May 23, 2019 Library's Cinematic Quest for "Mostly Lost" Films

Eighth Annual Silent Film Identification Workshop, June 12-15

Press Contact: Sheryl Cannady (202) 707-6456
Public Contact: Rachel Del Gaudio (202) 707-0934
Website: Mostly Lost Workshop

Scholars, archivists and film enthusiasts attend the "Mostly Lost" film festival at the Library of Congress Packard Campus to screen and identify silent and early films that have been unidentified, June 12, 2015. Photo by Shawn Miller.

The Library of Congress will once again host a cadre of scholars, archivists and film enthusiasts on a cinematic hunt to find clues that will lead to the identification of unidentified, under-identified or misidentified silent and early sound films at the eighth annual “Mostly Lost” workshop. The workshop will take place at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation in Culpeper, Va., beginning with an opening reception the evening of Wednesday, June 12, and continuing through Saturday, June 15.

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. Andrew Simpson, Philip Carli and Ben Model will provide live musical accompaniment during the workshop and at evening presentations of newly preserved silent films.

The workshop will feature unidentified films from the Library’s collections as well as from other archives, including the George Eastman Museum, EYE Filmmuseum, Museum of Modern Art, UCLA and Lobster Films.

Of the 187 unidentified titles screened at the workshop in 2018, 56 films — 30 percent — were identified during the event. Through further research conducted in collaboration with the Association of Moving Image Archivists Nitrate Committee’s Flickr page, an additional 24 titles were identified after the workshop. 

Events are open only to registered workshop participants. For more information, email mostlylost@loc.gov. 

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 8 million collection items. 

The Library of Congress is the world’s largest library, offering access to the creative record of the United States — and extensive materials from around the world — both on-site and online. It is the main research arm of the U.S. Congress and the home of the U.S. Copyright Office. Explore collections, reference services and other programs and plan a visit at loc.gov; access the official site for U.S. federal legislative information at congress.gov; and register creative works of authorship at copyright.gov.

Workshop Schedule

Wednesday, June 12

6 p.m. - 10 p.m.
An opening reception will be held at Mountain Run Winery, located about five minutes from downtown Culpeper.  There will be pizza and popcorn available via 716 Slice, wine tastings and a film screening under the stars. The screening will begin at dusk and the title of the film is to be announced. The winery and food truck will be open beginning at 6 p.m. and run until the activities conclude at 10 p.m.

Thursday, June 13

8:30 a.m.  Tour of the Packard Campus for Audio Visual Conservation

9:15 a.m. - 11:15 a.m. (for those not on the tour)

The Lambs Club Films — Presented by Robert Tevis and George Willeman
The Lambs Club, founded in 1874, is America’s oldest theatrical club. In the early 1930s, the club and Columbia Pictures Corporation produced a series of two-reel comedies. Little was known about these films until they were rediscovered at the Library of Congress, and the Performing Arts Library in New York conducted further research on the Lambs Archive. This presentation will examine the history behind the films and present one of the comedies at the Mostly Lost workshop.

Robin Hood: Lost in Wisconsin, Found in N.J. — Presented by Tom Meyers
This program will center on the Fort Lee Film Commission’s involvement with legendary film collector Al Dettlaff in 2003, when he visited for the first public screening of the once lost Edison’s “Frankenstein.” During that two-week stay in New Jersey, Al talked about the only existing print of the 1912 “Robin Hood” shot at Éclair Studio in Fort Lee, which was part of his collection. The hilarious story of how he sent “Robin Hood” piece by piece through the U.S. mail in 2004 is riveting.

 12:30 p.m. - 5:15 p.m.  Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations: 

Mack Sennett — A Tribute — Presented by Dave Glass
Brent Walker and Dave Glass present an affectionate look at the history of Mack Sennett and his studios, including location shots, a studio “tour,” rare clips and info insights as well as a reconstruction of a “mostly lost” Sennett film. 

Mostly Lost — The Early Theatres — Presented by Gary Dunaway
This presentation expands the “Mostly Lost” concept to examine early theater chains and how their movie houses have fared over the years. They have almost invariably been destroyed or repurposed, often in quite interesting ways. The program focuses on a family owned/operated chain of theaters in the suburbs of Chicago from the 1910s to 1930s. It traces them from humble beginnings in small vaudeville theaters to building and managing more grandiose movie palaces.   Labor strikes, theater bombing, Chicago crime and Nazi Germany are also part of the story.

Find that Gorilla! Lost Ape Films from the Silent Era and Beyond — Presented by Kelly Robinson
The film concept of fearsome gorillas began long before King Kong in 1933. In this presentation, writer and researcher Kelly Robinson will trace the origin and history of gorilla flicks by exploring films that are now lost or partially lost, including pioneering ape/man transformation scenes in the early teens, the trend in rampaging gorilla movies of the 1920s, jungle exploitation films and foreign King Kong knockoffs. Included will be plenty of seldom-seen stills as well as footage from rare and fragmentary films.

 8 p.m. — Silent film screening of “THE WINNING OF SALLY TEMPLE” (1917). Philip Carli will provide musical accompaniment for the silent film. The program is at the Packard Campus and is for registered attendees only.

“THE WINNING OF SALLY TEMPLE” (1917) — When Lady Pamela’s inheritance is threatened by the arrival of the guardian who she has never met, she hires beloved actress Sally Temple (Fannie Ward) to impersonate her. This lavish comedy-drama is directed by George Melford and also features Jack Dean, Walter Long, Paul Weigel and Horace Carpenter.

Friday, June 14

 9 a.m. - 5:15 p.m. — Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations: 

Two-Color Kodachrome: The Forgotten History of Kodak’s First Motion Picture Color Process — Presented by James Layton
The Eastman Kodak Company’s two-color Kodachrome was one of the richest and most lifelike motion picture color processes of the 1910s and 1920s. Despite more than 15 years of development and the backing of one of Hollywood’s most ambitious studios, the story of this color process has slipped into obscurity, overshadowed by Technicolor and its later namesake — the vibrant color reversal film that was introduced in 1935 for 16 mm film and later for still photography. Illustrated with stunning frame enlargements from surviving nitrate prints, this presentation draws its story from a wealth of untapped research materials and firsthand accounts, including George Eastman’s personal papers, Kodak corporate files, Twentieth Century-Fox studio records and a close study of the surviving camera technology and film prints. 

Rediscovering Movie History at “Mostly Lost”: The Case of the Early Selig Polyscope Films, 1898-1902 — Presented by Robert James Kiss
Each time that attendees of “Mostly Lost” identify a movie still, put a name to a performer or determine a film’s original title, the resulting increase in knowledge has an immediate transformative effect on the artifact in question. Footage that may have lurked in anonymous obscurity in the bowels of a collection for decades can suddenly be cataloged precisely, reconsidered in its proper historical context and related to other works of the same distributor, producer, director or star. In July 2017, due to a combination of unique perforations, specific subject matter and reused sets and backdrops, Robert J. Kiss was able to suggest a link between 19 mystifying shorts that had been shown over the course of six years of “Mostly Lost” and to identify these collectively as some of the earliest surviving films of the Selig Polyscope Company of Chicago. In this presentation, he will (re)introduce all 19 shorts dating from 1898 to 1902, placing particular emphasis on how the act of identifying these works has transformed them from quirky-but-unfathomable archival holdings into a world-class resource for cinema historians.

8 p.m. — Silent film screening of “PENROD AND SAM” (1923).  Ben Model will provide musical accompaniment. The program will be held at the Packard Campus for registered attendees only.

“PENROD AND SAM” (1923) Based on of the beloved Booth Tarkinton’s novel, this film highlights the friendships, dalliances and hardships of childhood. Directed by William Beaudine, the film stars Ben Alexander, Joe Butterworth, Buddy Messinger, Rockliffe Fellowes and Cameo the dog. 

Saturday, June 16

 9 a.m. — 5:15 p.m. — Screenings of unidentified films from archives around the world as well as these presentations: 

 Blazing the Trail: The O’Kalems in Ireland — Presented by Peter Flynn
Using rarely seen images, film and audio recordings, “BLAZING THE TRAIL” recounts the adventures of Kalem Film Company’s pioneering filmmakers Sidney Olcott and Gene Gauntier in Ireland in the early 1910s. The presentation describes how they made films without electricity, using locals as actors; how they provoked the condemnation of a local priest; and ran afoul of the British authorities. It is also the story of two of cinema’s earliest mavericks, of the people and culture they immortalized on film and of the emerging Hollywood system that would ultimately eclipse them.   

The Lost Negatives of Georges Méliès — Presented by Serge Bromberg
On a day of despair in 1923, George Méliès decided to dig a hole in his garden and burn the 520 negatives of all the films he had shot between 1896 and 1912. Méliès’ dreams vanished in smoke and only restorations from a few surviving used and mediocre prints allow us today to see his fantasies that made the world dream. Until one day, a letter and a few Méliès negatives were suddenly rediscovered. How is it possible? Where did the negatives come from? Méliès liked magic so be prepared for a very bizarre story.

8 p.m. — Silent film screening of “DANGEROUS MAID” (1923) with Andrew Simpson providing musical accompaniment. The program will be held at the Packard Campus for registered attendees only.

“DANGEROUS MAID” (1923) — Set in 17th century revolutionary England, the film revolves around a family of rebels (Constance Talmadge and Marjorie Daw) fighting against the authorities. This comedy-drama also stars Conway Tearle, Morgan Wallace and Charles Gerrard.

Immediately following the screening is a closing reception at the Library of Congress Packard Campus for registered workshop attendees only.

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PR 19-057
2019-05-23
ISSN 0731-3527