Preserve Your Queer Films

September 7th, 2011

In support of the Outfest Legacy Project screening at Gene Siskel Film Center this Thursday, Sept 8 at 8PM, I am taking the opportunity to convey what good the archive is doing to preserve the memory of queer film as well as how easy it is to support its ongoing preservation projects, which keep the air conditioning cooling its 5,000 title archive. The organization, which also holds the Outfest Lesbian and Gay Film Festival in Los Angeles is “the first film preservation program in the world dedicated to saving and protecting LGBT cinema.” Outfest will have its 30th anniversary festival next year and the Legacy Awards Gala will take place October 20th this year to benefit film preservation. The 95 minute program at the Siskel Center features an exciting line-up of rarely screened queer shorts as follows:

Three fascinating films rescued by the Outfest Legacy Project provide priceless records of the evolution of LGBT consciousness. MONA’S CANDLELIGHT (1950, Director unknown, 28 min.) provides an authentic picture of the habitu├ęs of a San Francisco lesbian bar, including performances by drag king Jimmy Reynard and singer Jan Jansen. QUEENS AT HEART (1967, Director unknown, 22 min.) depicts candid interviews with four male-to-female transsexuals in New York City. CHOOSING CHILDREN (1984, Debra Chasnoff and Kim Klausner, 45 min.) presents emotionally powerful portraits of some of the first lesbian mothers. All in color 35mm. (MR,

Outfest Legacy Project and the UCLA Film & Television Archive hold notable prints such as Word is Out, Desert Hearts, Edge of Seventeen, Wild Reeds, and Saturday Night at the Baths. The list doesn’t stop here, the full catalog is available online along with information on academic and scholarly access to the archive. Outfest’s bi-monthly screening series in partnership with the UCLA archives most recently featured a retrospective of Pat Rocco mentioned in a past blog on Chicago Filmmakers’ screening of early queer shorts.

The project’s first preservation was footage of a 1977 poetry reading benefit for Gay Sunshine Press featuring Allen Ginsburg. Its first feature film preservation project was Parting Glances (1986), which screened at Outfest’s 25th Anniversary festival in 2007. Another significant holding is of Oral History Interviews conducted by filmmaker Alexandra Juhasz for her documentary Woman of Vision: 18 Histories in Feminist Film & Video (1998).

As a filmmaker, by donating a video copy of your film to the archive, you retain the copyright to the materials while the work is conserved “under strict archival control” at UCLA Film & Television Archive. The Legacy Project will go as far as paying the shipping costs. Every queer filmmaker should be doing this.

Material gifts from GLAAD and ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives have helped grow the Outfest Legacy Project archive, which receives support from David Bohnett, Roland Emmerich, The Andrew J. Kuehn Jr. Foundation, The Hollywood Reporter Foundation, The Hollywood Foreign Press Association, The David Bohnett Foundation, The Academy Foundation, the UCLA Center for Community Partnerships, Dean Hansell & Jason Murakawa. In-Kind donation from Bay Area Video Coalition have enabled preservation work.

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