Orphan Film Symposium

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Director of the Orphan Film Symposium, Dan Streible, associate professor of cinema studies at NYU, and associate director of the Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program, discusses the 2010 Orphan Film Symposium, the seventh biennial gathering of archivists, scholars, preservationists, curators, collectors, and media artists devoted to saving, studying, and screening neglected films.


Dan Streible

Comments [5]

ayse from

thanks for post

Apr. 01 2010 09:10 PM
Dan Streible from New York

"Why is nitrate-base film the best? I thought it deteriorates and acetate-base film is better."

Nitrate-based film stock (most all 35mm film used before 1951) is notable for two things: its highly combustible quality (once it catches fire, it is impossible to extinguish) and its beautiful, luminous image quality.

That's why I said nitrate was the "best" for image quality. For safety, not so much.

Acetate, which replaced it in the 1950s (and earlier for nontheatrical and small-gauge film), doesn't burn out of control like nitrate cellulose, but neither does it have the silvery shimmer of nitrate.

Most film prints today have their emulsion/image set on a polyester base, a material introduced for motion-picture film more than 20 years ago.

Apr. 01 2010 01:09 AM
Dan Streible from New York

"talk about Killer of Sheep" Yes!

One of the best orphan film stories.

Charles Burnett's feature film KILLER OF SHEEP, completed in 1977, never got theatrical distribution. But it gathered a great critical reputation among the few who saw it. UCLA Film and Television Archives worked closely with Burnett to restore the image and sound to the surviving elements. At the 2001 Orphan Film Symposium Burnett and critic Jonathan Rosenbaum presented UCLA's magnificent 35mm restoration. The work, supervised by preservationist Ross Lipman, nearly equaled the great artistry of the film itself.

However, it was not until 2007 that Milestone Film and Video (the high-quality DVD and theatrical distributor) could release the film. Even after is physical restoration by UCLA, KILLER OF SHEEP was orphaned by copyright laws. Burnett and Milestone 'cleared' ever musical recording used in the soundtrack, but for one. A music licensing company would not budget on the asking price for the rights to use part of one song heard near the end of the film. Finally, Dennis Doros at Milestone and Charles Burnett decided to replace the un-licensable song with another recording -- one which Burnett revealed he had originally wanted to use anyway.

Apr. 01 2010 12:55 AM
Richard Johnston from Upper west side

Why is nitrate-base film the best? I thought it deteriorates and acetate-base film is better.

Mar. 31 2010 12:47 PM
Beth from NYC

Can the guest please talk about Killer of Sheep and how it was recently rescued & released?

Mar. 31 2010 12:45 PM

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