February 1, 1995

Short Takes, February 1995

Docs Added to National Film Registry

Three documentaries were among the 25 films added to the Library of Congress' National Film Registry in November: Robert Flaherty, Richard Leacock, and Helen Van Dongen's Louisiana Story (1948), which juxtaposes a young Cajun boy's everyday life with an oil derrick's probe for petroleum in the Louisiana swamps; Flaherty and F.W. Murnau's Tabu (1931), about the love of a Tahitian fisherman for a young woman whose body has been consecrated to the gods; and Abraham Zapruder's famous 1963 home movie of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington noted, "The films we choose are not necessarily the 'best ' American films ever made, nor the most famous. But they are films that continue to have cultural, historical, or aesthetic significance and, just as important, represent many other films deserving of recognition."

Plans have been made by the Library of Congress to team up with the film's copyright holders next April for a nine-city national tour of selected titles from the National Film Registry, with future plans to expand the tour to all 50 states in accordance with the new national film preservation program. Titled Redefining Film Preservation, this action plan was developed in August 1994 after consultation with the Library of Congress' advisory group, the National Film Preservation Board, and six months of negotiation among archivists, educators, filmmakers, and industry executives in an effort to coordinate film preservation activities nationwide.

In accordance with the 1988 National Film Preservation Act's mission, the plan recommends several key actions, including:

  • Increasing film availability for education and public exhibition. Independent filmmakers are encouraged to deposit documentaries to the archives.
  • Developing public-private partnerships to restore key films, share preservation in­formation, and repatriate "lost" American films in foreign archives.
  • Emphasizing the importance of low-tem­perature, low-humidity storage to ward off film deterioration.
  • 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. The foundation would be eligible to match private donations with federal funds and would be modeled on the successful National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, which Congress created in 1984 with a $100,000 grant and which now receives $7.5 million annually from the government.

Billington is now working with the National Film Preservation Board to implement the plan. To receive a copy of the plan or information about how to archive documentaries, contact Steve Leggett, phone (202) 707-5912, fax (202) 707-2371, e-mail leggett@mail.loc.gov.

Sports Archive Acquired

Forty million feet of footage of the great sports legends and moments of the 20th century were recently acquired by Action Sports Adventures when the company bought the Sports Film Library collection. Featuring 200 half-hour Telesport Digest shows, which were broadcast weekly between 1950 and 1966, the collection also includes 500 additional shows covering historical college football, basketball, golf, and other sports.

ASA also recently purchased the Orra McMurry track and field collection containing 40 years of Olympic, world, and U.S. record-breaking performances spanning eras from Jesse Owens to Carl Lewis. ASA's archival collection contains original negatives available to clients requiring quality transfer elements. For information, call Jill Schiffman a t (212) 721-2800.

Doc Truth or Dare

As part of an ongoing effort to serve our membership better, the IDA would like to know if there are any documentary film­ or video makers out there who would be interested in showing a five- to ten­ minute clip as part of an evening of work-in-progress screenings in Los Angeles.  Several members have expressed a desire to get feedback from their peers. If you want to participate, please leave a message at (310) 598-3098.

CableACEs Announced

The CableAce Awards, honoring the best cable television programming broadcast between September 1, 1993, and August 31, 1994, were handed out by the National Academy of Cable Programming at a ceremony on January 15 and televised live on TNT.

The winners in the documentary categories were: for directing a documentary special, Eitan Weinreich, director, National Geographic Explorer: Life on the Line (TBS); for environmental/ nature documentary special, National Geographic Explorer: Antarctica: Life in the Freezer (TBS), Michael Rosenfeld, executive producer, Alastair Fothergill, producer; for documentary special, America Undercover: Gang War: Bangin' in Little Rock (HBO), Sheila Nevins, executive producer, Alan Levin, Daphne Pinkerson, producers, Marc Levin, producer-director; for documentary series, Biography (A&E), Michael Cascio, Cynthia Fenneman, Gary H. Grossman, Rob Roy, Rob Weller, ex­ecutive producers, Brooke Johnston, Abbe Raven, executive series producers, John Arrowsmith, senior producer, Jean Louise Codianni, Elizabeth B. Klein, Ruben Norte, producers; for international documentary series, Science Frontiers (Learning Channel), Carole Tomko, executive producer, Patrick Fleming, producer, Tim Haines, John Lynch, producers; for writing a documentary special, America Undercover: Southern Justice: The Murder of Medgar Evers (HBO), Christopher Olgiati, writer; and for editing a documentary special or series, Gloria Estefan: Mi Tierra/My Homeland (VH-1), Brian P. Forti, John Holtzman, Kevin C. Layne, Dana L. Perri, editors.