Orphans X in Culpeper: LOC, NYU highlight lost recordings
by Allison Brophy Champion
Film and sound aficionados from 18 countries are coming to Culpeper this week for a cultural event highlighting neglected and forgotten recordings. The Library of Congress Packard Campus on Mount Pony – repository for the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of moving images and sound recordings – hosts the 10th edition of the biennial Orphan Film Symposium Wednesday through Saturday with a free public event at the State Theatre to end the week.
“Orphans X: Sound,” presented in conjunction with New York University Cinema Studies, is an international gathering of archivists, scholars, filmmakers, curators, preservationists, technical experts and others devoted to saving, studying, and screening “orphan films,” according to Mike Mashon, head of the Library of Congress Moving Image Section. This theme of this year’s program is sound, adding radio and other audio recordings to the mix of film, video and digital media.
Attendees will see and hear works documenting more than a century of history – from the 1912 Edison Kinetophone sound film to the new Austrian feature film, “Dreams Rewired.”
“The program is loaded with fascinating stuff,” he said Monday.
Highlights will include – Media artist Evan Meaney’s Big Sleep (2015), a video about digital preservation and decay; an evening with legendary film restoration expert Robert Gitt presenting “The Sound of Movies, 1933-1972”; Bill Morrison’s previously unreleased 1992 interviews with Howard Walls and Kemp Niver, early curators of the Library’s renowned Paper Print Collection, as well as a presentation of the Library’s newest scanning technologies applied to the paper prints; Jeff Martin’s discovery of an amateur audio recording of an American POW talking over short-wave radio from a Japanese prison camp in 1943; a roundtable report from the Radio Preservation Task Force, a new national effort to unite the efforts of scholars and archivists and an evening of screening by filmmaker Sasha Waters Freyer, recipient of the symposium’s Helen Hill Award for independent artists of distinction.
Mashon expects up to 170 attendees at the week’s sessions in the Packard Theater.
Local benefits of the three-day, four-night event, in addition to culture, will be economic with participants lodging locally and dining – as part of the official program – Thursday night at Shawn’s Smokehouse BBQ and Saturday night at the Culpeper Center.
Orphan X culminates Saturday night at 8 the Culpeper State Theatre with a free public screening of a montage of clips as part of a two-hour program, “Celebrating Sounds from Everywhere: An Orphant Medley.” Following the program, desserts and drinks will be served courtesy of The Frenchman’s Corner of Culpeper and Neuhaus Chocolatier, Old House Vineyards and Prince Michel Vineyard & Winery.
Saturday night at the State Theatre concludes with a “sneak preview/world premiere” at 10:30 of Andy Warhol’s experimental short film from 1965, “Drunk,” with an introduction by Greg Pierce, from The Andy Warhol Museum, and Katie Trainor with The Museum of Modern Art. Patrons are encouraged to donate to the State Theatre’s Education Programs Scholarship Fund.
NYU Associate Professor of Cinema Dan Streible, founding director of the Orphan Film Symposium, programmed this week’s entire event with Mashon.
“We are excited to showcase dozens of rediscovered films, some newly preserved,” Streible said. “Our goal was to feature knowledgeable speakers presenting seldom-seen films and to place those in dialog with the Library of Congress’ unrivaled recorded sound collections as well as its video and film holdings.”
The Packard Campus, a former a Cold War era bunker and Federal Reserve built into the side of Mount Pony, today houses 6.3 million collection items including 1.2 million moving image, 3 million recorded sound and 2.1 million supporting scripts, posters, photos, etc.
Allison Brophy Champion is a news reporter for The Culpeper Star-Exponent. You can contact her at 540-825-0771 ext. 101 or firstname.lastname@example.org.