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May 10, 2013

Frank Koza (1920-2013)

Two canisters filled with newsreel trims found in CFA’s Frank Koza Collection

We are sad to have to once again announce the death of another Midwest filmmaker and cinematographer – Frank Koza.  Frank had a long history of shooting news, first based out of the east coast and then Chicago.  He was a member of the International Cinematographer’s Guild Local 600 and he was good.  He was a consummate professional.

CFA acquired his negatives, prints and trims last year.  We know how much of a professional he was, just by the labeling he attached to his film materials.  To date, no collection we have received is so well organized and described as is the materials in Frank’s collection of films. Although we have yet to fully process this massive collection (it was meticulously inventoried by past CFA intern, Amelia Anderson), we have digitized a couple of his prints with subjects ranging from GOP political conventions and Apollo 11 blast-offs to leisurely scenes of suburban Chicago. Frank knew how to shoot.

RIP

more on Frank Koza’s exciting life here

May 2, 2013

Goldsholl and Janiak Design Films Slated for Preservation

CFA is happy to announce that the National Film Preservation Foundation has awarded CFA another grant to photo-chemically preserve four more films from the archives.  FACES AND FORTUNES, DISINTEGRATIONS LINE #1, DISINTEGRATION LINE #2, and ADAM’S FILM all reflect the influence of the “American Bauhaus” movement introduced by Laszlo Moholy-Nagy during the late 30s/early 40s in Chicago.  Designer and filmmaker team Morton and Millie Goldsholl were students at the School of Design in the 40s.  The impact Moholy-Nagy had on them was immediate and concrete.  The couple moved their already successful design studio to a larger space in Northfield, IL and added a film department that was headed up by Millie.  Larry Janiak was one of their first employees at their film studio.

These four films are early and stellar expressions of the midcentury Bauhaus influence in Chicago.

FACES AND FORTUNES was created as a filmic treatise on “corporate identity” for Kimberly-Clark Corporation. This film explores the legacy and importance of “personality” or branding of industries, organizations and companies. As you can see in these stills, the remaining prints of FACES AND FORTUNES are extremely color-faded. This NFPF grant gives us the opportunity to color correct this 16mm film back to its original glory. By Morton and Millie Goldsholl

ADAM’S FILM isa visual film collage experiment.  Live action images are combined with abstract images and textures that were chemically generated directly onto the 16mm film.  By Lawrence Janiak

DISINTEGRATION LINE #1 (DL1) is chemically generated visual variations produced directly onto 16mm film.  By Lawrence Janiak

DISINTEGRATION LINE #2 (DL2) is an optically printed full color randomly animated texture field image film.  By Lawrence Janiak

We are so pleased to have this opportunity to preserve modernist titles in our collections.  To date CFA has sheperded the photo-chemical and digital preservation of 91 Chicago and Midwest films with the support of the National Film Preservation Foundation, the Women’s Film Preservation Fund, The Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.  We plan to keep this number growing in order to create a complex and nuanced portrait of our region for generations to come.

More on Janiak’s films here

May 1, 2013

Mike Gray 1935-2013

I feel this is one big mistake. Mike has been working on multiple projects (books and films) with his partner and wife Carol Gray. He sprints when he moves, never lollygagging from one place to the next. By the way, he is not finished with THE ORGANIZER featuring the work of community organizer and Black Panther Bobby Lee (also known as the Mayor of the 5th Ward in Houston). Mike and his former partner Bill Cottle (The Film Group) donated to CFA one of our first documentary collections…the Urban Crisis series. This series of seven modules were actually educational films culled from the massive footage they shot during the civil rights marches in Chicago and the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Eventually CFA had them preserved with the blessing of the NFPF. One of them – CICERO MARCH – has been twice nominated for the National Film Registry. Trailer for THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON In 1968/69 Mike had been making AMERICAN REVOLUTION 2 (and after that THE MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON), two feature-length documentaries that pretty much represented the race and anti-war unrest of that time. Directing AR2, Mike invited Howard Alk (another Chicagoan with considerable editing talents) to review the miles of footage and co-direct his film that was in progress. Alk did and gave the film its direction. They went on to make MURDER OF FRED HAMPTON, and after that, Mike skedaddled off to Hollywood with his screenplay CHINA SYNDROME. In 2004, Mike came up to see our chilly vault and hear my spiel on what we at CFA intended to do with these Midwest film collections and the Chicago filmmakers who, as a rule, are neglected, in the shadows and often forgotten. CFA was only about a year old at the time. After finishing the tour of the vault, we sprinted across the bridge to my car for a lunch at Mannys. We sat down and Mike told me what to do. He insisted that CFA do a retrospective on the brilliant Howard Alk who for a brief shining moment in history crafted some films that cut to the core. Mike was not shy about singing Alk’s praises. He more than shared the credit for AR2 and MURDER. He did the same with the films he collaborated on with Chuck Olin. You will see Mike’s name again on the newly preserved CFA film 8 FLAGS FOR 99 CENTS which will be showcased this fall. We have found Mike’s name on numerous films that reside in our archive, in particular the Film Group and Olin Collections. He produced, shot, directed, recorded sound, begged for money; he did everything and anything on films to make them happen splendidly. He has authored many books, was a great journalist, a voice that could add clarity to complicated things, an activist, whatever… What sets Mike apart from the rest of us, he did not have an outsized or even medium-sized ego. Mike was always always the boy from Darlington, Indiana. I miss him already. You can view some of Mike’s work here and here.

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