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Chicago, Illinois 60616
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Giving Thanks

CFA has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. This week we learned that CFA was awarded three grants – one from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), one from the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and another from the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.

The NEH grant ($6000) will go towards purchasing steel archival shelves for two massive collections – the Frank Koza Newsreel Collection and the Robert & Terry Davis Travelogue Collection. Combined, these two collections have over 2,700 film & audio elements. We are delighted (and thankful!) to give these collections a nice and stable home within our temperature controlled vault.

A treat from CFA’s Robert & Terry Davis Collection, OBEY YOUR AIR RAID WARDEN (1942, Robert Davis & Harry Hilfinger):

We are also excited to announce that the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation matched our recent NEA grant of $20,000 with $34,500 to digitize the remainder of the Ruth Page Dance Collection. This collection contains dance rehearsals and performances that date back to 1922 including footage of Rudolph Nureyev soon after his defection from the Soviet Union, Balinese dances filmed during Page’s 1928 Asian Tour, and performances of The Merry Widow on the Ed Sullivan Show. It also contains the original and master tapes of numerous interviews with dance critics such as Clive Barnes and John Martin, dancers such as Larry Long, Delores Lipinski, Anne Kisselgoff and Maria Tallchief, and a comprehensive series of interviews and oral histories with Page herself that date from 1957 through 1987.

A portion of the inspected 16mm films in CFA’s Ruth Page Collection

Combined, the NEA & Donnelley grants will help fund the digitization of over 900 unique moving image and audio items, including 16mm films, rare video formats (including 2″!), Betacam SP tapes and a handful of 1/4″ audio reels. This Donnelley Foundation grant also allows CFA to strengthen our digital storage and digitization workflows, making it easier for us to get these digitized materials streaming on our website and therefore accessible to you.

And speaking of access…also in the works is a Midwest dance program, featuring the work of Ms. Page alongside the provocative work of the talented dancer-choreographer Sybil Shearer (1912-2005). (More on this 2014 screening soon!)  In the mean time, though, you can view 63 freshly digitized Ruth Page films & videos on our site, including two recently restored 1928 Ravinia performances (here and here), a handful of television appearances by Ruth Page & Co (view one here), home movies filmed during Page’s 1928 Asian Tour (view one here) as well as a sprinkling of rare 1″ and 1/2″ video tapes digitized by Bay Area Video Coalition.

And! last night we learned that the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation awarded CFA an $8000 grant for 2014 General Operations. SO SO THANKFUL! Chicago Film Archives is a 501(c)(3) non profit and depends on grants like these AND the support from our followers to thrive. Please consider donating to CFA here. Each contribution both large and small is critical to our continuing work.

Some more great news today for CFA and the Ruth Page Dance Collection…

A portion of the inspected 16mm films in CFA’s  Ruth Page Collection

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) has awarded CFA another grant to further process the Ruth Page Collection. This means the 16mm films and videotapes in the collection will be digitized, giving the folks at the Ruth Page Center for the Arts, dance scholars, historians, student dancers, and anyone who has an interest in artistic movement access to these materials.  Thank you to the NEA for recognizing Ms. Page as a Chicagoan who made her mark worldwide in the field of dance. As the coming year unfolds, be on the look out for her performances on our website. And special shout outs to our talented intern, Harry Eskin, who hand inspected the collection’s tricky production elements AND to the young video makers from Whitney Young High School who are making a short biopic about the renegade and very American choreographer Ruth Page. Read the official NEA press release here.


…to so many people. CFA has kept its doors open, the back room chilled, the bench occupied and the telecine humming because of your decisions to support us. We are creating a massive 20th century Midwest/Chicago moving image time capsule that is built by each CFA customer, each CFA donor, and each foundation and agency that supports our work.

Thank You Pudding “Laboratory” (1968), Chuck Olin Collection


In 2012 you pushed us over the finish line in getting our online database (with over 400 streaming videos) deployed and displayed on our website! Thanks especially to Andrea Gambino and all who matched her offer to ensure the completion of this two and a half year project! And to filmmaker and new board member Leslie Buchbinder who simply said, “I’m in.”

You got us started in the huge and worthy task of processing the magnificent Ruth Page Dance Collection – with thanks to the National Endowment of the Arts who was later joined by the Gaylord & Dorothy Donnelley Foundation to make this happen! Already, two 1928 35mm Ruth Page films – BOLERO and CARMEN – are being restored and preserved at Colorlab in Washington, DC. And 80 of the earliest Ruth Page videotapes are making their way to Bay Area Video Coalition (BAVC) for transfer to digital preservation files.

You made it possible to begin unwrapping the work of the late and unheralded avant-garde filmmaker JoAnn Elam. It’s a complicated collection that reflects the life of its complicated creator. Thanks especially to Susan Elam, Joe Hendricks, Chuck Kleinhaus and Julia Lesage for providing a large offering of support, light and clarification to this collection.

I am also grateful to those who have begun and to those who have continued to invest in CFA’s mission and future this past year. Our board members old and new have underscored and advanced our 2012 activities in an economy that has strained most all of us. Chicago artists and studios (that would be you, Jessica Bardsley, Tim Kinsella, Andy Resek, Ellen Castleberry, Josh Abrams, Kent Lambert, CAVE, Monica Jost and the Experimental Sound Studio!) have contributed their talents and skills to create new works of moving image art, utilizing CFA’s films. Our very small team of metadata pros, researchers and programmers completed a very large and well-populated online database…and even well after the last check was written, they shored us up when CFA glitches arose (Thank you, Seth!). Foundations both national and local (hugely grateful to the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, Art Works Fund and Illinois Arts Council) have allowed us to establish rich and massive goals. Our interns have always made these goals attainable. CFA customers continually seem to “get it” that they contribute to the salvaging and preservation of the Midwest moving image legacy each time they use our services. Thank you to the Morrison-Shearer Foundation and the Chicago Academy of Sciences that invest in the legacies their own collections contain. And CFA’s Collections Manager Anne Wells conducts this all from the front office with grace and composure hard to match.

Thank you.


CFA Awarded NEA Grant to Process Ruth Page Dance Collection

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman Rocco Landesman announced today that Chicago Film Archives is one of the 788 not-for-profit national, regional and state organizations nationwide to receive an NEA Art Works grant.  These Art Works grants support the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.  The NEA received 1,624 eligible applications under the Art Works category for this round of funding.  The Chicago Film Archives has been awarded its full request from the NEA and expects to meet the required match this coming year to stabilize the Ruth Page Dance Collection in its entirety.

Illinois’ 7th District Representative Danny Davis remarked,

Ruth Page was an extraordinary pioneer of dance in America.  The moving image collection acquired by the Chicago Film Archives is an irreplaceable treasure.  The Archives, by preserving and protecting this legacy, are ensuring that this treasure will be available for generations to come.  I congratulate the Archives, and all the dedicated people who work there, on winning this grant and applaud their vision and initiative in undertaking this project.

We are ready to get started on this fascinating collection from Chicago’s premiere and iconic twentieth century dance figure.  Containing nearly 1,000 items, CFA will stabilize, digitize and catalog this collection over a three-year period.  It’s with great honor that as a result of this grant, CFA will soon be able to publicly present the history, accomplishments and artistry of the Chicago dancer and choreographer, Ruth Page. By building upon both the Ruth Page and the Morrison-Shearer Foundation dance collections, CFA can begin to retell Chicago’s history of dance.

- Nancy