The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman House received a prestigious award from the Anthology Film Archives in Manhattan Monday night for its efforts in film preservation.

“We had been thinking about them for some time,” Director of Collections and Special Projects at the Anthology Film Archives Robert Haller said. “[The award] is for organizations and people that help to preserve our film heritage. Without film preservation, the world would lose its memory.”

The Selznick School is the first permanent school in North America dedicated to teaching motion picture preservation, restoration and conservation. The school has currently sent 100 specialists into the field of film preservation.

“It’s important to have this kind of recognition for the oldest school of film conservation in the country,” Curator of the Motion Picture Department Patrick Loughney said.

“The school is the first of its kind, and has since become the model and standard-bearer for other programs that have cropped up in recognition of the new age we are entering in film and media studies,” Director of the Film and Media Studies Program Joanne Bernardi said. “Alumni of the school are working at archives worldwide and have brought a new level of professionalism to film restoration and preservation, which is particularly critical now that the medium of film is becoming a technology of the past.”

The Selznick School has begun offering a two year graduate program in film and media preservation with UR as of last fall, according to Bernardi.

“This collaboration marks an important joining of forces between the archival and academic worlds that are so vital to film culture,” Bernardi said. “Our goal is to produce alumni with a solid foundation in both areas of work and study, each of which complements the other.”

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese, who houses a significant portion of his personal film collection at the George Eastman House, presented the award to the Selznick School at the 14th annual Preservation Honors Dinner in New York City.

“We have a longstanding relationship with him,” Loughney said. “He was one of the first film directors to begin calling for studios to preserve cinema in America.”

Other recipients recognized by the Anthology Film Archives this year included General Electric for the creation of a 45-second advertisement that chronicled film history, Loews Cineplex Entertainment on its 100th anniversary – Barry Allen from Paramount Pictures for film preservation, and filmmakers Richard Schickel and Brian Jamieson of Warner Bros., for film restoration. The Anthology Film Archives currently employs a Selznick School graduate as their film archivist.

“The education I received at the Selznick School was directly instrumental in me seriously pursuing film preservation as both a job and a personal mission,” film archivist Andrew Lampert said.

Continuing, he said, “Working at the George Eastman House gave me the tools and theoretical/philosophical understanding necessary to advance in this field, to know what it is I wanted to do and how to best accomplish my goals. I can’t think of a more deserving awardee then the Selznick School. They were the first program in North America to offer training in the field of moving image archiving and, in my opinion, they remain at the top of the bunch.”

He also stated that film preservation is an absolute necessity in a culture that converses more and more in terms of moving images.

“The history of the 20th century was overwhelmingly documented on celluloid film,” Lampert said. “It is our responsibility to make sure that these historic moments are kept intact for future generations.”

Haller, too, stressed the importance of film preservation.

“When people get to see films in their original negatives like at George Eastman, you get a totally different view of what the film looked like,” he said. “It’s a really remarkable experience. We are saving the cinematic memory of the human race. Movies really are important. Most people just don’t think about them.”

Schnee can be reached at cschnee@campustimes.org.



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