May 11, 2015 (REVISED June 2, 2015) Library's Packard Campus Presents "Mostly Lost" Films
Fourth Annual Cinema Identification Workshop
Press Contact: Sheryl Cannady (202) 707-6456
Public Contact: Rachel Parker (202) 707-0934
Contact: Request ADA accommodations five business days in advance at (202) 707-6362 or [email protected]
The Library of Congress is inviting scholars, archivists and film enthusiasts to attend a free workshop, “Mostly Lost,” to screen and identify silent and early sound films that have been unidentified, under-identified or misidentified. A unique opportunity for film sleuths to find clues and solve riddles in a state-of-the-art theater, the workshop will take place at the Packard Campus in Culpeper, Virginia, Thursday, June 11 through Saturday, June 13.
The fourth in an ongoing series, “Mostly Lost” will tap the collective knowledge of the participants to obtain as much information as possible about the unknown or little-known films. During the screenings, attendees are encouraged to talk in the theater, calling out names of actors, locations, car models, production companies or anything else they recognize about each film.
All genres of films will be shown, including comedies, dramas and actuality films. Ben Model, Andrew Simpson and Philip Carli will provide live musical accompaniment during the workshop and evening presentations. The workshop will feature unidentified films from the Library’s collections as well as from other archives, including the George Eastman House, the UCLA Film & Television Archive, EYE Film Instituut Nederland in Amsterdam, Cinémathèque Française, Royal Belgian Filmarchive, Gosfilmofond, Wissenschaftliche Filmarchivarin in Berlin, Lobster Film Archive, and the Newsfilm Library at the University of South Carolina.
Of the possible 111 titles screened at the workshop in 2014, 35 films—31 percent—were identified during the event. Through further research conducted after the workshop, an additional 27 titles have been identified in conjunction with the Association of Moving Image Archivists Nitrate Committee’s Flickr page.
Daytime events are open only to registered workshop participants. Register for the workshop at www.culpepertheatre.org/mostly-lost/ External. The deadline for registration is Monday, June 1. For more information, email [email protected].
The evening screening on June 11 at the Packard Campus is free, but the screenings on June 12 and 13 at the State Theatre in Culpeper are subject to a $10 admission charge each performance. All evening screenings are open to the general public. In case of inclement weather, call the theater reservation line no more than three hours before showtime to verify status. For further information on the theater and film schedule, visit www.loc.gov/avconservation/theater/.
The Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation is a state-of-the-art facility funded as a gift to the nation by the Packard Humanities Institute. The Packard Campus is the site where the nation’s library acquires, preserves and provides access to the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of motion pictures, television programs, radio broadcasts and sound recordings (www.loc.gov/avconservation/). The Packard Campus is home to more than 7 million collection items. Many of the Library’s rich resources can be accessed through its website at www.loc.gov.
Thursday, June 11
8:30 a.m. — Tour of the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation
12:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. — Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations:
The Mystery of the Second Camera: Multiple Editions of American Silent Features – Presented by David Pierce, Media History Digital Library
Many films from the silent-film era were photographed using two cameras, with the explanation that the second camera was to create a negative for the foreign market. Reviewing standard production practice of the time, this presentation questions that assumption. The talk will demonstrate differences between release versions, present alternatives for the purpose of the second camera, and some of the implications for authenticity, restoration and documentation.
The American Silent Newsreel: An Introduction – Presented by Greg Wilsbacher
Forty-three years after the publication of Ray Fielding’s “The American Newsreel, 1911-1967,” film scholars still have added little to the history of American silent newsreels. Most work has focused on the more mature sound newsreels primarily because they survive in much greater numbers as part of defined corporate libraries. In contrast, most newsreels of the silent era came and went without leaving behind intact corporate records of film or paper. What can be learned of their operations by necessity must be gleaned from trade magazines, newspapers and other period records. This presentation will review the current state of knowledge regarding silent newsreels, showing surviving samples (Selznick News, Fox News, Pathé News, etc.) and providing an overview of an exceptional surviving paper archive that documents the activity of Fox News.
The Berkow Collection: Finding Lost Films in a Private Collection – Presented by Jon Mirsalis
Legendary film collector Gordon Berkow died in 2004, leaving behind a 2000-plus-title collection of 16 mm films that has recently been recovered. Berkow began collecting in the 1950s and acquired hundreds of old tinted originals of silent films. Many of these do not exist in any other archive. He was also part of the trio who purchasing the collection of the late Robert Youngson, acquiring many camera negative printdowns of films for which the negatives had subsequently been destroyed. This presentation will review the history of the collection, highlight some rare, recently discovered treasures, and provide details on some of the previously lost films that are now being digitized by the Library.
7:30 p.m. – Silent double feature from the Packard Campus archives, showcasing silent-film star Norma Talmadge, with live accompaniment on the Walker theater organ. The event is free and open to the public.
“The Moth” (1917)
This is a story about a woman who married young and never took life seriously. After realizing how empty her life is, she begins to turn her life around, but faces many hardships. Directed by Edward Joset, the film stars Talmadge, Hassard Short, Eugene O’Brien and Adolphe Menjou. The last reels of the “The Moth” have been lost due to nitrate deterioration so it survived only in an incomplete form. Ben Model will provide accompaniment on the Walker theater organ.
“The Only Woman” (1924)
This rarely seen film is a story about a father desperate to see his son viewed in society as anything but a drunkard so he pairs him with a woman (played by Talmadge) who will do anything to make him well. Directed by Sidney Olcott, the film also stars Eugene O’Brien, and Edwards Davis. Andrew Simpson will provide musical accompaniment on the Walker theater organ.
Friday, June 12
9 a.m. - 5:15 p.m. — Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations:
Reclaiming “Lost” Films Using Copyright Fragments – Presented by Dana Driskel
Though most silent films will never be seen again, some remarkably useful images lurk in the Library of Congress copyright fragment collection. Unlike the earlier-era paper prints, the paper fragments give only glimpses of the original productions. Yet some contain enough discreet images to allow reconstructions. This presentation introduces the scope of the collection and how lost films can be reclaimed from oblivion. Examples from the American Film Manufacturing Company will be screened.
‘Mostly Lost’ Silent Comedy Actress Lois Scott (1900-1924)
Lois Scott’s name is nowhere to be found in even the most detailed accounts of American silent comedy, a consequence of the lost or long-term unavailability of nearly all her films. However, she had been a member of Johnny Ray’s movie comedy troupe by age 15; rose during her first year in Hollywood from a Fox Sunshine bathing beauty to playing female leads in Clyde Cook’s Fox comedies; and was feted in the press as “a comedienne of the first rank” who worked in over three dozen two-reelers and eight features. Employing previously unavailable materials, including Scott’s personal scrapbook, Robert J. Kiss reconstructs the actress’ frenetically paced life story, while highlighting the pleasures and pitfalls of relying on press clippings, studio stills and a very small collection of surviving films as research tools.
7:30 p.m. – Joint program by the Library and the State Theatre
“Behind the Scenes: Restoring Chaplin’s Essanay Comedies”
Serge Bromberg, film preservationist and founder of Paris-based Lobster Films, will present a program detailing the efforts to return Charlie Chaplin’s second year of film work—when he left Mack Sennett’s Keystone Studios to produce comedies for the Essanay Film Company—back to original form. Comedy shorts on the program include “The Bank” and “A Night in the Show,” both from 1915, with live musical accompaniment by Bromberg. The screening will be held at the State Theatre in downtown Culpeper, Virginia (305 S. Main Street). Open to the public, this is a ticketed event (www.culpepertheatre.org External).
Saturday, June 13
9 a.m. – 5:15 p.m. — Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations:
Visiting With Roach Royalty
In the late 1970s through mid-1980s, TV/video producer Jim Kerkhoff often traveled from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles on business. Being a longtime Laurel and Hardy buff, he took advantage of these trips to locate and visit with former Hal Roach Studio employees, developing close friendships with several of them. In this presentation, Kerkhoff will discuss his experiences along with little-known tidbits about the studio’s film history shared with him.
Do You Hide Aliens And Other Government Secrets There?
Have questions about what happens to a film when it is donated to the Library of Congress? Wonder why the Packard Campus is located in Culpeper, Virginia? Curious about how the Library obtains films from foreign archives? Baffled by how the people who work in the Packard Campus lab never appear to age? This panel will focus solely on answering the questions that “Mostly Lost” attendees most want to know. Packard Campus staff will be available to answer questions and provide insights into this state-of-the-art collections and conservation facility.
7:30 p.m. – Joint program by the Library and the State Theatre
“Sherlock Holmes” (1916)With musical accompaniment by Philip Carli, this is the East Coast premiere of a long-lost silent film treasure. Originally released on May 15, 1916 by the Essanay Film Company, “Sherlock Holmes” stars William Gillette, the man who created and established himself as the world’s foremost interpreter of Holmes on stage. Following its initial release, the film faded from view and had been counted among the “lost” films of the silent era. That changed last year when a complete dupe negative of the French edition of the film was identified in the vaults of the Cinémathèque Française. Since that monumental discovery, the Cinémathèque and the San Francisco Silent Film Festival have collaborated on a complete restoration of the historic film.
Among the film’s highlights is the first cinematic meeting of the great detective and Moriarty, the Emperor of Crime. Will Holmes rescue Alice Faulkner from the clutches of the scheming Larrabees? Can Watson see through the deceptions of his mysterious visitors? Why does Holmes willingly enter the trap of the Stepney Gas Chamber?
Prior to the screening, Robert Byrne, film restorer and San Francisco Silent Film Festival board president, will introduce the film and describe the meticulous process of reconstructing and restoring it. He will discuss the technical, historical and curatorial aspects of returning “Sherlock Holmes” to a state as close as possible to that experienced by audiences almost 100 years ago. Open to the public, this ticketed show will be held at the State Theater in downtown Culpeper, Virginia.
Immediately following the screening is a closing-night reception for registered workshop attendees only, which will be held in the State’s Black Box Theatre.