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The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films

The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films
The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films

Linwood Dunn Theater
1341 Vine Street
Hollywood, CA, 90028

Filmmakers, scholars and archivists from across the country presented dozens of fascinating “orphan” films, previously neglected works deserving preservation and revival. This eclectic showcase began with the West Coast premiere of the restoration of Shirley Clarke’s documentary “Portrait of Jason” and continued all day May 11, with treasures including Penelope Spheeris’s unseen student film “Shit” (1969), rarely seen short works by Saul Bass and Satyajit Ray, and a 1928 two-strip Technicolor romance filmed by the Oscar-winning cinematographer of “Gone with the Wind.”

Friday, May 10 at 8 p.m.
Linwood Dunn Theater
(reception for ticketholders begins at 7 p.m.)


West Coast Restoration Premiere, hosted by Oscar winner and Documentary Branch governor Rob Epstein and documentarian Jeffrey Friedman

This hybrid performance/vérité documentary by Oscar nominee Shirley Clarke startled viewers in 1967 with its innovative style and groundbreaking presentation of a gay African-American man. Clarke shot 12 hours of interview footage overnight at New York’s storied Hotel Chelsea to create this profile of an engaging, self-described hustler who called himself Jason Holliday. Poet Allen Ginsberg wrote, “Jason reaches brilliant moments in a total run-down of his soul history/an all-night monologue breaking the barrier between private humor and public discourse,” while Ingmar Bergman reportedly called it “the most extraordinary film I’ve seen in my life.”

Restored by the Academy Film Archive and Milestone Films. There was an onstage discussion moderated by film critic Elvis Mitchell following the screening with the evening's hosts and the film’s assistant to the director, Robert Fiore and Milestone Films president Dennis Doros.

Saturday, May 11
Linwood Dunn Theater

A full day of surprising, curious, rediscovered orphan films, surveying the 20th century in an amazing variety of forms, genres and formats.
10:30 a.m.


The 1967 Montreal World’s Fair featured innovative, experimental, multi-screen and large-format films. Watching 70mm projection, an increasingly rare treat, is as close as you can come to experiencing the cinematic thrills of landmark events such as Expo 67. This segment includes an 10-minute excerpt from “The Shape of Films to Come” (CBS, 1968, 10 mins., preserved by the Academy, digital), which takes a look at the supposed future of the multi-screen experience through films produced for Expo 67; and “A Place to Stand,” a 70mm film produced for the Expo’s Ontario Pavilion (Canada, 1967, 17 mins., preserved by the Academy, 70mm).
Presenters: Archivist/filmmaker Walter Forsberg (NYU Libraries) and Josef Lindner (Academy Film Archive).

12:15 p.m.


Whether purposely shot amateur works or modest home movies, small-gauge films far outnumber theatrical motion pictures. When preserved, they provide a wide array of perspectives on the past and how it was recorded. This segment features a rare home movie from a San Francisco family circa 1917 (Herman Barfield Collection, ca. 1917, 4 mins., digital), a unique color home movie featuring baseball legend Satchel Paige (Richard Brooks Collection, 1948, 5 mins., digital) and a screening of renowned gay activist Pat Rocco’s footage from an early Hollywood Gay Pride Parade (Pat Rocco, 1971, 11 mins.).
Presenters: Lynne Kirste (Academy Film Archive), Todd Wiener (UCLA Film & Television Archive).

Remaking the Archive with Home Movies Home movies pose not only a challenge to commonly accepted forms of narrative and documentary cinema, but to commonly accepted forms of the archive as well. Filmmaker and archivist Rick Prelinger presents home movies as both fascinating evidence and archival monkey wrenches, points out ways in which home movies challenge collecting institutions and workflows, and suggests several tactical approaches by which home movies can propel archives forward. The talk will include a sneak peek from his work in progress, “No More Road Trips?”
Presenter: Rick Prelinger (Prelinger Library & Archives, San Francisco).

1:15 p.m.

Lunch provided for Saturday pass holders (must purchase passes in advance; vegetarian options will be available)

 2:15 p.m.


The re-premiere of two recently discovered silent films: “The Love Charm” (1928, 10 mins., digital), a two-strip Technicolor production shot by Ray Rennahan, who went on to win an Academy Award for Color Cinematography for “Gone with the Wind,” and “The Bishop of Hollywood” (Fred Caldwell, 1924, 20 mins., preserved by the Academy, 35mm), a rediscovered two-reel comedy presented with live piano accompaniment by Michael Mortilla. “The Love Charm” is a recent restoration by George Eastman House with funding from the National Film Preservation Foundation, with nitrate source material provided by the New Zealand Film Archive.
Presenters: Jeff Lambert (National Film Preservation Foundation) and Snowden Becker (UCLA Moving Image Archive Studies).

Hey Mama
Beyond Hollywood proper, Los Angeles is home to artists, filmmakers, teachers and students who have collectively produced fascinating documentation of communities in Southern California. “Hey, L.A.” includes filmmaker Vaughn Obern’s short “Hey Mama” (1969, 18 mins., 16mm), which looks at the lives of working class African Americans living in the Venice section of L.A., and lead-ins to vintage film screenings on Black Entertainment Television in 1981 (S. Pearl Sharp and Thom Eubank, 1981, 20 mins., digital).
Presenters: Mark Quigley (UCLA Film & Television Archive), Jacqueline Stewart (Northwestern University) and artist S. Pearl Sharp.

4:30 p.m.


Introduced by Rick Prelinger. This segment on the cinematic creativity and artistry of in-house industrial productions and sponsored films includes “Transformations” (1968, 17 mins., digital), a gem made for IBM by Ralph Sargent, now a legendary figure in film preservation and restoration; a rarely seen ten-minute version of “A New Look for the Bell System” (Saul Bass, 1969, 10 mins., digital), produced by Saul Bass to unveil a new branding campaign; “From Here to There,” Bass’s 1964 interpretation of contemporary air travel (Saul Bass, 1964, 9 mins., 35mm); and “Two” (Satyajit Ray, 1964, 11 mins., preserved by the Academy, 16mm), a unique film without dialogue produced for the television program “Esso World Theatre,” centering on the play/rivalry between a child of the streets and a child of privilege.
Presenters: Ralph Sargent (Film Technology Co.), Sean Savage (Academy Film Archive), Jan-Christopher Horak (UCLA Film & Television Archive/Academy Film Scholar) and Priya Jaikumar (University of Southern California).

(6:15 p.m. Break)

8 p.m.


Be amazed, perplexed and entertained by ten short films from off the map and under the radar (if not beyond the pale). This selection will likely never be replicated and includes the sole surviving Auroratone and projection from a working 16mm home Vitaphone sound-on-disc. Other content ranges from World War II Americana to “Mad Men”-period absurdities, from post-Vietnam War politics to beautiful smart science, and includes three Oscar-nominated shorts plus filmmakers Penelope Spheeris and Jon Boorstin in person.

“When the Organ Played ‘Oh Promise Me’” (Cecil Stokes, ca. 1943, 4 mins., 16mm) – Bing Crosby croons in this abstract animated film, the only surviving Auroratone production, made with the intention of soothing audiences, including hospitalized war veterans.
Presenter: Walter Forsberg (NYU Libraries).
“Shit” Happens: The Salvation of a Lost Student Film, a screening and discussion of Penelope Spheeris’s never-before-seen film “Shit” (1969, 4 mins., preserved by the Academy, 16mm).
Presenters: Filmmaker Penelope Spheeris and Mark Toscano (Academy Film Archive).
“Felix Ferdinando and His Orchestra in 'Musical Moments'” (Bristolphone, ca. 1929-30, 14 mins., from the Herbert E. Farmer Motion Picture Technology Collection at the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive, 16mm), with a demonstration of a rare 16mm Vitaphone sound-on-disc film projector.
Presenter: Dino Everett (USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive).
“City Harvest” (ca. 1943, 8 mins., preserved by the Academy, 35mm) from the Academy’s War Film Collection. Chicago residents from diverse neighborhoods grow victory gardens and participate in the war effort in factories and other ways.
Presenter: Heather Linville (Academy Film Archive).
“What About Thad?” (BYU/LDS Motion Picture Studio, 1973, 8 mins.), produced for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, plus a rare LDS homefront commercial.
Presenter: Hadrian Belove (The Cinefamily).
“Help! My Snowman’s Burning Down” (Carson Davidson, 1964, 10 mins., preserved by the Academy, 35mm), an Oscar-nominated satire on the Madison Avenue image of the world through advertising.
Presenter: Brian Meacham (Academy Film Archive).
An excerpt from “Don’t Bank on Amerika” (Peter Biskind, 1970, 5 mins., digital), about the burning of the Bank of America in Isla Vista, California.
Presenters: Ross Melnick and Charles Wolfe (UC Santa Barbara Film Archive).
“Mission to Mongo,” postcards from the streets of Chinatown (Jim Hoberman, 1978, 16mm, 3 mins., preserved by Anthology Film Archives with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation and the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts).
Presenter: Dan Streible (NYU/Academy Film Scholar).
Image of “Mission to Mongo” courtesy of Anthology Film Archives.
An excerpt from “Naked Yoga” (Paul Cordsen, 1974, 5 mins., preserved by the Academy, digital), Oscar-nominated documentary short.
Presenter: Ed Carter (Academy Film Archive).
“Exploratorium” (Jon Boorstin, 1974, 15 mins., preserved by the Academy, 35mm), an Oscar-nominated documentary short exploring the noted San Francisco science museum.
Presenters: Liz Keim (Exploratorium) and filmmaker Jon Boorstin.

The Real Indies: A Close Look at Orphan Films