Film Preservation 1993: Orphans and the Culture Wars

Janna Jones

in The Past Is a Moving Picture

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780813041926
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780813043906 | DOI:
Film Preservation 1993: Orphans and the Culture Wars

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This chapter interprets the archival discourse at the 1993 National Film Preservation Board congressional hearings as an indirect outcome of the Culture Wars and the Christian Right's successful attack on National Endowment of the Arts, the primary funder of film preservation in the United States. Federal funding for preservation had been drastically reduced at the same time that the film archive was increasingly understood as the memoryscape of the twentieth century. Part of the purpose of the hearings (and the report that followed) was an attempt to redirect the federal government's film preservation priorities from Hollywood to orphan films and to shift some of the financial burdens of preservation onto film studios. Paramount to the hearings' discourse was that all American citizens might shape their historical consciousness by accessing a wide array of cinematic genres, and for the first time in archival history orphan films were discursively placed front and center. The successful paradigmatic shift from a Hollywood centered preservation plan to an orphan-centered one served to dramatically expand the type and scope of cinematic histories preserved within film archives.

Keywords: Orphan films; National Endowment of the Arts; Culture Wars; National Film Preservation Board; Film Preservation; Library of Congress; Hollywood; Cultural Memory; Film Studios

Chapter.  9869 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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