WASHINGTON — A pair of shorts by indie L.A. helmer Charles Burnett are among 36 “orphan” pics or footage that will benefit from grants announced Wednesday by the National Film Preservation Foundation, a charitable affiliate of the U.S. Library of Congress.
The $180,000 in federal grant coin will go to 23 film archives across the country, including the UCLA Film & Television Archive, where Burnett’s “Several Friends” (1969) and “The Horse” (1973) are housed.
The film archive at the University of Southern California will receive grant money to preserve a series of student docs made in the 1940s and ’50s about Los Angeles neighborhoods no longer intact, including Bunker Hill and the Mexican-American neighborhood displaced by construction of Dodger Stadium in Chavez Ravine.
Grants to individual archives ranged from $2,000 to $12,000, National Film Preservation Foundation director Annette Melville said. Foundation, which will make another round of grants later this year, defines an orphan film as one that has no commercial backer. Hence, the film or footage is at risk of being lost forever.
Hall of Famers
The National Baseball Hall of Fame will receive a grant to preserve the 1939 “Cooperstown,” an amateur pic shot on 8mm Kodachrome featuring baseball greats Babe Ruth, Honus Wagner, Connie Mack and Cy Young on the opening day of the museum.
Newsreel outtakes from the first national competition for African-American golfers — held in 1925 after African-Americans were denied entry to the Professional Golfers’ Assn. (PGA) competish — will be preserved by the University of South Carolina.
“People have not seen some of this material for decades,” Melville said.
The George Eastman House in New York will receive money to preserve D.W. Griffith’s “Fighting Blood,” a 1911 short about a Civil War veteran fighting Indians in the Dakota territories.
Saving the avant-garde
Also in New York, the Harry Smith Archives will get money to preserve Smith’s epic avant-garde series “Mahagonny” (1970-80), as well as “Autobiography,” Jordan Belson’s portrait of the 1950s Beat scene in San Francisco.
The iota Center in Los Angeles will receive grant money to preserve four abstract animations by Jules Engel; the Paso Robles Pioneer Museum in Southern California will get money to preserve three nitrate films; and the San Diego Historical Society will use its grant to save a 1925 doc about the burning of Balboa Park.
The film foundation’s preservation grant project is in its fourth year. Foundation said the types of film most at risk are newsreels, early silents, educational shorts, avant-garde and experimental works, films no longer under copyright protection, amateur footage and docs.