CFA is a winner of the 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions
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January 31, 2017

Collaborating with the Korean Film Archive

KOFA’s Sangam facility in Seoul, South Korea

In September of last year CFA was approached by Eric Choi from the Korean Film Archive (KOFA) with a proposition: Eric works in the acquisitions department of KOFA and was inquiring about collaborating with CFA to make any Korea-related material held by CFA accessible to researchers in South Korea through KOFA. We said yes.

KOFA, located in Seoul, South Korea, was first established in 1974 as the Korean Film Depository, a name it used until a restructuring in 1991 changed it to KOFA in 1991. The national film archive for South Korea, KOFA currently holds over 6,000 Korean films, along with thousands of items of film-related ephemera, and operates the archive, a museum, library, and cinematheque. For anyone not in South Korea, KOFA also runs the Korean Movie Database and a YouTube channel featuring full-length films for free (highly recommended).

Pamphlets and DVDs from KOFA

Eric’s project specifically was to seek out documentary footage of Korea held in foreign archives and obtain copies that could be brought back to South Korea and made available for viewing on-site at the KOFA library locations. Particularly footage of the country during and prior to the Korean War (1950-1953) is difficult to find within South Korea due to the poor economic state of the country at that time. Most of the documentary film shot was exported for international newsreels and travelogues.

Since CFA’s mission is to collect and focus on Midwestern film, it might seem surprising that we had any material at first that would aid KOFA in this project. However, even before visiting us in Chicago, Eric was able to identify three films in our collections that do exactly that. Coming from the Frank Koza, Margaret Conneely, and Carl Godman Collections, the three films are a mix of newsreel segments and home movie footage from Godman, a Lieutenant in the Navy during the war. Once Eric was here, we were able to show him two more: another newsreel segment from Koza, and more home movie material from the Howard Prouty Collection, shot by a currently unknown soldier.

At the time, our only digital copies of these films were made in SD from our Tobin telecine machines, but KOFA was looking for the highest resolution possible to store in their archive. Therefore, over the next couple of months, we worked to scan each film on our Kinetta scanner and produce 2K masters to send to KOFA. Each file was also watermarked with CFA’s name to document its provenance. In turn, KOFA will direct any researcher viewing these materials in South Korea to CFA for more information.

Scene of Seoul during the war, from the Koza Collection

Featured in these films are primarily scenes of American troops at combat and leisure in various parts of Korea during the war. One produced by Frank Koza is particularly intimate for a newsreel and important to our understanding of Frank and his collection, as it features a shot of Frank himself, labeling his film cans and sending notes about his observations back to the U.S. The film then shows the occupying American troops exploring war-torn Seoul and encountering the residents.

The two home movies (from Godman and Prouty) are even more intimate, as they weren’t shot with an eye for distribution. Instead, the films show rare moments of soldiers at camp within the Korean wilderness, glimpses of U.S.O.-sponsored entertainment, travels aboard Naval ships, and scenes loading and unloading at places like Wonsan, North Korea—all in bright 8mm Kodachrome color.

American soldiers at camp in Korea, from the Prouty Collection.

American soldiers at camp in Korea, from the Prouty Collection.

The final files were delivered back to KOFA this weekend on a hard drive they had previously sent to us. Also included in their package with the hard drive were two copies of the KOFA-published magazine 영화천국 (Cinema Heaven) that include an article Eric wrote about CFA and his visit to our office. We’re glad to have had this chance to collaborate with KOFA and strengthen our ties internationally to give access to these films and get them seen more broadly!

CFA in the pages of 영화천국 (Cinema Heaven)

 

January 11, 2017

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

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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!

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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.

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