Orphan Film Symposium Goes Midwest


Following last year’s successful events in New York and Los Angeles, NYU’s Orphan Film Project will expand into the heartland with the first “Orphans Midwest” edition of the symposia series at Indiana University Bloomington, tomorrow, September 26 through 28. More than sixty speakers, including 14 NYU Cinema Studies alumni and faculty, will address the theme “Materiality and the Moving Image.”

Orphan Film Symposium Goes Midwest

Following last year’s successful events in New York and Los Angeles, NYU’s Orphan Film Project will expand into the heartland with the first “Orphans Midwest” edition of the symposia series at Indiana University Bloomington, tomorrow, September 26 through 28. More than sixty speakers, including 14 NYU Cinema Studies alumni and faculty, will address the theme “Materiality and the Moving Image.”

Founded by NYU Associate Professor of Cinema Studies Dan Streible, the Orphan Film Symposium draws scholars and archivists from around the world to screen, analyze, and discuss old, rare, almost lost, and nearly forgotten films and videos.

“Often one-of-a-kind creations, orphan films capture glimpses of our shared world that, without preservation, could be lost forever,” said Streible. “The Orphan Film Symposium reaches beyond the academy by working with commercial labs as well as museums, archives, libraries, and individual artists and collectors to generate the preservation of orphaned film and video material. The symposium also gives recently preserved and newly rediscovered films a public showcase that leads to further visibility.”

The term “orphan films” refers to many forms of neglected cinematic artifacts, rarities, and rediscoveries, including unreleased films, educational movies, censored material, medical films, surveillance footage, student works, among a host of other categories.

Orphans Midwest opens on Thursday evening, September 26, with the premiere of Bill Morrison’s All Vows, with a score performed live by virtuoso cellist Maya Beiser. Commissioned by Indiana University Cinema and the IU Jewish Studies Program, this performance will be enhanced by Beiser performing with three other Morrison films, including Cello Counterpoint, with music Steve Reich wrote expressly for her.

Other symposium highlights include: the premiere of a never-released 1925 short about the U.S. 10th Cavalry’s buffalo soldiers, a keynote address by renowned cinema historian Tom Gunning (NYU Cinema Studies alum), a new documentary by Jane Gillooly (Suitcase of Love and Shame) using a mysterious cache of found audiotapes, a talk by NYU Tisch arts professor Mona Jimenez on the first video synthesizers, and dozens of orphan film screenings.

The symposium is presented by IU Libraries Film Archive, Indiana University Cinema, and NYU Cinema Studies/Tisch School of the Arts, with additional support from the IU New Frontiers in the Arts and Humanities Program and the College of Arts and Humanities Institute.

Preserving and studying orphan films is a key component of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program (MIAP) in the Department of Cinema Studies at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Founded in 2003, the MIAP Program is one of only three graduate programs in the United States devoted to training the next generation of audiovisual archivists.

Presentations at this year’s symposium focus on the technical challenges posed by the materials themselves: celluloid film, various types of videotapes, and the proliferation of digital file formats. Materiality and the Moving Images on September 26 and runs through September 28, 2013. The full schedule is available online. The symposium is taking place at the IU Cinema, a 260-seat, THX certified theater dedicated to the scholarly study. For more information contact the director: Dan.Streible@nyu.edu. To register for Orphans Midwest, please click here.

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