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The Lens: Saving celluloid

This article first appearedin the St. Louis Beacon, Oct. 22, 2009 - There were about 600 films released in the United States last year, and probably a few dozen or more struggling to find distributors are going straight to video. There were hundreds of films produced in other countries that will probably be seen outside of their home countries. Add to that the thousands of hours of television produced in a year and the 35 would-be viral videos that land in your mailbox every day and it becomes clear that we are overwhelmed with film and video.

For more than a century, we have become very proficient at producing moving images of one kind or another. When it comes to preserving, restoring or simply keeping track of them ... well that's another story.

And that's why we owe a debt to the work of the Association of Moving Image Archivists , an organization whose members are active in the preservation of everything from lost Hollywood epics to barely screened B-movies, from local TV broadcasts to those embarassing home movies of your family's 1956 backyard barbecue.

From Nov. 4 through Nov. 7, the AMIA will be bringing their annual meeting to our own backyard, at the Millenium Hotel. Ever wondered whether those home movies your grandfather made of Evelyn West are of historic value? The wife nagging you about doing something with those old reels of Von Stroheim's “Greed” that have been cluttering the attic for the last 85 years? Contact an AMIA member and find out.

The Lens is the blog of Cinema St. Louis, hosted by the Beacon.

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