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By MCN Editor editor@moviecitynews.com

ACADEMY GRANTS FUNDING FOR BOOK PROJECTS

March 16, 2012
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Beverly Hills, CA – The history of documentary filmmaking in Cambridge, Mass., and the growth of “orphan” films will be the topics explored by Scott MacDonald and Dan Streible, respectively, who have been named Academy Film Scholars by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

The Academy’s Institutional Grants Committee selected the pair for the honor on the basis of their manuscript proposals. Each scholar will receive $25,000 from the Academy to aid in the research and writing of his project.

MacDonald, professor of critical studies at Hamilton College, will examine the history and analyze of two particular forms of nonfiction filmmaking that have developed in Cambridge: ethnographic filmmaking and personal documentary. The Cambridge Turn in Documentary Filmmaking will investigate why these developments occurred specifically in Cambridge and discuss the careers of such filmmakers as John Marshall, Robert Gardner, Timothy Asch, Ross McElwee, Robb Moss, Alfred Guzzetti, Nina Davenport, Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor. The book will also explore how the accomplishments of these filmmakers have helped transform the understanding of “documentary” films.

Streible, associate professor of cinema studies at New York University, will offer a detailed account of the growth of the “orphan film” phenomenon in the U.S. since the early 1990s and analyze the dynamic that the movement has established among film archivists, preservationists, scholars, curators and filmmakers. This book will be the first to analyze orphaned work (defined as films that have been abandoned or have suffered physical, historical or cultural neglect), including newsreels, silent movies, shorts, independent and studio features, documentaries, outtakes and animation. Streible’s book will be titled Orphan Films: Saving, Studying, and Screening Neglected Cinema.

MacDonald and Streible will receive the first half of their $25,000 grants at a luncheon on March 19. The remaining half will be presented upon completion of the manuscripts, when the scholars will present their projects in lecture form at a public Academy event.

Established in 1999, the Academy Film Scholars program is designed to “stimulate and support the creation of new and significant works of film scholarship about aesthetic, cultural, educational, historical, theoretical or scientific aspects of theatrical motion pictures.”

MacDonald and Streible will join 13 other Academy Film Scholars who are currently working on projects: Cari Beauchamp; John Belton, Rutgers University; Donald Crafton, University of Notre Dame; Jane Gaines, Duke University; Jan-Christopher Horak, University of California, Los Angeles; David E. James, University of Southern California; Patrick Keating, Trinity University; Peter Lev, Towson University; Stuart Liebman, Queens College of the City University of New York; Charles Musser, Yale University; Harlow Robinson, Northeastern University; Shelley Stamp, University of California, Santa Cruz; and Emily Thompson, Princeton University. Anne Friedberg of the University of Southern California passed away before significant progress could be made on her project.

Academy Film Scholars who have completed projects are Tino Balio, University of Wisconsin–Madison; Beauchamp; Peter Decherney, University of Pennsylvania; Thomas Doherty, Brandeis University; Richard B. Jewell, University of Southern California; Dana Polan, New York University; David Rodowick, Harvard University; and Steven J. Ross, University of Southern California.

The Academy’s cultural and educational wing – the Academy Foundation – annually grants more than $1 million to film scholars, cultural organizations and film festivals throughout the U.S. and abroad. It is also through the Foundation that the Academy presents a rich assortment of screenings and other public programs each year.

For grant guidelines and information about the Academy Film Scholars program, contact Grants Coordinator Shawn Guthrie at (310) 247-3000, ext. 3306, via e-mail at sguthrie@oscars.org, or visit http://www.oscars.org/filmscholars/.

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ABOUT THE ACADEMY
The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences is the world’s preeminent movie-related organization, with a membership of more than 6,000 of the most accomplished men and women working in cinema. In addition to the annual Academy Awards—in which the members vote to select the nominees and winners­—the Academy presents a diverse year-round slate of public programs, exhibitions and events; provides financial support to a wide range of other movie-related organizations and endeavors; acts as a neutral advocate in the advancement of motion picture technology; and, through its Margaret Herrick Library and Academy Film Archive, collects, preserves, restores and provides access to movies and items related to their history. Through these and other activities the Academy serves students, historians, the entertainment industry and people everywhere who love movies.

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CATHERINE LACEY: Do you think that your writer DNA was sort of shaped by how your family was displaced by the Nazi regime before you were born?
RENATA ADLER: It’s funny that you should mention that because I think it affects a lot else, specifically being a refugee. I wasn’t born there. I didn’t experience any of it. But they were refugees. So then I was thinking of this business of being a refugee, no matter in what sense.

Prenatal refugee.
Prenatal refugee and actually postnatal refugee. And I thought there are probably things in common between being a child and being a refugee and being an anthropologist.

It gives you a sense of curiosity.
But also a complete displacement. You’ve got to read the situation. You’re the new kid in school all the time. But I wasn’t aware of it then. I’m aware of it now because language affects you differently, or not. But I used to talk to Mike Nichols about it because he was a refugee. Do you envision an audience when you write? Do you envision a particular person? 

No.
Every once in a while I think: Now, what would Mike say to that?

There’s that idea that when you’re blocked, you can always just write as if it was a letter to one specific person.
Oh, that’s good. That’s a wonderful idea. Mine is more in terms of criticism. If someone was to say, “I know what that is. Do you really want to do that?” But anyway, about Mike and his attitude toward language, I remember him saying—it was a question of whether something written was fresh or not—and he would ask, “Why not smell it?” Which, from an English speaker’s point of view, is hysterical.

~ Renata Adler and Catherine Lacey In Conversation 

“Oh it was just hellish. This is the worst thing that ever happened to me. It would be stupid for me to say that I didn’t know what I was getting into. It has taken me five years to decide on a first film and I always held out for something like this. The lesson to be learned is that you can’t take on an enterprise of this size and scope if you don’t have a movie like The Terminator or Jaws behind you. Because when everybody’s wringing their handkerchiefs and sweating and puking blood over the money, it’s very nice to be able to say, ‘This is the guy who directed the biggest grossing movie of all time, sit down, shut up and feel lucky that you’ve got him.’ It’s another thing when you are there and you’re going ‘Trust me, this is really what I believe in,’ and they turn round and say ‘Well, who the hell is this guy?’ If I make ten shitty movies, I’ll deserve the flak and if I go on to make 10 great ones, this’ll probably be looked upon as my first bungled masterpiece.”
~ David Fincher, 1992

 

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