Monthly Archives: October 2014

ORWO at the End of the World

Depending on who you talk to, motion picture film is either dead, floundering, or very much alive.

In the past year, Kodak has announced the discontinuation of several 16mm stocks. Deluxe and Technicolor have closed their main film production labs and auctioned off all their equipment. (We got a couple splicers, other forward-thinking institutions purchased what they could, and much was scrapped). Seeing a first-run movie in 35mm is now such a rarity that we drove all the way to Madison to see the Liam Neeson thriller Non-Stop on film. (Chicago’s last remaining 35mm-only second-run house, The Brew & View, announced its own digital conversion two weeks ago.)

At the same time Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, and others convinced major studios to place enough minimum orders with Kodak to keep film-on-film production a possibility for at least a few more years. Nolan’s Interstellar will open two days early on 35mm, 70mm, and 70mm IMAX, and the Weinstein Company announced that Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight would see the widest 70mm release in 20 years (presumably referencing Ron Howard’s Far and Away). On the other side of the world, Film Ferrania (a new company resurrecting equipment from the old Ferrania film factory) in Italy launched a  $250,000 Kickstarter campaign (so far wildly successful) to reopen their film production facilities and start producing color reversal film–both 35mm and medium format still camera film, as well as Super8 and 16mm motion picture film.

Earlier this fall we spoke to George Campbell of ORWO North America, the North American sales division of ORWO FilmoTec GmbH. For the past three years ORWO North America has been making black and white motion picture and sound recording film available in 16mm and 35mm to archives, amateurs, and filmmakers. At a time when the future of motion picture film is at best uncertain, ORWO presents a welcome light at the end of the tunnel, and is one of the many groups working to change in dialogue from the wimpy “film is not dead yet” to “film is alive.” Continue reading

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Home Movie Day 2014

Saturday, October 18, 11am to 3pm • Free Admission
Chicago History Museum • 1601 N. Clark St. (Guild Room)

Better-Living_2014Co-presented with Chicago Film Archives

Home movies provide invaluable records of our families and our communities: they document vanished storefronts, questionable fashions, adorable pets, long-departed loved ones, and neighborhoods-in-transition. Many Chicagoans still possess these old reels, passed down from generation to generation, but lack the projection equipment to view them properly and safely. That’s where Home Movie Day comes in: you bring the films, and we inspect them, project them, and offer tips on storage, preservation, and video transfer–all free of charge. And best of all, you get to watch them with an enthusiastic audience, equally hungry for local history. We’re also very fortunate to have silent film pianist extraordinaire, David Drazin, on-site to tastefully accompany your moving histories.

Chicago Home Movie Day is dedicated to YOUR home movies. From 11:00AM until 1:30PM archivists and projectionists will inspect and project all celluloid home movies that walk in the door. We encourage all providers of these gems to introduce their films to an eager HMD audience. From 1:30PM to 3:00PM, there will be a curated screening of home movies from the CFA and NWCFS collections that spotlight Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood and local railroads & trains. Highlights include a pet city goat named P.D. (short for Prosperity/ Depression), toddlers tumbling down the boulevard and a “League of American Wheelmen” cycle train excursion to Beloit, Wisconsin. Do you have any celluloid home movies that fit our themes? Even if they don’t, we’d love to include them! Give CFA a call at 312-243-1808 or just show up with those 8mm, Super8mm or 16mm reels.

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