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Program National Film Preservation Board


In August 1994, Librarian of Congress, James H. Billington, announced public-private sector agreement on a new national strategy to save American films and make them more accessible to the public. This action plan, Redefining Film Preservation, prepared in consultation with the Librarian's advisory group, the National Film Preservation Board, was the product of six months of negotiation among archivists, educators, filmmakers, and indu stry executives. The plan recommends several key actions including:

  • Realigning preservation policies to underscore the importance of low-temperature, low-humidity storage in retarding film deterioration, thus buying time for restoration projects and providing a more cost-effective method of film conservation.
  • Increasing film availability for education and public exhibition.
  • Developing public-private partnerships to restore key films, share preservation information, and repatriate "lost" American films in foreign archives.
  • Creating a new Federally-chartered foundation to raise money to preserve newsreels, documentaries, independent and avant-garde films, socially significant amateur footage, and other motion pictures of cultural and historical importance that will not s urvive without public intervention. The foundation, modeled on the very successful National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, would be eligible to match private donations with federal funds.

The plan, which builds on Film Preservation 1993, the Librarian's fact-finding study published last year, was submitted to Congress, as directed by the National Film Preservation Act of 1992. Copies are available for purchase from the Govern ment Printing Office (by phoning 202/512-1800 publication stock number 030-000-00259-8) and will be available on the Internet in the near future. Note: Copies are no longer available for purchase. The published document includes discussion papers by the Librarian's five planning groups.

Dr. Billington expressed his belief that the collaborative planning process, unprecedented in American film preservation, signals a new era of cooperation among the industry, archives and educational community. "We need private support to achieve bro ad public goals....To redefine film preservation, we must redefine the relationships among archives, the entertainment industry, the educational community, and the general public and find ways to forge a widely beneficial program."

The Librarian of Congress is now working with the National Film Preservation Board to implement the plan.

Participants in the planning process:

  • Gray Ainsworth, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
  • Mary Lea Bandy, Museum of Modern Art
  • John Belton, Society for Cinema Studies
  • Allen Daviau, American Society of Cinematographers
  • Raffaele Donato, The Film Foundation
  • Jean Firstenberg, American Film Institute
  • Peter Gardiner, Warner Bros.
  • Douglas Gomery, University of Maryland
  • Stephen Gong, Pacific Film Archive
  • Tom Gunning, Northwestern University
  • Robert Heiber, Chace Productions
  • William Humphrey, Sony Pictures Entertainment
  • Karen Ishizuka, Japanese American National Museum
  • Fay Kanin, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences
  • Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Tonight
  • Scott Martin, Paramount Pictures
  • Roger Mayer, Turner Entertainment
  • William Murphy, National Archives
  • Brian O'Doherty, National Endowment for the Arts
  • David W. Packard, Stanford Theatre Foundation
  • Richard Prelinger, Prelinger Associates and Home Box Office
  • John Ptak, National Center for Film and Video Preservation
  • James Reilly, Image Permanence Institute
  • Edward Richmond, UCLA Film and Television Archive
  • Robert Rosen, UCLA Department of Theater, Film and Television
  • Milton Shefter, Miljoy Enterprises
  • Karan Sheldon, Northeast Historic Film
  • George Stevens, Jr., Independent Producer
  • Jayne Wallace, American Movie Classics
  • James Watters, Universal City Studios

A limited number of complimentary copies of the film preservation plan remain. To obtain a complimentary copy of the film preservation plan, email your request (including address) to: