By MCN Editor


March 16, 2012

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, or visit

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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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“The eye solicited alone makes the ear impatient, the ear solicited alone makes the eye impatient. Use these impatiences. Power of the cinematographer who appeals to the two senses in a governable way. Against the tactics of speed, of noise, set tactics of slowness, of silence.”
Robert Bresson

“I used to always think that was something low-budget films could use more of — a sense of geography — and now I even think it’s big-budget movies. So often when I see a movie, I don’t know where I am and I can’t quite follow — because the pacing is always so quick, and it’s a lot of long lenses and constantly editing where you’re changing the shot. There’s something refreshing for me about looking down the street and seeing a character and panning all the way over and seeing the other character and go, okay, I know where everybody is. Now when I cut to the other character, I wonder what the other person is doing because I know where he is. I know he’s around the corner because they just showed me that, and it creates not only a sense of geography logically in the movie, but it makes the movie larger than the screen. It makes you think about it and it creates suspense. We used to be really good about that, but [with] the ADD-ness of people now, we’re always moving the plot along so fast, you don’t get a sense of where you are and where everybody is and that’s doing a disservice to movies.”
~ Ti West On What More Movies Need

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