Over the past few weeks we’ve added a number of digital audio files to the Hollis Frampton Collection.

The newly preserved digital files available include:

-3 cassettes from “Stan Brakhage: Early Reminiscences and Interview, Rollinsville, CO. 1972 Nov. 3”

-2 cassettes from a Hollis Frampton lecture in Chicago in December 1973.

-1 reel to reel audio tape recorded March 17, 1972:  Ken Jacobs and Larry Gottheim discussing films of Hollis Frampton in Ken’s class

These files are available for listening directly in the finding aid for the Harvard community (you must enter a valid Harvard ID), and they are also available for on-site listening on campus.  Any questions on access, check here first!

Just a quick update to announce that the new DVD Aldo Tambellini: Cathodic Works 1966-1976 is now available for viewing at the Fine Arts Library.  View the record in HOLLIS for more info.

Last month four pallets of film arrived from Los Angeles, comprising one of our newest collections, The Fundacion Cinemateca Argentina Collection

a few of the boxes from The Fundacion Cinemateca Argentina Collection

We have a group of staff and interns busy at work processing and cataloging the films, and so far it appears that most items are 35mm and 16mm projection prints of Argentinian films from the 1950s-1980s.  There is also a smaller amount of picture negative and other pre-print material, and most everything is Spanish language.  This is an exciting collection that greatly enhances our holdings in South American cinema.  Once processing is complete, we’ll post a finding aid to OASIS with a list of titles and the films will be available for research use.  In the meantime, here are a few of the titles we uncovered over the past few weeks:

poster for La Calle del Pecado (1954)

poster for Noches sin Lunas ni Soles (1984)

collections update: Karen Aqua

January 25th, 2012

Karen Aqua (1954-2011) started working in animation at the Rhode Island School of Design in the 1970s, and spent much of her career based in Somerville making short films exploring the themes of ritual, journeys, transformation, and the human spirit, as well as regularly contributing animated segments to Sesame Street.  In addition, she taught at a number of local universities, and worked with elementary schools and community groups around New England and beyond teaching animation to children. 

still image from HEAVENLY BODIES

Upon her death from ovarion cancer in 2011, she left a large legacy of award-winning animated films.  This collection, consisting of over 300 film and video items, arrived at the Harvard Film Archive in 2011 and we’ve been working to process the collection since late last year.  For the film, this involves first testing each film for acid deterioration, next inspecting each reel on the film bench and rehousing into archival cans, sending the cans to our climate controlled storage facility, and finally cataloging each item in our local database as well as creating records for Harvard’s online public access database.  We hope to have the collection fully processed by the end of February, with the finding aid appearing in OASIS not long after.  Stay tuned!

an animation test reel from VIS-A-VIS, on the bench ready to be inspected

A Hollis Frampton Odyssey

January 18th, 2012

I’m excited to share the news that The Criterion Collection will be releasing a long-awaited collection of Hollis Frampton’s films in April:  A Hollis Frampton Odyssey.  In addition to all 24 of Frampton’s films, the set also includes some lovely special features.  Among them are audio excerpts of Frampton discussing his work and his performance piece A Lecture, recorded in 1968 with the voice of artist Michael Snow, both from the HFA’s Hollis Frampton Collection.

We’re eagerly awaiting the arrival of our copy in a few months!

We’ve been working on a number of great collections from local filmmakers here at the conservation center in the past few months.  Today I’ll tell you about one in particular:  Aldo Tambellini. 

scan from Aldo Tambellini's BLACKOUT (1966)


The films of Aldo Tambellini represent only a small portion of his creative output.  He is also a sculptor, poet, painter, and video artist who has been creating since the 1960s.  Back in 2010 the Harvard Film Archive presented The Black Films of Aldo Tambellini in our cinematheque and in January 2012 Aldo was the focus of a six program retrospective at the Centre Pompidou in Paris, which included many unseen or rarely-seen works.  In preparation for his most recent show, we worked with Aldo, his partner Anna, and Pia Bolognesi, University of Pisa, and Giulio Bursi, IULM, Milan, both film scholars and curators, to unearth and identify films from Aldo’s archive, many of which had no titles and existed in many varying versions.  A number of the films screening in the retrospective were digitized by technicians at La Camera Ottica Film and Video Restoration Laboratory (University of Udine- DAMS Gorizia), who worked for months especially on the hand-painted works by Tambellini.  The entirety of Aldo’s collection stored at Harvard was fully processed in late 2011, and many of the titles are already searchable in Harvard’s HOLLIS catalog, with an online finding aid to guide researchers through the collection forthcoming in 2012. 

double DVD released by the Italian label VON is now available in Europe, including hours of video experiments by Tambellini from the years 1966 to 1976.  Another DVD compiling Tambellini’s ‘Black Film’ series will be published by French label Re:voir later this year.  The former arrived at the HFA this week, and will be available at the Fine Arts Library for viewing in February, and the latter should be available from the Harvard libraries in 2012.

Stay tuned for more collection updates:  next time, the films of Karen Aqua!

Season’s Greetings!

One of our largest projects of the past few years is nearing completion.  The Lothar and Eva Just Film Stills Collection is in the final stages of processing.  It has been handled in two main batches, the first of which is now search-able through Harvard’s finding aid database, OASIS.

To view the finding aids, search Lothar and Eva Just Film Stills Collection and limit by repository Harvard Film Archive.

If, for instance, you are looking for material for films directed by Frank Capra, you may search by typing Frank Capra into the search field and limit by repository Harvard Film Archive.  One of the results will be the Lothar and Eva Just Film Stills Collection, and you will see there is material for eight of his films and one miscellaneous item.

Due to its large size, the finding aid is split into five parts, organized alphabetically by director’s last name.   The finding aid will be updated again in June when the second and final section of the processing has been completed.  The second portion of the finding aid will list only a director, and not each of the films represented.

The material listed in the finding aid is available for research at Harvard.

Posters from this collection will have their own finding aid.

Kaspers Reise zu den Zwergen, (Hella Mora, 1954, hand colored lobby card, from the Lothar and Eva Just Film Stills Collection)

Kaspers Reise zu den Zwergen, (Hella Mora, 1954, hand colored lobby card, from the Lothar and Eva Just Film Stills Collection)


Kaspers Reise zu den Zwergen, (Hella Mora, 1954, lobby card, from the Lothar and Eva Just Film Stills Collection)


small gauge film storage

December 20th, 2011

We have a number of home movie collections at the HFA and we are always adding more.  Every year we host Home Movie Day, helping the public watch home movies on formats they may not be able to watch at home.

A problem we have come across time and again in these collections is film stored on grey plastic reels that have white stuff on them.  The white stuff can be light or heavy.  It occurs on grey plastic reels, some of which are labeled TENITE.  Tenite is  a wood-based plastic made by Eastman, first developed in 1929.

The white stuff isn’t mold; it’s the result of the plastic decomposing.

Above: decomposing Super 8 and 16mm film reels by Kodak

The decomposing reels smell “like vomit,” a technical description in the wonderful world of plastics.  Weissman Preservation Center staff member Zach Long tested the super 8 reels (which were not marked Tenite), and determined the reels are most likely made of cellulose acetate butyrate.

Above: actively decaying super 8 reels


Above: In early stages of decomposition, the reels have only a small amount of white on them and do not smell.

If you find you have film on grey plastic reels or reels labeled TENITE, we recommend putting them on different reels and throwing the old reels away.

* We recommend wearing plastic gloves when handling these reels! *

Even if the reels are not yet decaying, they are good candidates for this problem.  It is safer to store your films on a different type of reel.  For 8mm or Super 8 we use polystyrene reels, which are not ideal but are better than metal or cellulose acetate butyrate.  Your film will thank you!

Zdenek Miler

December 16th, 2011

From the Just Collection, some images from Zdenek Miler’s Puppy films. This Czech animator is best known for his character the animated mole ‘Krtek’. Miler made over 70 films.

Jak slunícko vrátilo stenátku vodu (1960) AKA How the Sun Returned Water to the Puppy

Jak stenátko chtelo malé pejsky (1960) AKA How the Puppy Wanted Little Dogs

Dawn of the Mummy (Frank Agrama, 1981, USA/Egypt/Italy) lobby card

Please enjoy these scary images, and then go watch some horror movies.  ‘Tis the season!

El jorobado de la Morgue AKA Hunchback of the Morgue (Javier Aguirre, 1973, Spain) lobby card

Monster on Campus (Jack Arnold, 1958, USA) film still

Queen Kong (Frank Agrama, 1976, UK / France / West Germany / Italy) lobby card