NEH Grant to the National Film Preservation Foundation
William S. Hart
NEH AWARDS $305,000 TO THE
NATIONAL FILM PRESERVATION FOUNDATION
TO PRODUCE TREASURES 5
New DVD Set Will Present the American West in Early Film
Thanks to a $305,000 grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Film Preservation Foundation will produce Treasures from American Film Archives 5, a ten-hour DVD set presenting the American West in early film. The anthology will draw from the preservation work of the nation's preeminent silent-film archives—the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, George Eastman House, the Library of Congress, the Museum of Modern Art, the National Archives, and the UCLA Film & Television Archive—and explore how film recorded and mythologized the American West from 1897 to 1938.
Some of America’s earliest movies brought the West’s distinctive landscapes and peoples to faraway audiences. By 1910, narratives set in the West accounted for one-fifth of all U.S. releases and had emerged internationally as the first film type for which “American-made” become a selling point. While Westerns were helping to put Hollywood on the map, the real West became a popular subject in educational shorts, travelogues promoting rail and auto travel, industrial profiles, newsreels, and government films about agriculture, Native Americans, and conservation. Film exported the West to every part of the globe and inspired a movie-made vision of America far beyond our shores.
The three-disc anthology will reclaim this little known history by presenting an array of features and shorts previously unavailable on video. Scheduled for release in fall 2011, Treasures 5 will feature audio commentary, new musical accompaniments, and program notes and will reunite the production team from previous NFPF DVDs: curator Scott Simmon (UC Davis), music curator Martin Marks (MIT), and designer Jennifer Grey. The NEH grant builds on a generous start-up grant awarded by the National Endowment for the Arts in December 2009.
The NFPF's critically acclaimed Treasures DVD series is widely used in libraries and universities around the world. The sets have won awards from the National Society of Film Critics, the Video Software Dealers Association, and Il Cinema Ritrovato, the festival of film preservation in Bologna, Italy, and have become a staple in the teaching of film and history.
The Treasures 5 grant was made through the NEH’s Preservation and Access program. These grants support initiatives that “provide an essential foundation for scholarship, education, and public programming in the humanities.” The NEH designated Treasures 5 as a We the People project, a special recognition for efforts that promise to “strengthen the teaching, study, and understanding of American history and culture.”
The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America's film heritage. Since starting operations in 1997, the NFPF has assisted institutions in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and helped preserve more than 1,560 films. The NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress. For more information on the NFPF's programs, please visit http://www.filmpreservation.org/.