Monday, April 12, 2010

Orphans 7

The 7th Orphan Film Symposium ran this weekend, April 7 - 10, at the SVA Theatre in Chelsea (right by my apartment!), and it was just what I needed. The program can explain it better than I can:

The Orphan Film Symposium marks its seventh biennial gathering of archivists, scholars, preservationists, curators, collectors, and media artists devoted to saving, studying, and screening neglected moving images. NYU Tisch School of the Arts and Department of Cinema Studies host Orphans 7 in the SVA Theatre (333 W. 23rd Street). More than 80 presenters from 17 countries address film repatriation; mobility, distribution, and travel; national, regional, local, and transnational cinemas; and neglected archival material that sheds light on international aspects of history and archiving. See more than 80 works (film, video, and digital) dating from 1894 to 2010.

This was the first full festival season I was missing out on and, while I'm in love with what I'm doing now, it was kind of sad to see festivals come and go without being a part of it. I didn't even get screeners this year, and couldn't commit to Tribeca because of my crazy grad school schedule! BUT. Orphans snuck up on me and ended up offering the best of both worlds and a chance for me to get some festival work. (I worked in the projection booth doing audio and lighting stuff.)

Opening night was a retirement party for our sweet first semester professor, Duane. His class was a like a warm cup of tea and a nice hug in the midst of our tumultuous welcoming to the MIAP program. I am also pretty sure he has actually found the Fountain because we all thought he was a good 25 years younger than he actually is. Like... it's crazy. That was followed by the opening night reception, a chance to wear a dress, reunite with all the interesting people I've met over the last eight months and pimp out the big project I'm working on (that I will blog about eventually, I promise). The opening night screenings included a Kinsey Institute stag film with live accompaniment (interesting...) and Film ist. a girl & a gun, an experimental film by Gustav Deutsch.
Not for everyone, but a good example of how archival film can be used.

Also, my friends were there. Ashley and Ben (below - aren't they cute?), John Migliore, Eric Kohn, my MIAP class, the second year MIAP class who we never get to see anymore because they're busy with thesis stuff and getting jobs, and the UCLA archiving and preservation students.
On Day 2, Paula Felix-Didier (MIAP grad who none of us will ever live up to) talked about discovering Metropolis and the Museo del Cine in Bueno Aires, and dinner was held at Pier 59. With B gone, I never go down to the piers anymore, and I forgot how nice they are. We ate outside with this amazing view at dusk (my favorite time of day) and it was really quite perfect.
I was in the booth for the rest of the night watching fun animated films and heavily degraded 1920s silent B-westerns (actually I don't remember when that happened but it was awesome). Orphans also shared SVA with the Gen Art Film Fest, and I found it kind of hilarious watching the hip celebrity crowd mesh with the archivist crowd... and also a poetic metaphor for my career.
Day 3 (or night 3 because I had to work at MoMA during the day) was my favorite. Jonas Mekas ("the godfather of American avant-garde cinema") introduced The Cry of Jazz, a 1959 film about race and jazz music, and filmmaker Edward Bland gave a Q&A after. That was followed by some very rare footage of the Velvet Underground rehearsing and Andy Warhol's Uptight #3 (Velvet Underground on the set of the show Open End) with live accompaniment by T. Griffin. I've always loved the Velvet Underground, but they served as my almost constant playlist this winter in particular, so this was extra cool for me. I took some pictures from the booth. (How cool is that shot of John Cale eating a banana?! I also love the last one of Andy Warhol laying on the floor during his interview.)
Saturday was the last day and it was long, tiring and so fun. The program covered everything from promotion and advertising films to segregation to Henri Cartier-Bresson's first film. I LOVED a 1958 amateur film by Scott Nixon called The Augustas, which you can read about here and a pretty 8mm film with shots of a pool and flowers that I wish I could remember the name of.
Lunch was at the non-veggie-friendly Dallas BBQ, which everyone but me seemed to enjoy, but a lively street fair was going on outside the venue, filling Chelsea with the sound of music and the smell of fried things. I am starting to remember why I love New York.
The second year MIAP students got to present films they shot/worked on/discovered that night and the whole thing ended with "The Ascension" - a portion of the 1908 Pathé Film The Life and Passion of Christ. Well, officially ended anyway. The after party at Trailer Park is another story for another time...