Treasures from American Film Archives

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Cover design from the More Treasures DVD boxed set.

The Treasures From American Film Archives series of DVDs is produced by the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF), a nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress in 1997. The NFPF publishes these DVD sets, with accompanying booklets and extensive commentary, to promote public access to the films preserved by the American archival community.

The NFPF’s inaugural DVD set — Treasures from American Film Archives, issued in 2000 — was the first video anthology sampling the range of films preserved by American cultural institutions. Featuring home movies, avant-garde films, documentaries, government films, cartoons, newsreels, political ads, and silent-era narratives saved by 18 archives from Alaska to West Virginia, the set presented 50 historically significant works that had never been available before on video. By providing these examples on video, the set helped popularize the idea of the orphan film. When the first edition went out of print in 2005, it was reissued as the Encore edition.

Since 2000, the NFPF has issued four other box sets, each with a specific theme. More Treasures from American Archives, 1894-1931 showcases the creative range of American motion pictures in their first four decades through examples preserved by the nation's leading silent-film archives. It was the first NFPF set to feature audio commentary. Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 looks at socially inflected films during the formative years cinema, when virtually no issue was too controversial for the big screen. Treasures IV:American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986 is the first multi-artist survey of the avant-garde film movement in the years following World War II. Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938 explores how the West was imagined and documented in early cinema.

To date, five sets of DVDs present 214 films on 16 discs for a total run time of 2,861 minutes (47.7 hours). All NFPF-produced sets are region-free and playable around the world. These sets are:

  • Treasures from American Film Archives: 50 Preserved Films (2000), 50 films on 4 discs.
  • More Treasures from American Film Archives, 1894-1931 (2004), 50 films on 3 discs.
  • Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 (2007), 48 films on 4 discs.
  • Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986 (2008), 26 films on 2 discs.
  • Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938 (2011), 40 films on 3 discs.

A sixth box set is in production: Treasures 6: Next Wave Avant-Garde, and scheduled for release in 2013 with the following titles: Report by Bruce Conner, Radio Adios by Henry Hills, Hi-Fi Cadets by Lewis Klahr, A Visit to Indiana by Curt McDowell and Ted Davis, Plumb Line by Carolee Schneemann and 11 thru 12 by Andrea Callard. [1]

The DVD sets[edit]

Treasures from American Film Archives: 50 Preserved Films (2000)[edit]

  • Number of discs: 4
  • Number of Films: 50
  • Date range: 1893-1985
  • Total Run Time: 642 min (10.7 hrs)
  • Narrator: Laurence Fishburne
  • Booklet: 150-page book of program notes

Select reviews:

  • Farnsworth, E (January 15, 2001). "Saving Orphan Films," NewsHour. [2]
  • Klein, J (May 27, 2005). "'Treasures' returns as sequel and encore," Chicago Tribune. [3]

The films:
Disc 1

Disc 2

Disc 3

Disc 4

More Treasures from American Film Archives, 1894-1931 (2004)[edit]

  • Number of discs: 3
  • Number of Films: 50
  • Date range: 1894-1931
  • Total Run Time: 573 min
  • Booklet: 200 page illustrated book with film notes and credits

Four feature films (over an hour in length) are included in this set; also: 46 short advertisements, documentaries, promotional and educational films, and some surprisingly good early experiments with color and sound.

Select reviews:

  • Schwartz, L (January 4, 2005). "More Treasures from American Film Archives," Fresh Air. [4]

The films:

Disc 1

Disc 2

Disc 3

Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934 (2007)[edit]

  • Number of discs: 4
  • Number of Films: 48
  • Date range: 1900-1934
  • Total Run Time: 738 min (12.3 hrs)
  • Booklet: 200 page illustrated book with film notes and credits

Exposing abuse or lampooning reform, films in the early 20th century put a human face on social problems and connected with audiences in a new way. Topics include: prohibition, abortion, unions, atheism, the vote for women, organized crime, loan sharking, juvenile justice, homelessness, police corruption, immigration—in their first decades, movies brought an astonishing range of issues to the screen.

Select reviews:

  • Corliss, R (October 16, 2007). "Treasures III: Social Issues in American Film, 1900-1934," TIME. [5]
  • Ellerson, L (October 16, 2007). "A Reality Check From a Century Past," ABC News. [6]

The films:
Disc 1 – “The City Reformed”

Disc 2 – “New Women”

Disc 3 – “Toil and Tyranny”

Disc 4 – “Americans in the Making”

Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986 (2008)[edit]

  • Number of discs: 2
  • Number of Films: 26
  • Date range: 1947-1986
  • Total Run Time: 312 min (5.2 hrs)
  • Booklet: 70-page book of program notes; forward by Martin Scorsese

Independent cinema from Bruce Baillie to Andy Warhol, artists who worked outside the mainstream and redefined American film are collected in this set. An array of films never before released on VHS or DVD with styles ranging from animation to documentary are showcased in this collection of classics and rediscoveries, selected from five of the nation's foremost avant-garde film archives.

Select reviews:

  • Henderson, B (March 3, 2009). "Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film (1947-1986)," Slant Magazine. [7]
  • Lim, D (March 1, 2009). "Avant-garde film gems in 'Treasures IV' collection," The Los Angeles Times. [8]

The films:

Disc 1

Disc 2

Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938 (2011)[edit]

  • Number of discs: 3
  • Number of Films: 40
  • Date range: 1898-1938
  • Total Run Time: 596 min (9.9 hrs)
  • Booklet: 132-page book

A set celebrating the dynamic, gender-bending, ethnically diverse West that flourished in early motion pictures, including both narrative and nonfiction films; travelogues from 10 western states Kodachrome home movies; newsreels about Native Americans; and documentaries and industrial films about such Western subjects as cattle ranching.

Select reviews:

  • Kehr, D (September 23, 2011). "The West, When It Was Still Wild," New York Times. [9]

The films:
Disc 1

Disc 2

Disc 3

Awards for the Treasures DVDs[edit]

2000

  • National Society of Film Critics' Film Heritage Award

2001

  • Video Software Dealers Associations's Best of Show Non-Theatrical Award

2004

  • National Society of Film Critics' Film Heritage Award

2005

  • Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival, Best DVD Series

2009

  • National Society of Film Critics' Film Heritage Award
  • Il Cinema Ritrovato Festival, Best Avant-Garde Publication

2011

  • True West Magazine, Best Classic Western DVD

Film archives participating in the series[edit]

References[edit]

http://www.undergroundfilmjournal.com/sneak-preview-treasures-vi-next-wave-avant-garde/

External links[edit]