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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.

The John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur Foundation Honors CFA

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Chicago Film Archives is so pleased to announce that we are a recipient of the 2016 MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions.  It came as a surprise.  We are among several other cultural institutions in Chicago who have received this honor, and we are in great company.

These superbly imaginative organizations exemplify Chicagos thriving arts and culture community, which is vibrant and economically vital to the region,said MacArthur President Julia Stasch. Support for these diverse and leading organizations reflects our enduring commitment to Chicago and to its cultural life that enriches us all.

This honor is particularly sweet because of our grass roots beginnings and the huge amount of “back room labor” that is required to make any archive and its holdings accessible.  Since much of the work we do is invisible to the public, we are especially moved that the folks at MacArthur imagined the scope and nature of what we do in our office every day.

Another reason this award is so important lies in the fact that no other film preservation organization (or any media preservation organization for that matter) has ever won this award.  The critical nature of moving image preservation often goes unnoticed, giving way to other cultural pursuits, leaving history behind as something merely made of nostalgia.  The ability to recognize that moving image records offer a glimpse into our future as well as our past is something rare.  Moving images can offer a more visceral, dense and rich reflection of our collective past than either text or photographic images can provide. So we are doubly thankful that the MacArthur Foundation is throwing light on this often over-shadowed cultural endeavor.

Just recently, CFA completed the preservation, digitization and cataloging of the massive Ruth Page dance collection funded by The National Endowment for the Arts and the Gaylord and Dorothy Donnelley Foundation.  The results can be found on CFA’s website where nearly 400 films are described and streaming in full with extensive notes about each of these works.  In addition, CFA has conserved twenty-eight films with support from the National Film Preservation Foundation including the Film Group’s Cicero March which was selected for the National Film Registry in 2013.

Particularly satisfying, though, was Davia Crutchfield’s note to CFA after we shared with her one of our obscure films that featured her great-uncle Doug Crutchfield.

Due to your generosity several generations of the Crutchfield family were able to revisit (or see for the first time) my great-uncle Doug as well as my great grandparents, Howard and Jean Crutchfield. I did not have the opportunity to meet my great-grandfather so to see him and my great-grandmother (who passed away a few years ago) interact was absolutely surreal.

My grandfather (who is nearing his 80s), as well as my great-aunt (who was recovering from bypass surgery) sat on the edge of their seats gleaning as they watched their parents and brother argue once again :)

Please spread the word and join us as we celebrate throughout the year with special programming and events with the goal of expanding our capacity to rescue films, creating new archival presentations and serving our constituents with new digital capabilities.

This award of $200,000 will be placed in reserve to ensure the stability, longevity and integrity of CFA’s operations and mission.

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