Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Most Notable Documentary You've Never Heard Of


Have you seen it? Didn't think so.

Know what it's about? Thought not.

Any idea who made it? Uh huh.

Even heard of it? Right.

KUKAN was the first Oscar winning American documentary feature. It won a Special Academy Award the first year that the Academy created a new award category for docs. It was famous in its day: national newspapers editorialized on its importance in showing the horrors of the Japanese war against China. The film's director, Rey Scott, screened the film to FDR and Eleanor at the White House. Orson Welles proclaimed, "One of the most exciting stories in the world. Everyone should see it." David O. Selznick thought so much of it, that he distributed KUKAN in 35mm, even after the film had already had an extensive run in 16mm. 

Journalist, photographer and adventurer Rey Scott, anative of St. Louis, made several trips to China in the late 1930s and early 40s, filming the land and people, much of it for the first time in color. He also documented the Japanese invasion and the Chinese people's efforts to repel the enemy. His partner in these efforts was Li Ling-Ai, a Chinese American woman from Hawaii. Li Ling-Ai is the focus FINDING KUKAN, a documentary being made by Hawaiian filmmaker (and friend of mine) Robin Lung - http://www.nestedeggproductions.com/ and

The story of KUKAN and its preservation is worthy of detective fiction. This is only the beginning...


Le Maillon et La Chaine, update

THE LINK AND THE CHAIN/LE MAILLON ET LA CHAINE continues with its little surprises. I had a chance to look at the entry sheet when the film was submitted for Academy Award consideration back in 1963. As you may recall from an earlier post, the rules for qualification were considerably different then than they are today. Films did not have to screen in commercial houses in New York and Los Angeles. As I mentioned before, the rules stated, somewhat vaguely that a film only had to be shown, "for the audience for which it was intended." I assumed that in this film's case, that meant movie audiences in France. Well, on the entry form, in the area for "qualifying screening," the producer wrote, "On the S.S. France, somewhere between Le Havre and New York." That's amazing! Not only did the producers believe that this was a "normal" venue to qualify for Awards consideration, but the Academy thought so, too. Of course, this kind of thing could never happen in subsequent years, but it's fun to see that in those days, things were a lot looser.

Today I finished up processing all the material that Brigitte Berg sent from Paris - original picture negative, 35mm optical track negative, 16mm optical track negative, some title elements, and an interpositive of the trailer. In the final can were 10 rolls of timing tapes (for the uninitiated, these are machine-readable paper tapes which relay to a printer the proper color values for each shot). Many times, these tapes are thin and fragile, about the size of 16mm film. These tapes, however, were "heavy stock" paper, and 35mm in size. And they contain their own metal "filters." Though some of my colleagues had seen these before, they were a first for me.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Naked Yoga - Forgotten Oscar Nominee Saved

As Documentay Curator of the Film Archive, one of my jobs is to acquire the best possible film prints of all Oscar Winning and Nominated Documentaries for the collection. NAKED YOGA was nominated for Best Documentary Short in 1974. It consists of scenes of young women doing yoga, both in a studio and outdoors on the island of Cypress, as well as images of Tantric art from the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, with readings from yogic texts.  

For many years, the Film Archive had no copy of this title, I could find very little information about the film, and had never seen it. I first contacted the film's director of photography, Michael Elphick, in June of 2004 (actually, I originally wrote to his agent, who put me in touch with Michael). He only had a PAL Beta SP videotape Since I was only looking for a film print at that point, I didn’t follow up with him on that.  He referred me to the director, Paul Cordsen. Cordsen had no copies on any format, but referred me to a company in Switzerland that had purchased the rights many years earlier. I contacted them, but they only had a 1975 letter from the producer Ronald S. Kass to someone at the company telling them the film had been nominated.

I forgot about the film for several years, and in 2010 had run out of options. But my experience has shown that every longshot is worth taking, and have gotten results from seemingly pointless hunches. I began composing (but never finished) a letter to Joan Collins, who had been married to (now deceased) Kass, thinking that maybe she might have a print or know something about the film. (Collins and Kass had remained close after their divorce).

I then wrote Elphick a letter in June of 2011, just to follow up about his PAL Beta SP, to get a copy - any copy - for the collection, thinking at that point probably no film prints (let alone the negative) survived. He emailed saying that he'd recently been given a print from a TV station. I assumed it would be a beat up, faded 16mm print – meh. He later told me it was actually 35mm (better), but I still assumed it would be pink. 

Michael had no equipment to inspect or screen it, so I arranged for him to look at it with colleagues at the British Film Institute. But this couldn’t happen in London where Michael lived, because none of the BFI facilities there had any viewing equipment. So he drove up to Berkhamsted (an hour away) to have them show him the film. A staff member from the BFI reported the film to be in okay shape, but that was about it.  I arranged for them to send the print to the Academy so we could copy it for preservation purposes. I was still thinking that it would be faded, and that we’d need to spend a ton of money doing a digital restoration.

The print arrived, and the second I unwound the leader and down to the picture, I saw that it was an IB Technicolor print, which of course had retained its original color. I was surprised that neither Michael nor my BFI pals mentioned this. Additionally, I discovered that it was in fantastic shape, something they also didn’t tell me.

Joe Lindner, the Film Archive’s Preservation Officer, arranged to have a new preservation negative and new 35mm print made from this sole known surviving film print. And it looks pretty damn good, as you can see from this frame scans. We were that close to losing this Oscar nominated film, on film.

There are several interesting aspects to this film. It’s a real period piece, with the yoga content, the psychedelic music, the long lap dissolves, and unique special effects. The sequences of the Tantric art were made using an audio input, e.g., music soundtrack which created the multiple echo images (audio feed back) recorded onto a 2" video tape recorder. The resulting manipulated images were then transferred out to 35mm film. There was only one machine like this, called a "Cox Box," at the BBC.

The narrator is Alexis Korner – a musician, guitarist, and DJ, known as a "Founding Father of British Blues,” a major influence on the British music scene of the 1960s. I asked Cordsen why he chose Korner to narrate, assuming there had been some connection between 60s British blues and yoga; maybe like the Beatles, Korner was a follower of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. No, Cordsen said, he just liked the sound of Korner's voice, asked him to do it, and that was it.

This is truly a forgotten title in the history of Oscar nominated films, and in documentary film history in general. Below, a picture of me presenting the newly preserved film for the first time publicly, at Orphans West, aka The Real Indies, in May of 2013. - http://www.oscars.org/events-exhibitions/events/2013/05/real-indies.html

Monday, July 22, 2013

It occurred to me that some of you reading this may not know who I am, or why I am qualified to say anything about documentaries. I am the Documentary Curator of the Academy of Motion Pictures Film Archive, where I've been for the past 19 1/2 years. Prior to that, I worked for 7 3/4 years at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and my first job out of NYU Cinema Studies at the Museum of Modern Art, was for about 5 years.

At the Academy, my job is, in a nutshell, to acquire, protect and make available documentaries. The Film Archive has a large collection of films of all types - features, shorts, animation, experimental, foreign, silent era, docs and home movies. We have several large climate-controlled vaults in the heart of Hollywood, located in the Pickford Center for Motion Picture Study, where we moved in 2002. Our previous home was the Academy's Fairbanks Center on La Cienega in Beverly Hills. (I could write a substantial history of the Film Archive's expansion over the past 20 years, but that needs to wait for another post. Our staff numbered 4 when I began, and is now over 30. I can also write a history of the film archival work at the Academy during the past 65 years, but again, for later...) Academy Film Archive

My first priority is films that have been nominated for or won Academy Awards, and any films made by filmmakers so nominated or awarded. Otherwise my mandate is pretty broad, and I have brought in collections from all kinds of filmmakers, some whose films have not even screened much theatrically, such as those of Robert Drew. Bob's collection is the largest collection I've ever dealt with, and probably the largest one in the Film Archive's history (again, I need another post to detail the Archive's acquisition of Bob's collection). In addition to Bob's films, during my tenure we have also gotten the collections of Albert and David Maysles, Charles Guggenheim, Robert Snyder, Barbara Kopple, and many others.

A 2007 National Archives tribute to Robert and Anne Drew. Scholar Ron Sutton (left), Anne and Bob, and me.
 NARA Drew salute

Early in my Academy career, I attempted in most cases to acquire good prints of films not in our collection. Later on, and more especially recently, the focus has been the acquisition of the best surviving materials, and the original negative if possible. The transition away from film has meant that labs and film storage companies have been closing down, thus endangering the status of many, many film negatives.

When I started, for a variety of reasons (yet another post!!) the Academy did not have good copies of all the doc winners, to say nothing of the nominees (more posts on both of these!) Progress was slow, but the turning point came in 2005, with the creation of the "Oscar's Docs" screening series, the first complete retrospective of Oscar winning documentaries ever. This forced me and my Archive colleagues (especially Preservation Officer Joe Lindner) to find good quality film prints for all the screenings (over a 6 year period), which we were able to do for virtually all the films. In some cases, the original materials were still around and in good condition, so we just arranged to strike a new print. However, with many of the films, it was often a long and complicated process just to locate any decent surviving material, if it existed at all. In the most extreme case, for PROJECT HOPE (1961), the Academy held the only known surviving copy of any kind, a badly faded 16mm print, which we restored digitally. At this moment, all but a handful of Oscar winning documentaries have been properly preserved for the future.

A 2006 screening of the Oscar Winning doc THE ELEANOR ROOSEVELT STORY, with Jane Alexander (far left); the film's director, Richard Kaplan (next to her), me, and Franklin Roosevelt III (right)

Since the end of the "Oscar's Docs" series in 2010, I have turned my attention to the nominees. There are only about 150 winners, but over 500 nominees, so this is a much bigger task. There are many titles on which the Academy has no copies, only video, or inferior film copies. Finding the best surviving material (which could be the original or duplicate negative, but maybe a less-than-satisfactory 16mm print, as with PROJECT HOPE), can be quite a detective project, sometimes taking years to accomplish. Almost all these films are "orphans," meaning that they don't have a film studio or powerful and/or wealthy filmmaker taking care of them. There are so many kinds of "makers" or "owners" of the nominees - people who only made one film, people to whom film was a sideline, companies or institutions with little film expertise or interest. Often the filmmakers have died, or the organizations have ceased to exist or sold one or more times to larger entities. It's a sad fact, and I hope to be proven wrong, but I believe that a few nominated docs may be lost - NO surviving copies of any kind. And the documentary awards categories began in 1941, so we're not talking about lost films from the silent era; these are relatively "modern" titles. My research on some titles have turned up virtually no leads on the whereabouts of even a print, let alone negative. For two or three titles - I don't even know what the films are about!

That's a thumbnail sketch of my background and what I'm up to, with more details to follow.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

John Hampton and the Silent Movie Theater

The Silent Movie Theater, with films stacked on the seats. Notice the ghostly figure of Eric Aijala moving across the screen.

In 1988, the UCLA Film and Television Archive was interested in acquiring the silent film collection of John Hampton, and sent Eric Aijala and myself to the theater to inspect the collection. The films were all stored in boxes, mostly stacked on the theater seats. For two weeks, we wound through every single print in John's collection and made reports on their condition. (Eric and I started at UCLA about the same time, and I was initially hired as a three month temp, a new transplant from New York City. Eric and I worked side by side in those early days, and when I worried aloud of my prospects if my position didn't become permanent, Eric's helpful refrain would be, "You could always go flip burgers." I eventually learned to appreciate Eric's sense of humor.)

John Hampton checking some of his films

John was an amazing character, a significant figure in the film history of Los Angeles. He and his wife Dorothy started Silent Movie in the early 1940s, because John felt that silent films should continue to be screened and enjoyed. He developed a huge library of 16mm prints, some of which he tinted and toned himself. He projected the films, and created his own soundtracks by simultaneously playing records from his huge collection of 78 records. The theater operated until 1980.

A proud John Hampton in his projection booth.

While Eric and I wound through the films, John regaled us with stories of the films, the way he worked, and the Hollywood greats who often came to his theater. Damn, I wish I'd had thought to record his stories for posterity, and only took a handful of pictures. I now only remember a few of them. He said that some of the giants (it may have been Chaplin or Lloyd or Keaton - I don't recall), would come incognito, disguised in dark glasses and big hats, and sit in the back of the theater. He told a story of Mae West, who lived and I believed owned an apartment building on Rossmore. She looked out her window one day and saw that the building directly across the street was being painted a color she hated, and so just bought the building, so she could paint it the color she liked.

Eric inspecting one of John's films

After our project was completed, David Packard agreed to purchase the entire collection and place it at UCLA. It contained many rare and in some cases unique items, which have proven very valuable to their preservation program. Two years later, John died, and the theater experience a period of pretty crazy events, including the murder of its subsequent owner.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Saving Films at DuArt

As many of you may already know, I have been working since early this year on the Great DuArt Rescue Project, so-called, in which several U.S. film archives have been collaborating with DuArt in New York to rescue films they've been storing, in most cases for decades. DuArt's film processing business closed a couple years ago, and they've now decided to close their film storage as well. My good friend and colleague Sandra Schulberg, who know the folks at DuArt well, and I have talked about the DuArt situation for the past couple of years, and knew the day would come when DuArt could no longer keep their films.

For those of you who don't know about DuArt, it is one of the great film companies, and institutions, in the history of film. It would take me a book to go into just how much Irwin Young and this company have meant to independent filmmakers not only in New York, but around the world, for several decades. Not to mention their technical innovations. They are yet another sad example of the transition away from film that Analog Image Lovers are now suffering through.

With Sandra's help, I began communicating with folks at DuArt to see what the situation was, and if the film archives could be of help. I first discussed things with Andy Young, Irwin's nephew (and Oscar nominated doc filmmaker), who helped to get things moving. I then got in touch with colleagues at the Museum of Modern Art, George Eastman House, the UCLA Film and Television Archive, and the Library of Congress, to see if they would be interested in bringing films into their collections. Since there was no accessible master list or database of exactly what DuArt had, we had to go to their vaults and check the shelves in person. DuArt, in the person of the fantastic Steve Blakely, had been trying to contact filmmakers for several years to ask them to retrieve their films, so many films were already gone. However, thousands of films remained - we just didn't know what was there.

In early April, my Academy colleague Brian Drischell and I went to New York, as did  representatives of MOMA, GEH, Anthology Film Archives, and others representing various film institutions, to look through all of DuArt's vaults, to identify exactly what was there, and tag those films which each institution was interested in bringing into their collection. As I mentioned, Steve had been valiantly trying for some time to contact filmmakers, but in many cases their contact information was out of date. One problem we encountered was that information in the boxes was incomplete or misleading - the title may have been a production-only title, and the name could have been the person or company that originally placed the elements there, not necessarily the director or producer. I should say here that practically everything we saw at DuArt were pre-print elements: original or printing picture and track negatives.

As we looked through the shelves, we were amazed at what we saw: though the majority of titles were unfamiliar, we did see the original negatives of many, many famous independent films. I was excited to see several Oscar nominated documentaries - some that I knew ahead of time would be there, but many others were a surprise. I also came across some industrials made by Oscar nominated documentarians. Contained in these vaults was a vast array of film types, everything from student films made at NYU and other New York City schools, documentaries, industrials, shorts, animation, promotional films (some from Nebraska and elsewhere in the Midwest), foreign films, and famous and not-so-famous independent features.

All the archives went through and selected films they thought appropriate for their collections. They often had existing relationships with certain filmmakers, or collections into which some films would natural fit. We developed a huge master list of titles, and there was some overlap, as particularly significant titles generated interest from more than one archive. But this was a rescue mission, and we collegially distributed all such titles.

Of course, we want to save these films, and give them good homes, but for the most part they do belong to individuals or companies, even the major studios. Some titles are in the public domain, or their owners are either defunct (companies) or deceased (individuals). But most belong to someone, and the archives need to try to contact them. I have personally contacted over 100 filmmakers to let them know that their films are at DuArt, and they will be going to one or another film archive, unless they desire otherwise. The vast majority, perhaps 90%, of the filmmakers that I've contacted, had no idea their films were there. Some, sadly, were either unwilling, unable, or uninterested to deal with their films, and some told Steve to throw their stuff away!  Luckily DuArt and the film archives have been working together to avoid disposing of any films. I understand that NYU has decided to take all the student films not selected by the archives.

One caveat: the archives have only take a fraction, perhaps a third, of the remaining films at DuArt. It is not known at this time (not by me, anyway) what the fate is for those films. There has been much discussion that one person or another might take them, but so far, nothing is for certain.

Le Maillon et La Chaine, Part II

Solving the mystery of this film begins with the synopsis I mentioned in  my last post, from the film's original press materials. Here it is, in full (note that I said last time that the protagonist was Henri, but it's Bernard):

"Bernard, a Parisian like thousands of other Parisians, dreams of getting away from it all to live in freedom. He goes off to the Pacific in search of a new Eden and finds it: first having visited Tahiti and New Caledonia, on the tiny little island of Mouli in the Loyalty archipelago.
250 people inhabit this island, at the far edge of the world, living a sort of primitive communism. Bernard, the only white man, is welcomed according to the laws which govern Polynesian hospitality. During the course of generously open-handed feast, he is admitted to membership of the tribe; a hut and a boat are built for him.
Bernard leads a carefree existence among the natives. The latter ride half-wild horses, dive from the dizzy heights off the cliffs, harpoon sharks with mad abandon. Will Bernard ever be able to equal them and adapt himself to the new way of life?
Sometimes he has fits of nostalgia for the world he has left behind.
Meanwhile gossip about "the man from Paris" spreads. Having congratulated the baker on his daughter's beauty, his homage is taken seriously and wedding presents are left in front of his hut. He is face to face with another society, with its own rites and its own laws. Will Bernard conform to them and marry the young woman? Will he be capable of breaking with his former existence? He feels that he is a prisoner without really knowing it, a link in a chain which he cannot break without breaking in the process."

That tells us what the film is about. But what else do we know? My search for both the film and its director, Bernard Gorsky, on ProQuest turned up only two hits in the NY Times for the period between 1963 and 1965, and those were only the announcement of its nomination. So far, it seems as if the film was never released in the United States. "But how can that be?" you ask, "Don't films have to screen in LA and NY to qualify for the Academy Awards?" Not in 1963, they didn't. The rules of the documentary awards have changed over the years, and during this period, films only had to be screened "for the audience for which they were intended," which in this case means people in France.

A side note: many films nominated during these years never had a US theatrical release. Some played on (gasp!) television prior to theatrical release (or not in theaters at all), or overseas only. The list of these kind of films includes several USIA or other government films, which could not be legally shown in the US. Charles Guggenheim's Oscar winning NINE FROM LITTLE ROCK (1964) is such a film. I've seen a period letter from Guggenheim to one of the Little Rock Nine, sadly telling them he thinks it may be impossible for him to show the film to this person, because of the very strong legal barrier against ANY domestic screening.

Side note #2: coincidentally, in an effort to encourage the submission of more foreign docs, the Documentary Awards Committee changed the rule in 1963 regarding exhibition standards for qualification. Beginning with the 17th Awards for 1944 films, submitted films had had to screen in the United States to qualify.

Thus, it's possible that LA MAILLON has never screened in the United States! Certainly an English language version was created at least for submission purposes for the Documentary Awards Committee to screen; as I've mentioned before, probably dubbed and not subtitled. It's likely that the film's producers did so, in anticipation of a US release, which they probably assumed they'd get after the film was nominated. I'll continue my research on this, and have asked Brigitte to see what she can find out. But if the Film Archive preserves LA MAILLON, we could have the US premiere, 50 years late!
What of the filmmakers? So far, I've found out a bit about Marcel Ichac, one of the producers. He and fellow MAILLON producer Paul de Roubaix also produced THE OCCURRENCE AT OWL CREEK BRIDGE (LA RIVIERE DU HIBOU, based on the famous Ambrose Bierce story) which won a Live Action Short Oscar the same year as MAILLON's nomination.
(Side note: like thousands - perhaps millions - of other American schoolkids, I remember well seeing OCCURRENCE in 16mm in class, during the Golden Age of educational film.)

According to Wikipedia and other sites, Ichac was quite an individual. As an adventurer and filmmaker, he traveled the globe, making films on mountaineering, the polar regions, and undersea life (with Jacques Cousteau). He produced the first Cinemascope film made in France, and first brought electronic music to film, in 1936. He supposed ran in the NY Marathon until age 80.

I've neglected to mention that Brigitte Berg and the Film Archive have a well established relationship. Back in 2008 (I believe), she deposited the original negative of CHAGALL, which coincidentally won the Oscar for Best Documentary Short the same year as MAILLON's nomination. We've preserved CHAGALL, and it looks amazing - the color is truly fabulous. It's a terrific film, with fine narration by noted art collector Vincent Price.
(By the way, the Film Archive has also preserved - with UCLA - the Doc Feature winner from 1963, ROBERT FROST: A LOVER'S QUARREL WITH THE WORLD. This film also did not have a theatrical run before its nomination, and showed originally on TV, produced by WGBH.

As you can see, there is a lot of interesting history about the nominated and winning docs over the years. These are but a few examples of the research and preservation stories related to nominees and winners that I've dealt with over the years. I hope to be able to relate more of them here, and I'm sure I'll come across more such tales in the future.

Le Maillon et La Chain, Part 1

Welcome to my new blog. I'm going to write mostly about what films I'm working with, but may stray into more personal stuff occasionally. I'd like to start with THE LINK AND THE CHAIN (LE MAILLON ET LA CHAINE), a 1963 Oscar nominated documentary.

Until recently, the Film Archive had no holdings on this title, and all I knew about it was from the synopsis I located on a some press material for the film located in the "Doc Awards Book," - the "Bible" of collected materials for each year of the documentary Academy Awards, held at the Margaret Herrick Library. I found this while I was researching the "Oscar's Docs" retrospective several years ago. Also some years ago, I had asked my then-colleague Alice Moscoso to use her contacts in France to see if we could acquire a print of this film for our collection. She did track down the owners of the elements, and they supplied an estimate to make a new print from their elements. At the time, we didn't have the funds to follow up, and the film slipped off my radar screen. A couple months ago, Alice emailed me out of the blue and said she had run into her friend and ex-colleague, Brigitte Berg, head of the Les Documents Cinématographiques in Paris, (http://www.lesdocs.com) who said that she had acquired the original negative of LE MAILLON. Brigitte soon emailed me and asked if we would be interested in storing these materials, and of course I said yes. (A side note: Brigitte asked me if we had a copy of the film THE HOME WE LOVE, directed by Alain Pol. I said we did, as part of our Marshall Plan film collection. She had acquired the Pol's films, and had done a short interview with him. (More on the Marshall Plan films here: http://www.sellingdemocracy.org/ and the Academy Collection here: http://www.oscars.org/filmarchive/collections/marshallplan.html)

The materials were shipped to the Film Archive, and I began to inspect and inventory them. Included were a 35mm negative, 35mm optical track negative, 16mm track negative, and several small cans of title and trailer elements. The first item on the agenda was to determine what the negative was. The cans were of course labeled in French, but the element terms were just abbreviations (BIM, NIM, etc.) , so I couldn't even begin to translate them (my college French is pretty thin). Even the original vault manifest Brigitte sent me used only the abbreviated code designations. Brigitte did tell me that this was the original negative, but anyone who's ever worked in an archive knows, that you can't know for sure until you actually look at the element yourself (and sometimes not even then!). I first wound through reel 6, which was color negative, with splices at every shot, and timing notches at every splice. The Kodak edge codes indicated the stock dated from 1972. What? Certainly the splices indicated this was probably an original negative, but what's up with the stock year? After consulting with colleagues, we figured that this code was probably just incorrect. (For you stock code geeks: Kodak stock codes did vary from country to country in which they were manufactured prior to 1951, but the codes were standardized worldwide after that.) The idea that the stock code was wrong was confirmed by the fact that other reels had codes from 1965, 1970, 1971, and 1973. That's truly unusual.

The next unusual aspect to appear: reel 1 was black and white. Of course it's not that unusual to mix color and b/w these days, and the combination goes back to WIZARD OF OZ. But for this to occur in a documentary from 1963 - pretty interesting. All the other 9 reels were color. The film describes the journey of Henri, who tired of modern urban life in Paris, and like Gaughin before him, takes off for the South Seas in search of a simpler life. It made sense that reel 1 consisted of dreary black and white footage of Paris, and the film turned to color when our friend Henri arrives in Paradise. Reel 1 had another surprise: the main title card read LE DERNIERE ILE, a title which had appeared on the French vault manifest, but was otherwise unfamiliar to me. I later discovered this alternate title on some websites. There was also a small extra reel inside the Reel 1 can, which turned out to be the main title section, this time with the familiar LE MAILLON title. Alas, there was no English track included in this collection, and it was likely that the version shown for the Awards process back in 1963 was dubbed rather than subtitled. Brigitte is looking for an English track in Paris. It's possible we may have to do our own translation and create new subtitles. I've also asked Brigitte to find a reference copy, even of the French version, so that we can at least look at the film! I have made a few frame scans, which you can see here. The color looks pretty good and not at all faded. The negative is in very good shape, with some light base scratches that you can't actually see in the scans. But what is LE MAILLON ET LA CHAINE, and who made it?

You'd think that an Oscar nominated documentary would be more widely known, if not necessarily available. Sadly, my research on the history of Oscar nominated (and winning) docs is that many of them often vanished, both physically and culturally, after their brief moment of glory. I've been trying to do what I can about the physical part (with some success, but there are over 500 nominated doc shorts and features, and a large percentage of them may not survive with good quality film material, and unbelievably, some may not exist at all). About the cultural part - who will tackle that one?