Apr 26, 2010

a Canadian Orphan Film Symposium

I dunno what's come of it, but a year or so ago four Canadian scholar/ archivist/ filmmakers (three alumni of past Orphan Film Symposiums), established this website, Cinephemera.

Our Objective
      To create awareness of orphan media and to excavate, preserve, and contextualize a variety of alternative, non-theatrical, obscure or obsolete forms of Canada’s audio-visual heritage. Also, we are in the process of creating an orphan film symposium here in Canada.

Canadian Orphan Film Symposium 
      Similar to the orphan film symposium in the U.S. (www.nyu.edu/orphanfilm) we would like to start an orphan film symposium in Canada. This symposium would consider the material conditions of the circulation of these media, the historical exhibition and reception contexts, the concrete issues related to their preservation and accessibility (storage, copying, preservation, copyright, and digitization), and issues surrounding their study, programming and curation. This symposium would be an opportunity for archivists, librarians, scholars and filmmakers working on orphan film in Canada to share their research and create a viable lobby for the preservation of our fragile audio-visual history.

Reading this while also brainstorming about a forthcoming Advisory Board for the OFS (the capitalized one) leads me to think that a new level of maturation has come to "Orphans."  One rationale for having a board of advisors is to make the symposium and the Orphan Film Project more sustainable, to set up succession. 

However, the symposium, it seems, has rippled synchronically, regardless of what comes diachronically. If independent groups, particularly in other nations, are establishing parallel (but not affiliated) symposiums and projects, then a central entity becomes unnecessary. No reason for an "ofs" (lower-case, as in the Cinephemera text) in Canada --or the Netherlands or Singapore -- to "compete" with one (or more) in the U.S. (And no reason to trademark or brand the phrase; that wouldn't be orphanistic.) 

That said, all such enterprises, including NYU's, will be modest and marginal, compared to the big media ventures in the world. It's better for our mutually assured survival, and for the strengthening of ideas and actions, to let a hundred flowers bloom (or a thousand, as we non-Maoists say). 

In fact, since Canada is where a South Carolinian's Madame Winger, Recipes for Disaster, and National Film Board of Breadland were conceived, it only seems right to go there. 

Meanwhile, discussions are underway for 2012 to have Orphans 8 at a venue such as the Museum of the Moving Image (Astoria, Queens) or the AFI Silver Theatre and Cultural Center (Silver Spring, Maryland). Or wherever the event can find safe harbor. And maybe Orphans 2014 in Amsterdam.

Other suggested locations?  Need: 250+ seats; archival projection equipment.

-- dan.streible@nyu.edu