A little late to the moon party…
Lobster Films completed its restoration of a hand-colored Voyage dans la lune (Georges Méliès, 1902) in 2011. The work took twenty years. It is the most expensive restoration in the history of cinema. The print premiered at Cannes with a new soundtrack by Air. It will screen elsewhere this month (and can be found embedded in Scorsese’s 3D homage to Méliès, Hugo). Here, one can see an interview with Serge Bromberg, the Director of Lobster Films, on the acquisition of the print (from Spain). In the interview, Bromberg interestingly claims that the aim of the project was “to promote…and to revive the experience of ‘Trip to the Moon’.” It would be interesting to put some pressure on the ellipses, to hear more about the promotional ends of this particular restoration and the experience promoters hoped to revive. More interesting perhaps, is the way in which the hyper-national restoration, promotion and re-release of the film (from Lobster to Air to Cannes) conceals the transnational circuits that the film travelled before finding its way back to origin stories and national mythologies.
The Glasgow Short Film Festival is just around the corner (Feb 9-12). A symposium on the archive–Enter the Archive–will be held on February 10, followed by a screening of Frank Marshall’s work. I will be contributing to one of the panels (on archives and research). The whole festival program can be found here. It promises to be a fantastic series of screenings/discussions. Fingers crossed that archive theory and silent film historiography can live up to the standards set by the symposium’s title.
Michael Clayton, Vascular bundle of a fern rhizome (2010)
I have decided not to attend the Society for Cinema and Media Studies conference in March. My reasons are largely financial. My institution has a limited budget for research expenses and I did not receive any funding for the trip. This particular year, I can’t afford to pay entirely out of pocket. The conference has become a major expense since I moved to Scotland in 2009: $200 for the conference, $800 for the plane ticket, $500 for several nights in a hotel in Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New Orleans, Boston, Chicago, etc.
I will miss the SCMS conference. It offers a valuable snapshot of the discipline. I learn what people are working on and what subfields are developing. I meet new colleagues and potential collaborators. And: I catch up with old friends, colleagues, and mentors. It has become a kind of lifeline to an academic and social world outside of Northeast Scotland.
There are other conferences, of course. And some outstanding ones in Film and Media Studies across the UK and continental Europe.
But my decision not to attend the SCMS conference this year has me thinking about academic conferences (esp. the large, multi-day, many-paneled, state-of-the-discipline events) and the more inclusive, accessible, and environmentally sustainable alternatives that (I hope) are on the way.
This year, Kevin MacDonald will meditate on the uses of the archive. Perhaps he will discuss the economic benefits of youtube or the role that professionals can play in saving (us from) our amateurs.
The trouble with memorials and memorial lectures is that they take lack as a point of departure. They try to pay a debt (not make a profit or build a new product). They owe something (to history, memory, and ghosts).
BFI should skip the memorial. Surely, MacDonald can only increase the weight of our historical burdens.
A series of silent film/sound events, curated in collaboration with Ross Whyte and Professor Pete Stollery from the Department of Music at the University of Aberdeen. Events are free, open to the public, and participatory. If you are in the area, please join us for evenings of cinema, sound, and discussion.
Dartmouth Film and Media students collaboratively remake Bruno Corra’s (long lost) Chromatic Music with sound from Russolo.
Robert Koch makes Gunning’s case, joining proto/early cinemas to the avant garde.
New sound and color from Andy Kwietniewski for La Maison Lumière.
At the 2010 Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, Thierry Fremaux (the director of the Institut Lumière) lectured alongside eighty Lumière films, many of which were newly restored and never-before-screened. Among them, an updated Sortie d’usine from 1995 “to celebrate the centennial of cinema’s birth.” This renovation featured a hundred or so of the “world’s most important directors” streaming out of the factory’s gates in Lyon. Only a handful of women could be counted among the crowd.
Kwietniewski’s remix importantly draws attention to the gender of the original workers: the hundreds of women in the early film factory. Just a few years later, they would be the ones doing all the coloring by hand, one frame at a time.
From a book my mentor gave me on my first day of teaching:
“Leaders who do not act dialogically, but insist on imposing their decisions, do not organize the people–they manipulate them. They do not liberate, nor are they liberated: they oppress.”
― Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed
Wading through an (overdue) article revision has taken up a lot of time these last two weeks. Lifted my head yesterday and came across this fashion spread in the NYT, this blog, and this short film. Travis Gumbs and Joshua Kissi are the writers / designers / stylists / retailers behind it all. They are 22 years old and their site receives a breathtaking 20,000 hits per day. From the NYTimes article on the college students and fashion phenoms: