Friday 3 July 2020

Streaming on Kanopy, DocPlay and Prime Video - SAVING BRINTON (Tommy Haines, Andrew Sherburne, USA, 2017)

               SAVING BRINTON is a highly enjoyable documentary about a collector, or probably more correctly an accumulator called Michael Zahs (pictured left). 
In the early 1980s he discovered the ‘Brinton Collection’. Frank and his wife Indiana Brinton were show people in rural parts of Iowa from the 1890s and to about 1909. Their collection had practically everything they’d accumulated from that period. Old movies, the projectors they’d used to show them, slides for ‘sing-alongs’ or for advertising, account books, catalogues of films available to them in that period and more. 
               Zahs is a retired history teacher in Ainsworth, a small (c. 600 people) town in Iowa. He wasn’t a cinema scholar or archaeologist, just someone who had a sense that objects from the past had stories to tell, and he guessed there were lots of story to be told from all this Brinton ‘junk’. He must have had a very understanding wife – he brought all this disorganised collection home the week he was married, and most of it crowded the house for about 35 years until in the early 2010s he managed to get some people interested enough to check it out.
             And there were real treasures therein, including the discovery of an unknown Meliés film,  Bouquet des Illusions or Triple Headed Lady.  Click here to watch it on YouTube  One of the highlights of SAVING BRINTON is the moment when Zahs is showing his little (45 sec.) film to Serge Bromberg of Lobster Films, a Meliés expert. Bromberg’s joy, his ecstasy when he realises that he is seeing a piece of Meliés that he thought was lost is emotional to watch in itself.  And so is the pleasure Zahs has in seeing that this has meaning to someone.  

                For Cinema Ritrovato tragics, we then have the thrill of seeing this being premiered in a Piazza screening in 2016. (Though we do have to have a bit of one of Gianluca Farinelli’s introductions.)  Zahs is a person who has such delight in sharing things historical with people and that delight makes this documentary a real pleasure.  

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