06).
The Museo del Cine collection is vast and comprises more than 65,000 reels of 16mm film alone. The films come from all over the Americas and Europe, produced as early as 1910 and as late as the 1970s. In 2008, Félix-Didier made international headlines when she uncovered a silent-era masterpiece long presumed lost-the director’s cut of the German film Metropolis (1927). Other “lost” films from early Hollywood and elsewhere are being found as the collection gets inspected.
“We’re on an archivists-without-borders mission and our group is a kind of dream team for a film archive,” said Streible. The team will spend two weeks (May 17-30) in Buenos Aires and devote its time to the meticulous work of archiving. Films will be inventoried, inspected, repaired, identified, catalogued, and rehoused, with the most valuable finds prepared for laboratory preservation. All work will be done in collaboration with the museum’s staff of five, who will also receive training with supplies and equipment they have previously lacked.
The Buenos Aires project is part of NYU’s Audio-Visual Preservation Exchange (APEX), which was established by Mona Jimenez, associate arts professor in the Department of Cinema Studies and associate director of MIAP, in 2008 to conduct a similar outreach in Accra, Ghana.
The results of both the Ghana and Argentina initiatives to identify and preserve neglected but significant moving image works will be reported and showcased with new prints at the 7th Orphan Film Symposium, April 7-10, 2010, at the Library of Congress, National Audio-Visual Conservation Center. Streible organizes this international gathering of archivists, artists, and academics, all of whom work to save, screen, and study a wide variety of at-risk films. Any film that has suffered neglect and falls outside of the commercial mainstream can be designated an “orphan.” For more on the symposium, visit www.nyu.edu/orphanfilms.
The Buenos Aires project has received generous support from Kodak, Urbanski Film, Tuscan Corp., Colorlab, Cineric, as well as NYU Libraries, Harvard Film Archive, University of Chicago Film Study Center, and The John Anson Kittredge Educational Fund.
Film Expert Team Organized by NYU
- Daniela Bajar, NYU Cinema Studies M.A. ‘08
- Howard Besser, NYU professor in Cinema Studies and MIAP Director
- Bill Brand, NYU adjunct professor in Cinema Studies and owner of BB Optics
- Liz Coffey, Harvard Film Archive, Conservator
- Carolyn Faber, Chicago archivist/consultant
- Natalia Fidelholtz, NYU MIAP ‘06
- Julia Gibbs, University of Chicago Film Study Center
- Alice Moscoso, NYU Libraries, audio-visual preservationist
- Sarah Resnick, NYU MIAP ‘07
- Dan Streible, NYU associate professor and Orphan Film Symposium Director
- Kimberly Tarr, NYU MIAP ‘09
- Katie Trainor, Museum of Modern Art, Film Collections Manager
- Haden Guest, Harvard Film Archive, Director
- Paolo Cherchi Usai, Haghefilm Foundation
- Stefan Drössler, Munich Film Museum, Director
- Mark Toscano, Academy Film Archive, Preservationist