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Funds to save films

58 orphan pix including 'Blot' get U.S. grants

WASHINGTON — The National Film Preservation Foundation announced Tuesday it will give immortal life to “The Blot,” a 1921 silent directed by Lois Weber, one of America’s most important women directors and a vibrant social crusader.

Weber’s pic, which portrayed friction between the classes, is among 58 “orphan” films that have made the final cut for the NFPF’s biannual grant program. The award money will go to 36 film archives across the country where the works — defined as “culturally significant” — are housed.

Other features earning grants included “The Flower Thief” (1960), helmer Ron Rice’s landmark pic headlining underground superstar and beat poet Taylor Mead; “The Call of Her People,” a melodrama starring Ethel Barrymore; and “The Upheaval” (1916), headlining Lionel Barrymore.

Three film diaries by Mead shot between 1964 and 1968 also received grant money.

Sculptor Pat O’Neil’s avant-garde film “7362” (1965-67) and two abstract animation films by Jules Engel, “Play-Pen” (1986) and “Interior” (1987), also were among the grantees. All three works are housed at the iota Center in Los Angeles.

Nonfiction pics

Nonfiction pics slated for preservation included filmmaker Don Lenzer’s 1973 doc on the building of the World Trade Center; “Norca,” a doc on Soviet Russia filmed clandestinely in the 1920s; and a backstage look at opera baritone Richard Bonelli while performing at the San Francisco Opera in the 1930s.

Grant money also went to a trio of films featuring Ben Vereen during his years as a student at the High School of the Performing Arts in Gotham.

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