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“Orphans Eve”
Wednesday, September 25th

Academy Foundation Visiting Artist Program

An evening with film composer David Raksin

USC School of Music, Recital Hall,
7:30 p.m. (free, and open to all)

       A student of Schoenberg and collaborator with the likes of Stravinsky, Stokowski and Gershwin,
David Raksin began his career in movie music when Charlie Chaplin hired him to work on Modern Times (1936). He has gone on to score more than 100 features, ranging from the film noir Force of Evil (1948) to Nicholas Ray’s melodrama Bigger than Life (1956), from Vincente Minnelli’s Hollywood exposé The Bad and the Beautiful (1952) to ABC-TV’s landmark The Day After (1983). His haunting song “Laura” (written for the 1944 film Laura) has become a standard, recorded more than 400 times. A professor of Scoring for Motion Pictures and Television at the University of Southern California since 1956, Raksin has also written for more than 300 television programs. For National Public Radio he wrote, narrated and conducted interviews for the series “The Subject Is Film Music,” a 64-hour oral history of the profession of film composing. For CBS News, he wrote and narrated the documentary Camera Three: Bernard Herrmann.
        Maestro Raksin has been an advocate and expert on music rights, serving on the boards of ASCAP, the Society of Composers and Lyricists, and the Film Music Society. An 8-term president of the Composers and Lyricists Guild, he currently advises the Library of Congress as a member of the National Film Preservation Board.
       Don’t miss this opportunity to hear from a major figure in the past seven decades of film sound, as David Raksin discusses his career in film music and presents excerpts from his work. As a prelude to Orphans III, he will address important issues facing the preservation, archiving and understanding of the often-neglected soundtracks that accompany motion pictures.

Thursday, September 26th – Saturday, September 28th
School of Music Recital Hall (a VR look inside)
Welcome (9-9:15)    

EARLY SOUND (9:15 - 11)

David Pierce (British Film Institute), “British DeForest Phonofilm Recordings of the Music Hall Tradition”

Ken Weissman (Library of Congress), “Eubie Blake, Eddie Cantor & Calvin Coolidge: Restoring De Forest Phonofilms, 1922-25”

William O’Farrell (National Archives of Canada), moderator and respondent


NEWSREELS (11:15 - 12:45)

Bob Heiber ( Chace Productions), "The Sound of Newsreels: Issues for Preservation & Restoration"

Ray Edmondson (
Archive Associates, Canberra) "Cinesound Review & Kodoka Front Line (Australia, 1942)”



Kristy Andersen (Bay Bottom News), “On Making BlackSouth: The Life Journey of Zora Neale Hurston”

Arlene Balkansky (Library of Congress), “"Zora Neale Hurston and the Beaufort, South Carolina Church Footage: The Recovery of Sound and Film"

Elaine Charnov (Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival), “Hurston’s Films as Performative Visual Anthropology”


GERMANY (4-5:45)

Frances Guerin (University of Kent, England) "Perpetrator Images and The Third Reich in Colour (2001)"

Kay Hoffmann (
Documentary Film Center, Stuttgart), “Röntgenstrahlen (Germany, 1937): Talking X-Ray Films”

Joachim Polzer (
Polzer Media Group GmbH, Potsdam), “Weltwunder der Kinematographie: The Earliest Optical Sound Films”



Scott Stark (Flicker), Found Home Movies Meet the Avant Garde

Skip Elsheimer (
A/V Geeks), 16mm School Soundtracks: The Musical

Stephen Parr (
Oddball Film+Video), Sonic Oddities from the San Francisco Media Archive



Friday September 27  

SCORING (9-10:30)

Daniel Goldmark (University of Alabama), "Live Piano Accompaniment & DeForest Sound for the Fleischer cartoon Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly? (1926)"

Neil Lerner (Davidson College), “Composers for Classical Documentary”

Ivan Raykoff (Whitman College), "Playback Pianists and the Crisis of Disembodiment, or ‘I Ghosted for the Abbott & Costello TV Show’”


SHORTS (10:45-12:15)

Shelley Stamp (UC Santa Cruz), "Shoes and The Unshod Maiden, or Giving Progressive Cinema a Good Talking To: Unmaking and Restoring the Films of Lois Weber”

Nico de Klerk (
Netherlands Film Museum), “European Theatrical Shorts of the 1930s”

courtesy, Library of Congress

MY SONG GOES FORTH (1:30-2:30)

Charles Musser (Yale University), introduces a 35mm screening of the newly-preserved Paul Robeson documentary, My Song Goes Forth (1937, Great Britain/South Africa).




Bjørn Sørenssen (University of Trondheim), “Digitizing Filmed TV Ads from 1950s Norway”

Rick Prelinger (Internet Archive), “A Model of Plenty: Putting Orphan Films (and Television) On-line”

Laura Kissel (USC New Media), moderator and respondent
+ demos of websites: The Orphanage; the Center for Southern African-American Music; and the
Internet Moving Images Archive


PEOPLE LIKE US (4:30-5:30)

British artist Vicki Bennett in performance



Alan Berliner, “From ABC Audio Archivist to Independent Documentarian: Selected Shorts by Alan Berliner”

Bill Morrison, New York-based filmmaker introduces his new film Decasia (2002), with new music soundtrack composed by Michael Gordon.

Saturday September 28  


Greg Pierce (Orgone Cinema and Archive) shows All Personal Sound Movies (1949-63), All Golf Films (c.1973) and more by amatuer Auricon cineaste Fred McCleod (Oakmont, PA).


AMATEUR (10:15-12)

Jesse Lerner (Pitzer College), "Superocheros: Mexico's Super8 Film Movement,” with José Agustín’s Luz Externa (1973) presented with a restored soundtrack.

Russ Suniewick (
Colorlab Inc), “How to Blow Up 9.5mm and 8mm films,” including home movies of the 1920s

Steve Davidson (Florida Moving Image Archive), “African-American home movies of the 1950s and 60s”



Margarita de la Vega (International Film Seminars), “Restoring 50 years of Audiotapes from the Robert Flaherty Film Seminar”

Sam Bryan (Pratt Institute and the New York International Film Foundation), “Julien Bryan’s Film Documentation of the Stalin-era Soviet Union”

Dana White (Emory University), “The Crusading Housing Reform Films of Atlanta’s Charles F. Palmer, 1934-1946”


THE VOICE and the Music OF THE DOCUMENTARY (3-4:45)

Ross McElwee (Harvard), “Voice-over Narration Practices,” with a preview of his new film Bright Leaves and outtakes from his 1986 masterpiece Sherman’s March

Les Blank (Flower Films), “Narrating with Music: Some Unheard Takes from Blues Masters”


MUSIC (5:15-6:45)

Libby Burke (Visual Archives of American Music and University of Washington), “Snader Telescriptions: Musical Film Filler for Early Television”

Mark Cantor (Celluloid Improvisations), “Jukebox Movies from the 1940s”


Orphan ‘Potluck’ (7:30 til ?)

A wrap party event, back by popular demand. Bring a fun/interesting/odd/rare short or clip to share after our dinner together. We bring the food and drink, you bring the films. All orphanistas are invited to give a quick introduction to a favorite piece of orphan film or video (16mm or VHS please). Informal, engaging, fun.


Margaret Compton (University of Georgia Media Archives & Peabody Awards Collection),

“The Orphan as Filmmaker: Juvenile Series Fiction, 1912-1935," a curated exhibition of books on display throughout the symposium.

British found-sound artist People Like Us
(aka Vicki Bennett), with a multimedia performance
+ her new film We Edit Life (2002)

Three of the great living documentary filmmakers:

       • Legendary chronicler of roots music Les Blank (Flower Films) with unreleased performances recorded on film during his decades of documenting figures such as Lightning Hopkins, Leon Russell, Clifton Chenier, Flaco Jimenez and other music masters.
       • From Harvard, Ross McElwee (Columbia outtakes from Sherman’s March & excerpts from his new film, Bright Leaves) talks about voice-over narration technique.
       • Emmy-winning New York filmmaker Alan Berliner (The Sweetest Sound), on his career as an ABC News audio archivist turned independent documentarian.

+ Bill Morrison presents his new feature film conceived and developed at the first Orphan film symposium: Decasia (2002), with new music by Bang on a Can composer Michael Gordon. Commissioned by the basil sinfonietta of Switzerland as its premiere work. A tapestry of found footage and decaying nitrate.


Leaders of moving image preservation for four nations’ archives bring restored early sound films, including DeForest Phonofilms, recordings of music hall artists, Eubie Blake performances, newsreels and more:

William O’Farrell (Chief of Moving Image and Audio Conservation, National Archives of Canada)
David Pierce
(Curator, National Film and Television Archive, British Film Institute)
Ken Weissman
(Head, Motion Picture Conservation Center, U.S. Library of Congress)
Ray Edmondson
(Curator Emeritus, National Film and Sound Archive, Australia
; Director, Archive Associates, Canberra), "The Voice of Australia: Cinesound Review"

Rick Prelinger (the Prelinger Archives), on digital access to films at the Internet Moving Images Archive), and the Internet Archive’s collaboration with the orphan film movement.

The Library of Congress previews an important restoration of films made by writer/anthropologist Zora Neale Hurston. In 1940, she and a sound-film crew visited African-American churches in Beaufort, South Carolina (and elsewhere), recording sermons and religious music. Lost for nearly 60 years, the original audio disks have been rediscovered and are being remastered to the motion pictures in the Library’s Margaret Mead Collection.

producer Kristy Andersen discuss and excerpt her forthcoming feature documentary BlackSouth: The Life Journey of Zora Neale Hurston, co-produced for PBS by Sam Pollard;

curator Elaine Charnov (Director of Public Programs at the American Museum of Natural History and artistic director of the Margaret Mead Film & Video Festival) with her research on the Hurston films;

and archivist/cataloguer Arlene Balkansky (LC-MBRS) and Ken Weissman presenting an update from the restoration in progress.

Kay Hoffmann (Documentary Film Center, Stuttgart), Röntgenstrahlen, mit Filmtonspur (Germany, 1937): A Talking X-Ray Motion Picture.

Margaret Compton (University of Georgia Media Archives and Peabody Award Collection), "The Orphan As Filmmaker: Juvenile Series Fiction, 1912-1935," a curated exhibition of books on display at the symposium.

Steve Davidson (the Florida Moving Image Archive), African-American home movies of the 1950s and 60s.


Charles Musser (Yale University) introduces a newly-preserved 35mm print of a British documentary about South Africa, My Song Goes Forth (1937, aka Africa Sings), with song and prologue by Paul Robeson, in his first documentary appearance.

Shelley Stamp (UC-Santa Cruz), "Shoes and The Unshod Maiden, or Giving Progressive Cinema a Good Talking To." Lois Weber’s 1916 orphaned off-spring Shoes survives in the US only in the Library of Congress’s print of Universal's The Unshod Maiden, a 1932 parody of the film that uses voice-over commentary to mock a re-edited version. Weber’s plea for women's wage equity, re-worked in such a fashion, amply demonstrates Hollywood’s rapid disregard for silent cinema and Progressive-era politics in the wake of pre-recorded sound. (The restoration of Shoes is being planned with the Nederlands Filmmuseum, the Library of Congress, and Japan’s National Film Center.)

Frances Guerin (University of Kent, Canterbury, England), “Giving Voice to the Myth of Perpetrator Images: Using Nazi Footage in the BBC documentary program The Third Reich in Colour (2001).”

Rockefeller Media Fellow Jesse Lerner (Pitzer College) debuts a restored gem from Mexico’s superochero movement: Luz Externa (1973), a Super8 film by counterculture writer José Agustín. For the first time, the original music and dialogue tracks have been combined with the images.

Daniel Goldmark (University of Alabama), on scoring live piano accompaniment & DeForest recorded sound for the Fleischer cartoon Has Anybody Here Seen Kelly? (1926).

Neil Lerner (Davidson College), "An Ignored Parent to Hollywood's Musical Vocabulary: Virgil Thomson's Score for The Plow that Broke the Plains (1936)"

Ivan Raykoff (Whitman College),"Playback Pianists and the Crisis of Disembodiment." Ghosted piano performances, including Abbott & Costello TV appearances, c. 1951-52.

Bjørn Sørenssen (Norwegian University of Science and Technology), on-line access to digitized Norwegian film commercials of the 1950s, an experimental project with the Norwegian National Library in Mo i Rana.

Sam Bryan (Pratt Institute and New York International Film Foundation), showing travel documentaries shot by Julien Bryan in Stalin-era Soviet Union. [Watch Julien Bryan's 15-minute film Good Neighbor Family (1943) at the Internet Moving Images Archive. real player needed.]

Dana White (Emory University), the 1934-1946 housing reform films of crusading Atlanta businessman Charles F. Palmer.

Margarita de la Vega (International Film Seminars, New York) on restoring 50 years of audio recordings from the Robert Flaherty Film Seminars.


Greg Pierce of Pittsburgh's Orgone Cinema and Archive shows All Personal Sound Movies (1949-63), All Golf Films (c.1973) and more by amatuer Auricon cineaste Fred McCleod (Oakmont, PA).

From Los Angeles, noted collector Mark Cantor (Celluloid Improvisations) with rare 16mm jukebox 'soundies' of the 1940s.

Libby Burke (University of Washington and the Visual Archives of American Music) plays Snader Telescriptions, 1950-54 film recordings of touring nightclub and cabaret acts, made in L.A. as early TV filler and filmed live in the studio.

Nico de Klerk brings a 35mm program of 1930s European theatrical short subjects from the Netherlands Film Museum.

Skip Elsheimer (A/V Geeks), presents 16mm School Films: The Musical.

Stephen Parr (San Francisco Media Archive and Oddball Film+Video), with some oddball films and video.

Scott Stark (Flicker), found home movies meet the avant garde.


Restoration, lab and preservation experts
Robert Heiber, president of Chace Productions (Los Angeles), discusses recording, post-production, restoration, and preservation technologies in “The Sound of Newsreels.”

Russ Suniewick, president of Colorlab Inc. (Rockville, MD, and New York), on small-gauge blow-ups and transfers, including 9.5mm home movies from the 1920s.

Joachim Polzer (Polzer Media Group GmbH, Potsdam) screens the earliest optical sound films and other material from his DVD (and companion book) Weltwunder der Kinematographie.

Grover Crisp, VP for Asset Management & Film Restoration, Sony Pictures Entertainment.


last updated: 7/10