Monday 19 September 2016

Digitizations and Restorations (8) - New Zealand discoveries now on DVD

From the US of A I finally discover the existence  of what is described thus:This 3-1/4 hour DVD celebrates the largest international collaboration in decades to preserve and present American films found abroad. It draws from an extraordinary cache of nitrate prints that had been safeguarded in New Zealand and virtually unseen in decades. Through a partnership between the New Zealand Film Archive and American film archives, the NFPF arranged for 176 films to be shipped to the United States for preservation to 35mm film. 

Treasures New Zealand brings some of these major discoveries to DVD. None of the films have been presented before on video; in fact, none were even thought to exist just four years ago.

Treasures New Zealand not only resurrects lost works by major directors—John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, and Mabel Normand—but also samples the variety of American pictures exported abroad and saved through this project. Industrial films, news stories, cartoons, travelogues, serial episodes, previews, comedies—Treasures New Zealand samples them all. The line-up features:
·         John Ford’s Upstream (1927) and a preview for his lost Strong Boy (1929)
·         The White Shadow (1924), 3 reels from the first surviving feature credited to Alfred Hitchcock, the assistant director, art director, writer, and editor
·         Won in a Cupboard (1914), the first surviving film directed by and starring Mabel Normand
·         Lyman H. Howe’s Famous Ride on a Runaway Train (1921), reunited with its sound-effects disc for the first time in decades
·         Stetson’s Birth of a Hat (ca. 1920)
·         The Love Charm (1928), a South Seas romance filmed in two-color Technicolor by Ray Rennahan
·         Andy's Stump Speech (1924), directed by Norman Taurog, following funny-paper favorite Andy Gump on the campaign trail
·         The cartoon Happy-Go-Luckies (1923), 5 newsreel stories, and an episode from Dolly of the Dailies (1914) in which the unstoppable newspaperwoman saves the day and gets the scoop

That films lost in the United States came to be found 7,000 miles away speaks volumes about the international popularity of American movies from the very start. By 1926, America made 90% of all commercial pictures screened around the world. When distributors sent prints abroad, they expected that theatrical prints would be shipped back or destroyed at the end of their run. In New Zealand, a last stop on the exhibition circuit, some prints fell into the hands of eager collectors and ended up at the NZFA. Today hundreds of American movies from the silent era that were not saved in the U.S. survive abroad.
The Treasures New Zealand films can be shared today thanks to the stewardship of the New Zealanders, the preservation work directed by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, and UCLA Film & Television Archive, and the contributions of hundreds of donors. The National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Argyros Family Foundation underwrote the production. Net proceeds will support further film preservation.

So let’s savor the discoveries, giving a round of applause to the New Zealand Film Archive for sharing its treasures and the American archives for preserving them, and hope that this exciting collaboration spearheaded by the NFPF blazes the trail for many more to come.

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