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July 20, 2009


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Dan Streible

The METROPOLIS news from the Museo del Cine de Buenos has been inspiring. Yet the more I learned about the museum and the collection in which that 16mm negative of the uncut METROPOLIS resided, the more it seemed there was far more to be rediscovered. And almost all of the films one finds in the BsAs cabinet of wonders are in need of preservation.

So, thanks to the generosity of the Museo's director, Paula Félix-Didier, I was able to take NYU Cinema Studies/MIAP's planned trip to Buenos for the 2009 FIAF Congress and expand it into an extra week of archiving work. The NYU team was Howard Besser, student Kim Tarr, alumnae Natalia Fidelholtz, Daniela Bajar, Sarah Resnick, as well as NYU Library AV specialist Alice Moscoso and filmmaker/professor/lab owner Bill Brand. Once the idea of going to Buenos Aires for 2 weeks with free rooms to stay in set in, we were able to add other volunteers (all AMIA members, btw). Katie Trainor (MoMA), Liz Coffey (Harvard Film Archive), Katy Martin (a visual artist in NY), Carolyn Faber (indy archivist and filmmaker), and Julia Gibbs (University of Chicago Film Study Center).

It was inspirational -- to see everyone enthusiastically tackle a host of archiving tasks, to collaborate with the wonderful staff at the Museo del Cine, to know that this was a catalyst for actual preservation, and to see some rare and amazing films, gathered from all over the world. Not to mention a camera collection that includes Lumiere No. 4!

Much of the work was made do-able by the generosity of companies supporting the project: Tuscan Corp. donated cans; Kodak, Urbanski Film, and Colorlab donated supplies which we all muled down. The archiveros at the Museo were delighted to have the chance to do their work, now that some basic supplies lacking there were available.

Now, the Orphan Film Symposium is very excited to be working with the Museo del Cine to preserved films from its collection (including some 'lost' American silent features, Argentine newsreels, amateur film, and more. We look forward to showcasing this at "Orphans 7" next April. And we all hope to return to BA for more work with the Museo staff.

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