by Dan Streible
More than coincidence -- it's serendipity.
In class on February 17, we not only referenced Rick Prelinger's work a few times (again), we also looked at a film from his collection, which was bequeathed to his archive by the filmmaker Henry Charles Fleischer in 2010. Shot at the 1960 Robert Flaherty Seminar, the silent 16mm Kodachrome might be called a professional's home movie -- although it's not clear if or when Fleischer ever screened it for others. Seems logical he might have shared it with Frances Flaherty, if not also at a later Flaherty Seminar.
Out of class on February 17, this dropped:
LISTEN HERE: http://www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/the-organist/episode-47-no-more-road-trips
Out of the great radio station KCRW in Santa Monica, California, came episode 47 of the podcast called "The Organist." Rick Prelinger is interviewed (for 18 minutes) by Rob Walker (see robwalker.net/about and @notrobwalker). The web page tease reads:
Although the conversation is mostly about home movies per se and the ongoing screenings of No More Road Trips?, someone decided that the only video that would be embedded in the web page would be hehe's 2011 YouTube posting The 6th Robert Flaherty Film Seminar, 1960 (SILENT). Same thing we watched. (For the record, that YouTube stream is an upload of the MOV or MP4 file ripped from the DVD-R that Prelinger sent to the Seminar; Prelinger Archives made the DVD from Fleischer's original 16mm reversal print. There's not yet a copy available from archive.org.)Archivist, educator and filmmaker Rick Prelinger has a remarkable eye for the unexpected value of ephemera. A massive collection of educational and industrial films he collected under the auspices of the Prelinger Archives was acquired by the Library of Congress, and with his wife, Megan Prelinger, he co-founded the Prelinger Library in San Francisco, stuffed with printed material you’d be unlikely to find elsewhere. More recently he’s been working with old home movies — thousands of them, donated or otherwise acquired. This is basically material nobody else wanted, not even the descendants of whoever made them. He’s used it to build a remarkable series of films – one is made of footage from San Francisco, another from Detroit. Old home movies are mostly silent, and he adds no narration or even a score. Instead, he stands on stage at screenings, riffs about the clips, and encourages viewers to chime in from their seats. This actually works: the audience at Prelinger’s screenings are surprisingly vocal. Prelinger’s most recent is the more broadly themed No More Road Trips? Writer Rob Walker spoke with Prelinger about the film and his career in finding joy and insight in media most people eventually throw away.
Here's the trailer for the Prelinger production: