For the Love of Film: The Film Preservation Blogathon


By Marilyn Ferdinand

Anyone who knows me knows what a sucker I am for a good cause. I’ve tried to help save the environment, the Uptown Theatre, the mountain gorillas, the medfly (ok, not that one. . . I think). But now it’s my turn to hold my hand out and ask you all to help save something that means something to all us: film.

According to estimates, at least 50 percent of all films made for public exhibition before 1951 have been lost. Move into the silent era, and the estimate shoots up to 85­-90 percent. The nitrate film on which nondigital movies are recorded is flammable and highly susceptible to deterioration. All or parts of thousands of films have burned up, broken down, or ended up in a dumpster.

We can’t do anything to recover those films, but we can all help ensure that not another frame is lost by supporting the work of film preservationists, restorers, and archivists. To that end, Farran Nehme (The Self-Styled Siren) and I dreamed up a fun way to do it. We’re holding a blogathon to shine a light on film preservation and raise funds for the National Film Preservation Foundation. Here is a little information from the NFPF:

The National Film Preservation Foundation is the independent, nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. Growing from a national planning effort led by the Library of Congress, the NFPF began operations in 1997. We work directly with archives to rescue endangered films that will not survive without public support.

The NFPF raises money, awards grants, and organizes cooperative projects that enable archives, libraries, museums, historical societies, and universities to work together to save American films. Since opening our doors, we have helped preserve more than 1,560 films and assisted organizations in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In 2009, we partnered with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia to preserve and make available on the Internet several American silent films that no longer survived in the United States; another such project will be announced later in 2010.

Here’s a brief description of the films NFPF works to save:

A two-year study prepared by the Library’s National Film Preservation Board documented that American films are disintegrating faster than archives can save them. The types of motion pictures most at-risk are documentaries, silent-era films, avant-garde works, ethnic films, newsreels, home movies, and independent works. These are not Hollywood sound features belonging to the film studios, but ‘orphans’ that fall outside the scope of commercial preservation programs and exist as one-of-a-kind copies in archives, libraries, museums, and historical societies.

There have been fundraising blogathons before, but as far as I know, there has never been one held among film bloggers. The NFPF gets its operating funds entirely through donations and grants, so whatever funds we raise through the blogathon will make a real difference.

We’ll be offering helpful advice and taking suggestions from the film community on our very own Facebook Fan Page, which we’ll be adding to regularly. Become a fan, and take a look around in the coming weeks for suggestions of topics, discussions about the blogathon, information about film preservation, and a lot more. And go to the For the Love of Film blog, where Cinema Styles’ Greg Ferrara has posted banners and commercials you can use on your own blog and Facebook page to promote participation and awareness.

For the love of film . . . please support The Film Preservation Blogathon.

  • Rick spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 10:46 am

    As I indicated over at my place, I’ll be there. Or here. Or wherever.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 11:04 am

    Stay home. We’ll link to you!

  • Jandy Stone spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 12:07 pm

    This is a wonderful thing to do – I’ll definitely keep up with this and work on promoting it and participating when the time comes.

  • Pat spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 12:11 pm

    Marilyn –
    I’ll definitely be part of this.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 12:35 pm

    Glad to hear it Jandy and Pat. Can’t wait to see what you come up with! And tell your FB friends after you become fans.

  • Kevin J. Olson spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 1:53 pm

    Image is up on my blog with a link that will send people to this post. Sounds like a great idea, Marilyn.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 2:09 pm

    Thanks for your support, Kevin! I hope you’ll be writing for the blogathon, too.

  • Ivan G. spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 2:32 pm

    Deal me in! I’m already putting up the banner as I type.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 3:02 pm

    Way to go, Ivan the Not Terrible At All!

  • Daniel spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 4:55 pm

    Great idea! I don’t have much experience with classic film from which to draw on, but I’ll try to spread the word at the very least.

  • Kevyn Knox spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 5:15 pm

    I will be there with bells on. The banner is already on my blog. Great cause.

  • Greg F spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 5:59 pm

    Marilyn, this is going to be a hit, I can feel it. It’s very exciting to be involved and I want to thank you for letting me be a small part of it. I’d like to do one or two more commercials in the next month leading up to it using images sent to me by the Film Preservation Foundation. Once done I’ll let you and Farran know and put up a link on the FB Fan Page (and Cinema Styles) and promote, promote, promote!

  • Marilyn spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 6:12 pm

    Daniel – This might be a good opportunity for you to find out a little more about preservation, but that’ll happen just by reading the posts. Any support you can offer will be greatly appreciated!
    Kevyn – You’re the best. We’re very excited about NFPF’s role in this; they’ve really gotten into the spirit and will be providing daily content on the Fan Page on FB.
    Greg – I agree. And we couldn’t make the kind of impact we need without your great work. Thanks very, very much.

  • Operator 99 spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 9:37 pm

    I am ready to participate, and look forward to all the other blogger’s contributions for this great cause.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 9:44 pm

    Very happy to have you aboard, Operator 99. I can’t wait to read what you produce – it should be interesting, given your film interests.

  • lady wakasa spoke:
    6th/01/2010 to 10:12 pm

    I’ll be out of town that week, but I think I can front-load before leaving so all I have to do is post.
    I can already think of three movies and another couple of scenes to include, LOL.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    7th/01/2010 to 7:32 am

    Danielle – I knew a silents lover like you would come through. Thanks!

  • Vincent spoke:
    12th/01/2010 to 10:18 am

    Just thought I’d let you know I plan to participate at my blog, “Carole & Co.”; film preservation is something I feel strongly about, since it’s a crucial link to our past. I wrote about this topic, and your cohort the Siren, in my entry today, which also notes the living centennial of Luise Rainer:

  • Marilyn spoke:
    12th/01/2010 to 10:25 am

    Thank you Vincent. We welcome your participation!

  • Rob Gonsalves spoke:
    1st/02/2010 to 4:27 pm

    I’m gonna be writing up “The Race to Save 100 Years” over at my blog,

  • Marilyn spoke:
    1st/02/2010 to 4:36 pm

    Thanks so much, Rob! I’ll put this up on the FB fan page.

  • Operator99 spoke:
    3rd/02/2010 to 6:01 pm

    Finally decided. I’ll be looking at all the films listed in a 1931 edition of Photoplay and cataloging those available, those unavailable or lost and those definitely lost. You can perhaps guess the ratio, but the news ain’t all that good. Some other analogous imagery and thoughts on the cultural importance of ALL film as well.

  • Marilyn spoke:
    3rd/02/2010 to 6:08 pm

    Perfect topic, Operator 99. Thanks so much for throwing your hat in the ring. Can’t wait to read it.

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What others say about us

"You put a lot of love into your blog." – Roger Ebert, Roger Ebert's Journal
"Marilyn and Roderick … always raising the tone." – Farran Smith Nehme, The Self-Styled Siren
"Honestly, you both have made me aware of films I've never seen, from every era. Mega enriching." – Donna Hill, Strictly Vintage Hollywood

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