& the Future of Photochemical Projection

The Film Advocacy Task Force knows that film advocacy doesn’t happen in a vacuum. On our blog, we try to showcase the terrific work by individuals and organizations being done in the field.


In this post, FATF presents filmprojection21, an initiative conceived around the concrete commitment represented by the Charter of Cinematographic Projection in the 21st Century.

So far, 657 individuals and 177 organizations (including FATF) have signed the charter which asserts the importance of building a future for photochemical film projection. Learn more below about how the charter and filmprojection21 intend to build and share resources towards that goal!

(The following is adapted from a recent  Analogue Film Academy newsletter)


Even in today’s digital era, there is a vocal minority of cinema professionals who continue to rally around the occasion of showing films on film. This is true regardless of if these films are historic or contemporary, as a sizable number of contemporary filmmakers – from the underground circles all the way to commercial Hollywood – still have a will to exhibit on celluloid. These players come from very different fields, including the movie industry, the festival network, the archival world, the art world, microcinemas, and the experimental film scene. Together, however, they can pose quite a significant force for the preservation of film projection.

At a time when the possibility to use film as a capture medium seems ​to have gained new hope, filmprojection21 came to exist to build up a positive energy around the question of projection, before it is too late. The goal of this web-based project is to unite filmmakers, programmers, archivists, projectionists, producers, collectors, etc., around a charter that articulates the signatories’ common desire for a greater respect and care toward the photochemical medium. But this is more than a simple theoretical statement. From a practical standpoint, by signing the charter, signatories commit to favor photochemical film projection whenever a projectable print of a film is available and to announce the projection formats of films in their programs, so that the audience can learn to distinguish and acquire a taste for them. Through the personal and professional networks that are already emerging from this action, the website becomes a valuable resource of technical knowledge and relevant contacts.

The success of the filmprojection21 project depends on participation. While over 600 individuals and nearly 200 organizations​,​ including archives like Cinemateca Portuguesa, Cinémathèque Française, the Austrian Film Museum, UCLA Film & Television Archive, Harvard Film Archive or festivals such as the Viennale, the Berlinale or Cinéma du Réel​,​ have already signed, the project expects to grow. In the face of heavy industry pressure, a critical mass of concerned voices will be necessary to (re)construct a sustainable, healthy photochemical ecosystem that can continue to live alongside its digital counterpart.

FATF In Pittsburgh (AMIA Conference 2016)

Hello film-world!

It has been a moment since our last post, and for those of you who don’t know who we are and what we do…

The Film Advocacy Task Force

  • Promotes information on and access to motion picture film as a production, exhibition, and preservation format
  • Acts as a clearinghouse for all things related to film advocacy
  • Creates and facilitates education programs for K-12, college, public, and film enthusiasts
  • Maintains direct lines of communication among film archives, exhibitors, laboratories, educators, and filmmakers

…and lastly, we are an online resource! Consider officially back in action for the 2016 AMIA Conference in Pittsburgh.


FATF is looking forward to seeing everyone in Pittsburgh! Here are a few places you can find us at the conference:

  • Wednesday 11/9  6:00p    Networking & First-Timer Event
  • Thursday 11/10   8:30a    Action for Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity in AMIA
  • Saturday 11/12   8:50a      Lightning Talks: Projects We’re Working On
  • Saturday 11/12   4:45p      FTH: The New Old Curriculum: Why 20th Century Archiving Techniques Matter in the 21st Century        


See you there!

Lezione di Cinema: Il futuro della pellicola

Lezione di Cinema: Il futuro della pellicola  is an important roundtable discussion on the current status and future possibilities of motion picture film that took place at the annual Il Cinema Retrovato  event held by Cineteca di Bologna, Italy on July 1, 2015.

A strong theme that emerges from the colloquium is the desire for co-existence of film and digital media. The Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film / FIAF, in a written statement of support, advocated this bilateral approach as key to the future of both mediums.

Among the many topics covered are:

– the important, distinctive nature of film projection – avoiding taking an ideological stance in relation to different media – funding of archives – one major studio’s approach to current archival practice – ongoing interest on the part of young people in film as a medium – the importance of education in film and film history – framing discussion in terms of what people want, rather than solely on opinions about what can or cannot be done – film and digital media as active, ever-changing formats – the human quality of film – manufacturers’ responses to a changing market
– audience education –


Moderated by: Scott Foundas, Chief Film Critic, Variety


00:02:28    Gian Luca Farinelli, Director, Cineteca di Bologna  [fr]

00:07:45    Rachael Stoeltje, Indiana University Libraries Moving Image Archive; FIAF
00:12:50    FIAF Statement

00:15:20    Pietro Marcello, Filmmaker  [it]
00:19:45    Communication from ORWO
00:20:25    Alexander Payne, Filmmaker
00:23:40    Nicola Mazzanti, Director, Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique

00:32:30    Eric Le Roy, Head of Access Services, Archives Françaises du Film,
                         Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée / CNC  [fr]  also 00:47:50
00:37:20    Grover Crisp, Senior Vice-President Asset Management, Film Restoration &
                         Digital Mastering, Sony Pictures  also 00:58:05
00:49:05    Gabe Klinger, Critic and Filmmaker

00:59:55    Michael Pogorzelski, Director, Academy Film Archive  also 01:09:45
01:02:45    José Manuel Costa, Director, Cinemateca Portuguesa /
                         Museu Do Cinema  also 01:12:50
01:16:30    Jonathan Nossiter, Filmmaker

01:27:07    Renato Berta, Cinematographer  [it]
01:38:05    Christian Richter, Film Laboratory & Studio Relations Manager,
                         Eastman Kodak

01:47:55    Discussion

Reproduced by kind permission of Cineteca di Bologna and
Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film / FIAF


Keeping Options Open

Media Plurality and Cultural Diversity

800px KuhneKlein Painting Time

The recent conclusion of film supply agreements between the major studios and Eastman Kodak is a welcome acknowledgement of the ongoing importance of maintaining a range of creative options for filmmakers.

Choice is at the heart of creativity; and creativity is the driver of the commercial film and television industry. It is this understanding that lies behind the evident will to ensure that talent is not restricted in the tools and mediums available with which to tell stories, communicate ideas, and enthral and entertain audiences.

Preserving choice lends certainty and confidence and further shores up freedom of choice, which has been under threat. It also makes economic sense, as a diverse range of media options affords resilience, particularly in times of volatility or uncertainty.

The same idea holds true in exhibition. Flexible programming that employs a wide variety of formats (perhaps, flexhibition), ensures diversity and also supports the right of audiences to experience creative works in their preferred medium.

The AMIA Film Advocacy Task Force has highlighted the demand for film-based screenings across a broad cross-section of audiences from different countries and cultures. Cultural diversity is an important theme, and the UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity speaks to the subject in the following ways:

Article 1 – Cultural diversity: the common heritage of humanity

Culture takes diverse forms across time and space. This diversity is embodied in the uniqueness and plurality of the identities of the groups and societies making up humankind. As a source of exchange, innovation and creativity, cultural diversity is as necessary for humankind as biodiversity is for nature. In this sense, it is the common heritage of humanity and should be recognized and affirmed for the benefit of present and future generations.

Article 2 – From cultural diversity to cultural pluralism

In our increasingly diverse societies, it is essential to ensure harmonious interaction among people and groups with plural, varied and dynamic cultural identities as well as their willingness to live together. Policies for the inclusion and participation of all citizens are guarantees of social cohesion, the vitality of civil society and peace. Thus defined, cultural pluralism gives policy expression to the reality of cultural diversity. Indissociable from a democratic framework, cultural pluralism is conducive to cultural exchange and to the flourishing of creative capacities that sustain public life.


Why Cultural Diversity Matters – TEDxCSU [Note: October 2014]

The connection between cultural and biological diversity has been explored and developed in recent years1 and provides a useful and practical framework for considering issues of diversity and plurality in the arts. Of further interest is the additional connection that has been made with linguistic diversity2. Indeed, within the field of moving images, it is stimulating and productive to consider the various gauges and emulsions of motion picture film and various formats of analog and digital video as languages – and even perhaps as dialects.

The UNESCO Universal Declaration addresses the consequences of unchecked commodification of creative works on diversity:

Article 8 – Cultural goods and services: commodities of a unique kind

In the face of present-day economic and technological change, opening up vast prospects for creation and innovation, particular attention must be paid to the diversity of the supply of creative work, to due recognition of the rights of authors and artists and to the specificity of cultural goods and services which, as vectors of identity, values and meaning, must not be treated as mere commodities or consumer goods.

This underpins the value and need for comprehensive education in this area, so that we can attain new, enlightened perspectives on these important issues.

1. See for example, Pretty J et al, The Intersections of Biological Diversity and Cultural Diversity: Towards Integration  Conservat Soc 2009;7:100-12

2. See Sharing a World of Difference: The Earth’s Linguistic, Cultural and Biological Diversity

Image: Painting Time – Collage from art postcards
by Hendrikje Kühne und Beat Klein is licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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Preserving  Los Sures

Chair of the Film Advocacy Task Force, Elena Rossi-Snook, discussing film-based access in the context of the original surviving print of  Los Sures

Courtesy Christopher Allen and UnionDocs

Los Sures  (Dir. Diego Echeverria) is a powerful 1984 portrayal of a Brooklyn neighbourhood grappling with the social and economic challenges presented by high crime rates, violence, racial tension, dereliction and deprivation. Determined to overcome this, however, is a community rich in culture and creativity.

30 years on, this notable film has been preserved by the New York Public Library using an original print in its circulating 16mm film collection. Film-to-film preservation was done by Colorlab from the original 16mm print and resulted in the creation of a new preservation negatives and a 16mm access print which is available to the public.

As a tangible, durable record of its time, Los Sures  has further provided the foundation for an updated documentary project, Living Los Sures, by locally-based UnionDocs. This Multi-Author Place, Media, and Art Project (MAAP) uses UnionDoc’s expansive documentary approach embracing film / video, radio, photography, performance, interactive and locative media to bring the story into the present and to promote new forms of community engagement and discovery.

UnionDocs utilised the New York Public Library’s original 16mm print to remaster the work on digital video for the Living Los Sures project.

This kind of multi-purpose institutional and community collaboration is a perfect demonstration of the ongoing relevance of and argument for film conservation and preservation: by conserving the original print – keeping it in cold storage, employing careful handling when projected – the film was available, 30 years after production, for transfer to both new film elements and to contemporary digital video formats. It is therefore now available equally as an online interactive community outreach exercise and as a projected-film experience.

Preserved by the Reserve Film and Video Collection of The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts

Living Los Sures – Facebook

Living Los Sures – Transmediatic

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Assuring Access


Does the widespread availability of electronic, binary versions of
film material – increasingly, the only way one is being allowed to view it – truly constitute access?

“Access” is defined in the following ways:

>  The means or opportunity to approach or enter a place

>  The right or opportunity to use or benefit from something

>  The right or opportunity to approach or see someone

>  The process of obtaining or retrieving information stored in a computer’s memory

>  Denoting broadcasting produced by minority and specialist interest groups, rather than by professionals: access television

>  An attack or outburst of an emotion

>  To approach or enter (a place)

>  To obtain or retrieve (computer data or a file)1

Access to content is not the same as access to an experience. The relationship of the word to the field of information technology is also noteworthy in this context.

An interesting aspect within the definitions is the concept of entry. Previous work by the Task Force has highlighted the important physiological aspects of the engaging film projection experience. Does greater emotional engagement with creative and artistic works of cinema in this way (as argued) assist entry into the narrative, thematic, and spatial milieu created by the filmmaker? Is any restriction of cinematic work “access” to purely electronic means a form of denial of access – ultimately, a form of censorship?

The reference to rights (in the broad sense) is thus also significant. Whilst new means of access are valuable and important, they should complement and extend existing and traditional means of access, not supplant them. An ideology of supplantation is incompatible with fundamental rights.

These issues invite critical examination of words and phrases that are very often used unconsciously. “Access” should not be co-opted and its meaning corralled for particular political or ideological purposes. Rather, one seeks to qualify the term in order to emphasise the proper scope of its meanings. Thus equal access  (or, equality of access); physical access; diverse access; holistic access; broad access; general access; inclusive access – to give examples of some phrases that could be adopted and propagated.

In this way, the general meaning of “access” is reinstated, in this context covering a diverse range of formats and platforms: including, importantly, traditional methods of access.

Such plurality is healthy and a necessary prerequisite for the ongoing development of the field.

1. cf. Oxford Dictionaries

Image by Alfred Hutter


[Edited on January 16, 2015. Reason: “Equal Access” and “Equality of Access” added to list of terms above]

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Connecting with Audiences: Interstellar
and Exhibition Choice

ESO IMAX Hidden Universe

“Never treat your audience as customers, always as partners.” (James Stewart)

Changes in cinema technology worldwide in recent years have created a commercial moving image product that is almost entirely limited to the (binary) digital format. This limitation of choice for consumers (in the form of movie theater patrons) has, as is expected in free markets, created a movement1 demanding continued access to 35mm film print exhibition.

In response to this market demand, and in service to creative freedom and the heritage of the cinema experience, director Christopher Nolan, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. have designed a release pattern for the science-fiction adventure film Interstellar that alters the single format paradigm and offers a new model for inclusive, democratic distribution through its conscious provision of choice of exhibition medium for audiences.

By unprecedentedly releasing in large format 70mm film, conventional 70mm film and 35mm film in addition to binary viewing formats, Interstellar reaches the widest audience possible, fulfils market demands for varied media consumption and facilitates full engagement with its themes and messages.

It also exemplifies choice in shooting and post-production mediums, staying largely within the photochemical domain throughout and avoiding the use of reductive techniques such as the digital intermediate process.

Interstellar provides the benchmark in how to release and exhibit a major motion picture in the 21st century. It is a model that other films could follow – it is eminently feasible for example to continue to strike 35mm prints (also in large format as desired) for specialist film-based theaters in major cities – much like how traditional 70mm “Roadshow” releases were carried out.

Perhaps a larger market is yet in place; the burgeoning membership for Art House Convergence and the number of film-capable theaters therein suggests a more extensive film exhibition network. And, of course, one needs only to look to the number of Interstellar film prints booked and the associated box office receipts to determine the viability of film print distribution and exhibition (this group doubts that the numbers are disappointing). It can also be argued that the contraction in the use of film for exhibition has achieved very large financial savings which more than adequately cover the cost of limited film-based releases into the future.

For those who question the ability for photochemical laboratories to cater to a reduced but sustained production of commercial release prints, Interstellar laboratory Fotokem in Los Angeles, California, to give just one example, remains committed to the business and artistry of film2.

Catering for all sections of the audience makes sound business sense, and provides ongoing market opportunities for specialist companies in servicing niche film-based exhibition.

In providing audiences with film prints for engaging with the material held by them, archives and specialist distributors likewise also commendably play their part in upholding the right of Everyone […] freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits3.

Ultimately, media democracy and inclusive cinema is to the benefit of all.

1. See for example the Fight for 35mm Petition, which is statistically important due to both the volume and geographical distribution of the responses

2. cf. Presentation at AMIA 2014

3. Article 27(1) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948
Image: Screenshot from IMAX® 3D movie Hidden Universe showing the Carina Nebula
by European Southern Observatory (ESO) / T Preibisch
is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license
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The Making of Film:
The Marketplace & The Commons

Diversity, Flexibility, Opportunity

Film is undeniably in transition, but the medium-to long-term scenario could be one of greater diversity of supply, smaller scale production, and the potential for new, flexible manufacturing processes, ironically facilitated by the same level of technological innovation that has been applied in the digital video arena. Equally, new product funding models may emerge that overcome the increasingly apparent limitations of the privately financed and controlled corporate business model. These concepts are in tune with significant changes in consumer culture that have taken place in recent years, with increasing fragmentation in many markets and, consequently, more targeted product design, manufacturing, and marketing.

Maker Faire 2009

As the cultural position of motion picture film changes, new opportunities for development present themselves. The recent emergence of the ‘Maker Movement’1 is significant, and far from denigrating traditional technologies and crafts, it embraces them and allows for the development of new forms via cross-fertilisation. It champions small-scale, localised manufacturing that is more flexible and responsive than the traditional “smokestack” model. Such contemporary, creative new approaches to manufacturing hold out the prospect of on-demand and made-to-order models of film manufacture and supply.

Maker culture is also capable of providing new models and forms of film-related equipment, and 3D scanning developments could well benefit parts manufacture. In addition, the Maker Movement re-establishes the place of crafts in society2, highlighting their importance in a world which has increasingly turned away from the physical and the tangible in favour of the disconnected, abstract experience mediated by digital technologies.

Many who work with film speak to the satisfaction gained from working with one’s hands and to the appreciation of the craft practices associated with film handling. For far too long, this critical aspect has been overlooked, with the discourse tending to focus on film as art.

A transition path away from an industrial-based model of film manufacture is also aligned with emerging concepts of the Cinematic Common3 – a subset of the theory of The Commons, which encompasses the natural and cultural resources of the world that are held in the common ownership of humanity4.

Consideration of The Commons is a key part of the discourse on cultural heritage and cultural diversity, and compensates for the effects of what is further referred to as The Tyranny of Small Decisions – a phenomenon whereby many small decisions made by purchasers of goods and services can lead, cumulatively, to undesirable outcomes contrary to the common good5.

Within this new paradigm, development of a Cinematic Common addresses the ultimate limitations of markets themselves in the provision of film-related goods and services. Such thinking allows for public funding of film technology, either through centralised grant schemes or tax breaks (already disbursed in many countries for film productions), or more locally through crowdfunding mechanisms.

While no one can predict the future, one can continue to advocate for artistic rights and freedoms, for choice and diversity, and for new ways of looking at challenging situations.

1. Bajarin, Tim, Maker Faire: Why the Maker Movement Is Important to America’s Future, TIME, May 19th, 2014

2. Crawford, Matthew B, The Case for Working With Your Hands, The New York Times, May 21, 2009

3. Stoddard, Matthew, Film Heritage and the Cinematic Common in Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, Volume 18, Issue 4, 2013, pp 179-194


5. Kahn, Alfred E, The Tyranny of Small Decisions: Market Failures, Imperfections, and the Limits of Economics in Kyklos – International Review for Social Sciences, Volume 19, Issue 1, February 1966, pp 23-47


Image: Maker Faire 2009
by Jon ‘ShakataGaNai’ Davis
is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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5 Minutes on Film: Leonard Maltin

Noted film critic, author and historian Leonard Maltin recently generously shared his views with FATF on the current status of motion picture film within moving image culture.

This contribution takes a longer view of Cinema and its important heritage and traditions, and constructively addresses current developments.

We extend our thanks to Leonard Maltin for his time and co-operation in the making of this piece.


Projection: The Politics of Passivity

It is not important what goes on each frame of film; it’s the spaces between frames that are important  (Norman McLaren)

Critics and commentators have remarked upon the induced reverie and pleasure associated with watching films, invariably characterising this as a magical experience. In the undue haste to replace film with digital (binary) video technology, few have considered the important role of the shutter in viewing the projected motion picture.

Typically (in shutter-based projection), theatre audiences viewing film on a screen spend half their time in darkness. This is thought to simultaneously relax the brain and increase active engagement as the mind “fills the gaps” between each shutter interruption. In this way, the brain constructs perception of movement from distinct still frames.

Specific research into the physiological and psychological aspects of motion picture viewing has been hard to find, though Gestalt psychology has explored connected concepts such as the Phi-Phenomenon and Beta Movement1. However, in 2012, the Zürcher Hochschule der Künste / ZHdK, Switzerland, commenced formal research into the differences between viewing projected motion pictures and digital video-based images2. Although the full results of this study are not yet available, a preliminary outcome found that

Im Gegensatz zum Aufnahmeverfahren beeinflusst die Projektionsweise die Wirkung deutlich; die emotionale Wirkung ist bei analoger Projektion tendenziell höher, wobei die Stärke wiederum je nach Film variiert.3

(In contrast to the recording process, the projection method clearly influences the effect; the emotional impact of analogue projection tends to be stronger, the intensity of which varies from film to film.)

This preliminary research suggests a link between the singular nature of film projection and one’s emotional involvement in the action portrayed on screen. The film projection experience may have greater impact because the viewer is physiologically engaged in the viewing process via the shutter interruptions. If it could be proved that non-film-based projection methods deprive audiences of physiological and mental engagement in the viewing process, that could partly explain why there has been notable resistance to digital projection in theatres and might be a contributing factor to recent recorded declines in cinema admissions in some parts of the world.

These concepts also have a bearing on the emerging field of audience rights. It can be asserted that denial of the ability to properly engage with motion pictures – in effect, enforced viewing passivity – is a breach of the people’s right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and impedes the right of artists to freely communicate information and ideas.

The need to preserve the active, engaging motion picture projection experience for filmmakers and audiences alike highlights the precariousness of a film culture and infrastructure that is in the main supported and controlled by private companies. Such companies determine the supply of and access to film-related products and equipment. This environment is increasingly unreliable. In order to preserve people’s access to the motion picture viewing experience, there will have to be intervention at national and international level4.

The Zürcher Hochschule der Künste research moves discussion and consideration of this important area from an abstract position to a more concrete foundation. It constitutes an advancement in understanding and a welcome re-introduction of film viewers to this discussion.

1. The Phi-Phenomenon is a process that is carried out in the visual cortex of the brain in which spaces between static visual elements in sequence are used, in part, to construct a perception of movement.

Related to this is a similar, but distinct process called Beta Movement, which also contributes to the perception of movement between otherwise still images.

What is commonly referred to as Persistence of Vision (i.e. after-images on the retina of the eye) in fact appears to play only a minor role in the motion picture viewing process, with some claiming that it operates mostly only to reduce perceived flicker.

The human visual system and brain do not have to continuously take in images in film projection, due to the shutter interruptions approximately every 1/48 of a second (for projectors with two-bladed shutters).

2. ANALOG / DIGITAL: The Emotional Impact of Film Recording Processes on the Audience (Study by Zürcher Hochschule der Künste / ZHdK, Switzerland)

3. Medienmitteilung der Zürcher Hochschule der Künste, der Universität Zürich und der Universität Bern vom 15. März 2013

4. See the recent initiative, which the Film Advocacy Task Force wholeheartedly supports.

Additional References

Steinman, R. M., Z. Pizlo, & F.J. Pizlo. Phi is not beta, and why Wertheimer’s discovery launched the Gestalt revolution: a minireview (2000). Vision Research, 40, 2257{2264. (Abstract)
(Phi-Phenomenon) beta-phi.html
(Examples of Phi and Beta Movement),37,
Contributions of Gestalt psychology

(Phi Phenomenon and Gestalt Psychology)
(Critique of Persistence of Vision theory)
(Movement Illusion in Film – Myths and Explanations)


Motion Picture Persistence of Vision: “How You See It”
(1936 Chevrolet Educational Short Film explaining
Basic Principles of the Motion Picture Projector)
(Cinema Attendances – EU)

Image: Bioscoopaffiche, Nederlands Filmmuseum, Amsterdam, 1909,
by Julien t’ Felt (1874-1933)
Public domain / PD-Art
Public domain in the United States / PD-US

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