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329 West 18th Street Suite #610
Chicago, Illinois 60616
(312) 243-1808
info@chicagofilmarchives.org

CFA Receives NFPF Grant to Preserve Three 35mm Films

CFA is happy to to share that we have been awarded a grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation to photochemically preserve three 35mm nitrate films from our Charles E. Krosse Collection. The films being preserved include:

Paying the Piper

 

Paying the Piper (ca.1936), anti–New Deal snipe produced by the Jam Handy Organization.

 

 

 

 

Peoria Community Fund

 

Peoria Community Fund Campaign Film (ca.1935), portrait of 23 local charitable organizations in need of support.

 

 

 

 

Variety Show at Peoria's Palace Theatre

 

Variety Show at the Peoria Palace Theatre (ca.1934), showcase of local performers backed by a band of female musicians.

 

 

 

 

With the support of the NFPF, we will be creating new 35mm negatives and prints of these films with Colorlab. Thanks NFPF!

Uncovering New Stories Through the NEH CARES Grant

Palazzolo Collection

In June 2020, CFA received generous support from a CARES grant, which was made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities and designed to help us delve into our collections and make more stories and films accessible to the public. During this exceptionally difficult time (on so many levels), we were tasked with finding new ways to work with our collections amidst lockdowns, staggered schedules, and Zoom meet-ups due to COVID-19. The grant supported our ability to focus on the labor-intensive work of stabilizing, digitizing, and cataloguing portions of our large audiovisual collections, which contain precious footage documenting Midwestern culture and history. With help from the NEH, we were able to dedicate much-needed time to the William Franklin Grisham Collection, which documents the history of the early film industry in Chicago; the Frank Koza Collection of mid-century newsreels; the Tom Palazzolo Collection, which captures the outermost fringes of life in Chicago; and the Rhodes Patterson Collection of design, architecture and industry films.

We found plenty of exciting and potentially groundbreaking narratives through our work. For example, the William Franklin Grisham Collection contains elements from The Very Last Laugh (1976), a documentary directed by Grisham that features the only known footage of Luther J. Pollard, the head of Ebony Film Co. and possibly the first African American film producer in history. Work is currently underway to further understand Pollard’s role in the establishment of Ebony Film Co., but for now, The Very Last Laugh presents a fascinating story that is under-acknowledged within film history. Also included in the collection are rare 16mm prints of several films made by Ebony in the 1910s, including The Comeback of Barnacle Bill and A Black Sherlock Holmes, now streaming.

We also found hidden gems within the Frank Koza Collection, which contains wonderful snippets of Midwestern life in the 1950s and ‘60s. CFA brought on contract archivist Jiayi Chen to work on inspecting and stabilizing the massive collection of 2100 reels of news footage shot by the professional cameraman. Jiayi was able to inspect nearly 400 elements over the course of the grant, and CFA staff digitized and catalogued 48 new titles from the collection. Highlights among these newly streaming films include never-before-seen footage of Elvis getting ready to enter the military in 1958, scenes of polio vaccinations being administered in 1960, and a look at Queen Elizabeth’s visit to the Art Institute of Chicago in 1959. 

Collections Manager Yasmin Desouki was also able to dig into the vast Rhodes Patterson Collection, uncovering a surprisingly diverse body of work. Among the architecture and design films we were expecting, Yasmin also came across a film Rhodes made with his wife Norma, The Signal (ca. 1966), which features delightful stop-motion puppetry. Another charming find was The Dogs of Aspen, a humorous film about, you guessed it, the dogs that live in Aspen, CO.

Jiayi Chen

Archivist Jiayi Chen inspects a roll of film from the Frank Koza Collection

 

Digitization manager Olivia Babler and transfer technician Justin Dean were excited to work on the Tom Palazzolo Collection, which contains more than 1700 prints, trims, and elements from the filmmaker known as “Tommy Chicago.” The entire collection has now been inventoried, and this grant also enabled us to digitize and catalogue a number of Tom’s underground documentary films and home movies. We truly enjoyed getting to ask the insightful and goofy filmmaker more about his work over the last six months (and have delighted in the sometimes elaborate, costumed selfies he frequently attaches to his e-mail correspondence). You can now stream some of Tom’s earliest works, his first feature, and even his wedding film on our website.

A heartfelt thank you to the National Endowment for the Humanities for facilitating this work. We are delighted to have been given the capacity required to work on these wonderful collections in the past few months, and to have catalogued upwards of 80 films for our audience to research and enjoy. Below you will find links to view all of the films we have digitized and catalogued for this project.

 

 

NEH-Horizontal-Seal-Black820

 

Frank Koza Collection

Tom Palazzolo Collection

Rhodes Patterson Collection

William Franklin Grisham Collection

CFA Receives Grant to Preserve 2 Films by Maurice Bailen

CFA is happy to announce that we have received a Preservation Grant from the National Film Preservation Foundation for the photochemical preservation of two films from the Maurice Bailen Collection, The City (ca. 1961) and Confrontation (ca. 1968). Both films are original 16mm work prints, and no other copies are known to exist. Maurice Bailen (1902-1980) was a Chicago-based filmmaker who is well-regarded and yet his filmic output is largely underrepresented; he remains most known for his film The Great Depression (ca. 1934), made with the Chicago chapter of the Workers Film and Photo League. Bailen’s films were devoted to capturing pivotal social movements in American history through a uniquely experimental aesthetic that was part documentary, part satire and political commentary. To learn more about his films, please visit our finding aid here.

The City
Still from The City (ca. 1961)

Confrontation
Still from Confrontation (ca. 1968)

CFA Receives NEH CARES Relief Grant

Chicago Film Archives is proud to announce that it is the recipient of a CARES grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. The award, in the amount of $54,743, will be used to uncover the Midwest histories hidden within four varied and distinctive collections in our care. According to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the NEH received “more than 2300 eligible applications from cultural organizations, for projects between June and December, 2020. Approximately 14 percent of the applicants were funded.”

This support will allow CFA to focus on the labor-intensive task of stabilizing, cataloging and digitizing portions of four large audiovisual collections that document Midwestern culture and history: the Tom Palazzolo Collection which captures the outermost fringes of life in Chicago; the Frank Koza Collection of newsreels; the Rhodes Patterson Collection of design, architecture and industry films; and the William Franklin Grisham Collection, which documents early African-American filmmaking in Chicago and elsewhere.

 

Palazzolo reels

 
This grant will also allow CFA to re-acclimate our operations to the new environment of social distancing and remote work. Over the last three months, CFA staff, like most others, have pivoted from working in close proximity to actively learning new and distant means of communication and coordination of our full-time activities. These changes have allowed us to focus on aspects of our work that have been neglected in order to address the day-to-day tasks we would typically face in the office. This new arrangement has given each of us time to be more reflective and innovative about the work that we do at CFA.

We see the remaining months of 2020 as a time of experimentation and transformation for our organization. We hope to find new means of amplifying the accessibility of our archival materials, and new ways to more effectively move our mission forward.

Huge thanks to the NEH, and congratulations to the other deserving grant recipients.

CFA’s New Year Awards and Grants Roundup

The turn of the year has been full of news for CFA! Here’s a round up of the grants and awards we have received recently, which we are extremely grateful for. Lots of reasons to keep checking back in with us to see what we’re up to!

CFA and Partners Awarded “Hidden Collections” CLIR Grant

millie-CLIR_logo

Chicago Film ArchivesNortheast Historic Film and the Lesbian Home Movie Project are extremely pleased to announce that we have been awarded a “Hidden Collections” grant, a granting program of the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) that is generously funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. This collaborative project will unleash the work of 50 women filmmakers by supporting the digitization of their works. CFA is particularly happy to increase exposure to the work of Millie Goldsholl and JoAnn Elam, two twentieth-century filmmakers who are largely unknown.

Millie Goldsholl (1920-2012) headed up the filmmaking division of the renowned Chicago design firm, Goldsholl Design and Film Associates. She attended classes at Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s new School of Design when the New Bauhaus movement was just taking hold in Chicago. Her work is playful, political and highly innovative. The Goldsholl’s studio gave space and guidance to new experimental filmmakers such as Larry Janiak, Byron Grush and Robert Stiegler, all who have archived their work at CFA. A large portion of the personal films made by Millie will be digitized and made accessible as a result of this grant.

JoAnn Elam (1949-2009) was a champion of the small gauge film, and an experimental filmmaker as well. She, too, was highly political and at an early age made two feminist films RAPE and LIE BACK AND ENJOY IT. Both still are in distribution. Her collection of films is vast and not easily decipherable. A closer look often reveals a home movie to be subtle commentary. Many of her films depict every day events with shadings of political overtones. So, it’s unclear what is and is not a “finished” film. JoAnn died before finishing her documentary named EVERYDAY PEOPLE. In the coming years, CFA hopes to take a stab at extending her themes into unexpected places.

 

CFA Acknowledged by the Ruth Page Center for the Arts

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Chicago Film Archives, along with the Batsheva Dance Company, will receive the 2017 Ruth Page Award for significant contributions to the world of dance. This unexpected honor came to us just recently for CFA’s “dedication to preserving the legacy of Ruth Page.” With enduring trust from the Ruth Page Foundation and financial support from the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, CFA spent three and a half years stabilizing, digitizing and describing this large collection of films and videos that dates from the early 1920s. Today hundreds of performances, rehearsals, home movies and dance films can be viewed streaming from CFA’s website

This award will be presented Friday, January 27th at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance after the performance of Last Work by the Batsheva Dance Company. Hope to see you there!

 

CFA Goes International!

CFA-film80-stills-3

CFA is happy to announce we have been awarded a grant from the MacArthur Foundation International Connections Fund to produce an International Media Mixer!!

Chicago Film Archives (Chicago, IL) and Lab 80 film (Bergamo, Italy) will partner in this exciting project by exchanging digitized film footage from our respective repositories. Each organization will then commission two media artists (from our respective countries) to create new works using the partner’s footage (digitized, of course!). Upon completion of these four new silent video works (2 in Italy and 2 in the US), the partnering organizations will once again exchange the works so that two musicians/bands from the partnering country can score the new pieces.

Once completed, these four new media works will be screened in the Chicago area and in northern Italy with live accompaniment by the musicians who created the scores. Our Italian colleague, Karianne Fiorini, will be representing Lab 80 film to identify the Italian artists, curate the project, and coordinate the screenings on her side of the ocean. CFA will be doing the same in Chicago.

The goal of this project is twofold. It will allow archivists and filmmakers to explore the process and outcomes of creating culturally hybrid works of media art with archival footage. It’s a sort-of cross cultural “call and response” exercise, mixing and layering artistic audio/visual expressions that emanate from artists of two different cultures. It will also bring definition and a sense of scope to the international practice of media conservation, combining the practices of art and archiving to produce new artistic works.

Background
This project is based upon an artistic collaboration that Chicago Film Archives has sponsored locally over the last five years. CFA provides footage to three Chicago media artists to create original video works. These videos are then handed over to three local musicians, bands or audio artists who each score one of the new works. These three new fully-realized media works are then premiered at CFA’s annual Media Mixer at the Hideout. This MacArthur proposal will add an international component to the mix.