by the Curator of Unseen Cinema
Without Jonas Mekas and Anthology Film Archives, none of this would have been possible. Many of the films included in Unseen Cinema are not regularly screened as part of Anthology’s "Essential Cinema" repertory. Nonetheless, Jonas made it a priority over the years to acquire and to preserve many of the films presented in Unseen Cinema.
Jonas is also responsible for Robert Haller’s presence at Anthology Film Archives. During the past 30 years, Haller has assisted many individual creative artists associated with the early American avant-garde film. His personal encouragement and daily support of my curatorial and preservation activities has spanned nearly two decades.
Balazs Nyari and the entire staff at Cineric, Inc. are genuine champions of film preservation and restoration. From its inception, Balazs realized the importance of the Unseen Cinema project and remained the most important industry sponsor of the project during the years leading up to the 2001 premiere. His generosity has been astonishingly unlimited. Simon Lund, Technical Director at Cineric, supervised the production of prints and negatives for many of the films in Unseen Cinema.
Winfried Günther of the Deutsches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main, provided the initial motivation to organize the film retrospective. Soon thereafter, film preservationist and historian, David Shepard appeared and since has never really left the project. His tireless support is the major reason these wonderful films are now available. His wealth of experience and generosity is unequaled in all of filmdom.
Heartfelt appreciation is directed to three scholars of early avant-garde film history: Jan-Christopher Horak, the late William Moritz, and Cecile Starr. Each produced important critical studies and made preservation negatives of many early American experimental films. They generously shared their work with me thus preparing the groundwork for the Unseen Cinema retrospectives.
Additional encouragement was provided by film historians and preservationists Kevin Brownlow and Serge Bromberg.
Mention should be made of personal contacts I have had with surviving members of the early American film avant-garde. Among them, memorable experiences were had with Mary Ellen Bute, Elfriede Fischinger, Dwinell Grant, Francis Lee, Jay Leyda, Ted Nemeth, and Ralph Steiner. Steiner taught me how to look at pictures in dark rooms and asked me in 1986 what I intended to do with my life.
Moving away from home, the list of institutional and corporate supporters is long and illustrious.
First and foremost, a heartfelt thanks to all institutions and individuals who loaned films to the Unseen Cinema film and DVD retrospectives. Many of them are formally noted as "Lenders to the Exhibition," while others wish to remain anonymous.
Phillip Murphy and Barry Allen of Paramount Pictures supported and encouraged the inclusion of studio-made films as part of the Unseen Cinema. Their efforts to get the ball rolling in Hollywood proved invaluable to the success of acquisitions for the film and DVD series.
Roger L. Mayer, CEO, of Turner Entertainment Company and his associates George Feltenstein, Julie Heath, Marleen Eastman, the late Judith Singer, and Richard May at Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc. and John Flynn and Melanie Tebb at Hollywood Classics are all applauded for their combined support and generous donations to the project since its inception in 1999.
Gregory Lukow, Patrick Loughney, and Michael Mashon of The Library of Congress, Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division were three important supporters of the film and DVD retrospectives. Michael Mashon handled the correspondences and arrangements, while offering much humor at just the right moments. Kenneth Weissman and George Willeman of the Library’s Motion Picture Conservation Center offered insights into the collection. Madeline Matz provided invaluable research.
Heather Stewart, David Pierce, and Anne Fleming of the British Film Institute National Film, Television and Video Archive made many significant and timely contributions. Shona Barrett handled the film print queries. Jane Hocking helped too. Erich Sargeant and his assistant James White are most responsible for the transition to DVD and its distribution in the United Kingdom. Elaine Burrows and Byrony Dixon offered details regarding the collection.
I am forever indebted to Mary Lea Bandy and Steven Higgins of the Department of Film and Media at The Museum of Modern Art for their generous support of film materials and exhibition clearances; they provided all at the right moments. William Sloane and Kitty Cleary of MOMA’s Circulating Film/Video Library followed suit. Charles Silver made research at the museum a joy. The day in and day out efforts were shouldered by the ever diligent and helpful Anne Mora and Peter Williamson.
Anthony Bannon, Director, of the International Museum of Photography and Film at George Eastman House and Patrick Loughney, Paolo Cherchi Usai, and Jan-Christopher Horak, present and former Senior Film Curators, generously donated to the Unseen Cinema project. Edward Stratmann and Caroline Yeager assisted with research materials and information. Former curators James Card and George Pratt should be recognized for their past efforts.
Thanks are due to Gary Dartnell and Tim Lanza of the The Douris Corporation and Don Krim of Kino International for permission to use Le Retour á la raison; Jeff Goodman of Producer’s Library Service for the use of Oil–A Symphony in Motion; Lawrence Jordan for the use of Joseph Cornell’s films given to him by Cornell for completion; and Ellen Freyer and Lillian Jacobs for the use of Lewis Jacobs’s films and writings.
Special notice is given to the George L.K. Morris Abstract Movie commentary adapted by Gregory Galligan from wall labels used for the exhibition guest curated by Debra Bricker Balken, "The Park Avenue Cubists: Gallatin, Morris, Frelinghuysen and Shaw," at Grey Art Gallery, New York University in 2003.
Acknowledgments are made to the following groups: G. Schirmer Music Publishers, Inc. for permission to use George Antheil’s music for Ballet mécanique; Boosey & Hawkes in cooperation with the Marc Blitzstein estate and the Marc Blitzstein Papers Collection at the Wisconsin Historical Society for permission and materials related to Suite for Surf and Seaweed; Wergo, Schott Music & Media, Mainz, Germany, for permission to use George Antheil’s Sonata Sauvage from the album "The Lost Sonatas" (WER 6661 2) with piano performed by Guy Livingston; David Lewis for providing vintage recordings of circus organ music, Afternoon of a Faun, Skyscrapers, and Danse Macabre; and Russell Merritt for providing the vintage recording that accompanies Dream of a Rarebit Fiend.
Volumes could be written in praise but nothing compares to listening to the wonderful music composed and performed by silent film musicians Eric Beheim, Robert Israel, Neal Kurz, Paul Lehrman, Guy Livingston, Shane Ryan, Rodney Sauer, and Donald Sosin. Thanks to the musicians, current and past, who provided glorious tracks to these deserving films, especially to Donald Sosin and Paul Lehrman, who stood beside me through thick and thin.
The long list of contributing scholars and historians who supplied their knowledge and expertise to the project is acknowledged in various credits listed throughout the programs. Particular thanks are extended to the research performed and shared by Susan Delson, Standish Lawder, Paul Lehrman, Mauro Piccinini, tENT, and Anders Wahlgren on the history of Ballet mécanique. Brian Taves shared a wealth of information on the life and work of Robert Florey.
For over one hundred years, Eastman Kodak Company has supplied filmmakers with the raw materials to make their dreams real. Ann Turner, vice president and general manager of Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division, applied appropriate company resources to both the film and DVD versions of Unseen Cinema.
Finally, but certainly not last, my deepest thanks to the entire staff at Image Entertainment, Chatsworth, California. Image provided seed money and production assistance to facilitate the production of the DVD. Their generous support of Unseen Cinema is a blessing to all who love cinema.
And, once again, a tip of the hat to David Shepard for his thoughtful consultation during the many and varied stages of production, scholarship, and consternation required to prepare the film and DVD retrospectives.
Hanover, New Hampshire
27 June 2005