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Bert Van Bork Collection

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Collection Identifier: C.2008-07
Extent of collection
31 reels of 16mm film totaling 19,925 feet
Inclusive Dates
1960 - 1999
The Bert Van Bork Collection contains films Van Bork directed and produced while working at Encyclopedia Britannica Films. Also included in the collection is his 1999 short documentary EYEWITNESS, which examines the sketches and paintings done secretly by men and women who lived and died inside the walls of Nazi death camps.
Van Bork, Bert (was created by)

Van Bork was born in 1928 in Augustusburg, Germany. He studied art at the Academies of Fine Arts in Berlin, Leipzig, and Dresden.  Following World War II, he began producing stark woodcuts of intense and terrifying beauty, often made from the pine remains of destroyed buildings and old furniture, depicting a Berlin struggling with an uncertain future.

In 1954, he moved to Chicago by way of New York, working in oil on canvas as well as drypoint, displaying an influence of German expressionism in his portrayals of the landscapes of the American Southwest, and cityscapes of Chicago. By this time, Van Bork had become an accomplished stills photographer as well, and received the National Award for Outstanding Photography in Germany in 1954.In 1957, Van Bork brought a film he had made, The Seventeen Year Locust to Warren Everote at Encyclopedia Britannica Films, who then hired him to produce mainly art and science films (the film was renamed Insect Life Cycle: the Periodical Cicada for distribution).  Soon, he became famous for both his stunning geological studies and infamous for his daring in obtaining footage under extremely arduous conditions, whether volcanic, underground, or aerial. Van Bork has made over 200 films.

His film Eyewitness (1999) was nominated for an Academy Award in 1999 under the documentary short category. The film examines the sketches and paintings done secretly by men and women who lived and died inside the walls of the Nazi death camps.

Bert Van Bork passed away October 29, 2014. More on Bert and a working filmography, courtesy of the Academic Film Archive:

Encyclopedia Britannica (was created by)
Custodial History
Artist and filmmaker, Van Bork gave film prints in exchange for transfer services. Van Bork specialized in scientific cinematography.
Language of Materials
Access Restrictions
This collection is open to on-site access. Appointments must be made with Chicago Film Archives. Due to the fragile nature of the films, only video copies will be provided for on-site viewing.
Use Restrictions
Many of the films are EBE films. CFA does not have any rights to these films.
Aging of Lakes, The
Archeological Dating: Retracing Time
Biology Program: Unit 1 - Ecology
Cave Community, The