×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Library of Congress calls for ongoing pic aid

Film preservation is in a state of crisis and will require an ongoing, expensive effort to correct the problem, the Library of Congress has concluded after a yearlong study of the issue.

Fueling the crisis is the Library’s finding that films from 1950 to the present — those pix made from acetate rather than nitrate stock that were previously considered not at risk — face decaying problems of their own.

For example, acetate film’s ongoing problem is color fading, along with “vinegar syndrome” in which the film turns to a vinegar-like substance unless stored properly.

Lack of funding is also a persistent headache, the report found. Funding for the largest federal film preservation efforts has fallen to half its 1980 level after inflation is factored in, the report said.

The study — done in consultation with the National Film Preservation Board — also found that fewer than 20% of feature pix from the 1920s survive in complete form, and the survival rate is about 10% for films from the 1910s.

“The moving picture is not so much the art form as the language of the 20th century,” said Librarian of Congress James Billington. “Future generations will wonder why so little of such a marvelously appealing record was ever preserved.”

The report found that “motion pictures of all types are deteriorating faster than archives can preserve them … Today’s film preservation crisis is not merely the result of substantially decreased public funding but also arises from a growth in the types of film now valued and requiring preservation.”

Newsreels, documentaries and avant-garde works face particular problems because of a lack of preservation coin, the report states.

Though the report provides a mostly gloomy assessment of pic preservation, there is some reason for optimism.

The booming homevideo industry provides film studios with financial incentives to support restoration, the study notes. “In 1980, as industry executives admit off the record, it was the rare studio that took adequate care of its surviving library; today it is the rare company that fails to protect it.”

Permeating the report, however, is a sense of frustration over the lack of money to address preservation needs. “The current level of support — a patchwork of federal money, foundation grants and donations — only chips away at the problem,” the study states.

Moreover, preventative measures that would encourage filmmakers to preserve their own works “fit nowhere in the current picture, even in federal grants to filmmakers,” the report said.

“Current laws provide little incentive for forging public-private partnerships to restore valued filmed, or indeed for doing film preservation at all.”

The Library’s study will be followed with another report next year offering specific recommendations for a national film preservation plan.

More Film

  • Bong Joon-ho reacts after winning the

    Bong Joon-ho's 'Parasite' Wins the Palme d'Or at Cannes

    CANNES — The 72nd edition of the Cannes Film Festival wrapped with jury president Alejandro González Iñárritu announcing the group’s unanimous decision to award the Palme d’Or to South Korean director Bong Joon-ho for his sly, politically charged “Parasite.” Following last year’s win for humanistic Japanese drama “Shoplifters,” the well-reviewed Asian thriller represents the yin [...]

  • Invisible Life Brazilian Cinema

    Cannes Film Review: 'The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão'

    A “tropical melodrama” is how the marketing materials bill “The Invisible Life of Eurídice Gusmão.” If that sounds about the most high-camp subgenre ever devised, Karim Aïnouz’s ravishing period saga lives up to the description — high emotion articulated with utmost sincerity and heady stylistic excess, all in the perspiring environs of midcentury Rio de [...]

  • Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The 10 Best Movies of Cannes 2019

    The Cannes Film Festival is too rich an event to truly have an “off” year, but by the end of the 72nd edition, it was more or less universally acknowledged that the festival had regained a full-on, holy-moutaintop-of-art luster that was a bit lacking the year before. It helps, of course, to have headline-making movies [...]

  • Aladdin

    'Aladdin' Soaring to $100 Million-Plus Memorial Day Weekend Debut

    Disney’s live-action “Aladdin” remake is on its way to a commendable Memorial Day weekend debut with an estimated $109 million over the four-day period. The musical fantasy starring Will Smith and Mena Massoud should uncover about $87 million in its first three days from 4,476 North American theaters after taking in $31 million on Friday. [...]

  • 180423_A24_Day_03B_0897.jpg

    Robert Pattinson, Willem Dafoe's The Lighthouse' Wins Cannes Critics' Award

    Robert Eggers’ “The Lighthouse,” with Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson, won the Cannes Film Festival critics’ award for best first or second feature in Directors’ Fortnight and Critics’ Week, one of the first prizes for which “The Lighthouse” has been eligible at Cannes. The award was announced Saturday in Cannes by the Intl. Federation of [...]

  • promenade Cannes Croisette Cannes Placeholder

    Cannes Market Claims Record Visitor Numbers

    The Cannes Market, the Cannes Film Festival’s commercial wing, says that its 2019 edition welcomed a record number of participants. It reported 12,527 attendees. The largest group by nationality was from the U.S. with 2,264 participants, followed by France with 1,943 participants, and the U.K. 1,145. Comparable figures for 2018 were not available. The number [...]

  • Editorial use only. No book cover

    'Alien' at 40: Ridley Scott Explains Why 'You Don't Show the Monster Too Many Times'

    It’s difficult to imagine Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror classic “Alien” without the clear-minded, strong presence of Tom Skerritt as Dallas, the captain of the ill-fated Nostromo. But originally, the actor turned down “Alien,” which celebrates its 40th anniversary on May 25, though he thought Dan O’Bannon’s script read well. “There was nobody involved at the time [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content