Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Spring 2004 Newsletter

Ransom Center Hosts American Avant-Garde Film Series


From February 12 through March 11, 2004, the Harry Ransom Center presents Unseen Cinema: Early American Avant-Garde Film 1893-1941, the first-ever retrospective of the pre-WWII avant-garde film movement in America.

Aseries of 50- to 90-minute screenings featuring more than 100 rare but restored and preserved 35mm and 16mm films, Unseen Cinema surveys the singular but overlooked accomplishments of cinematic pioneers during the formative period of American film.

Since its world premiere at the 23rd Moscow International Film Festival and its U.S. premiere at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, Unseen Cinema has been screened at such venues as the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. and the Los Angeles Film Forum, showing internationally in cities such as London, Paris, Sydney, and Madrid as well. It has never been screened in Texas -- until now.

Many of these films have not been presented since their creation over a century ago. Some had never before been screened in public and almost none have been available in pristine projection prints until now. Comprehensively, the series strongly reminds us of the history and the artistic triumphs that can be revealed through preservation, or lost through complacency.

A leader in film history and preservation in the region, the Ransom Center has extensive film holdings that are in dire need of conservation -- like many film archives worldwide. As an accomplishment and celebration of film preservation itself, Unseen Cinema is also intended to raise awareness of the urgent need to save this important part of our cultural heritage for future generations.

A collaborative film preservation project, Unseen Cinema was organized by Anthology Film Archives, New York, and Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, and sponsored by Cineric, Inc.  

-Oliver Franklin & Steve Wilson

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