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Archives Go to the Movies

The Anthology Film Archives is among the long list of neat places I’ve always wanted to visit but never got the chance. At least that was the case until Thursday night when I attend the Archivists Round Table (ART) event, “Films from New York’s Vault III: Archives Go to the Movies.” Anthology Film Archives is an international center for the preservation, study, and exhibition of film and video with a special emphasis on alternative, avant-garde, independent productions and the classics. They have saved tens of thousands of films from disposal and disintegration and also have the world’s largest collection of materials documenting the history of American and International avant-garde/independent film. The ART event took place in one of their theaters, which are equipped with 35mm, 16mm, 8mm, super-8mm, and video projection. The films shown were:

Teenage Cosmonauts (USSR, 1980) – A documentary film on the topic of special schools instituted in the Soviet Union to train youngsters in the skills to prepare them to be cosmonauts or to work in related fields. From the Tamiment Library, New York University.

Handling the Mentally Ill III (1969). From the New York City Police Museum.

Footage of Nikita Kruschev and Fidel Castro Visits to New York City (circa 1960). From the New York City Police Museum.

 Placing Safety Cones (1969). From the New York City Police Museum.

[Main Street, USA] (Date unknown) – “…this town, is designed for spies, spies who, after completion of their training, will one day infiltrate American society and report their findings to the Soviet government.” From the New York City Police Museum.

Anita Needs Me (1963) – A tour de force- a panting, overheated Bronx tale of lust, guilt, sacrifice, redemption and…mother. Preserved by the Anthology Film Archives as part of the Avant-Garde Masters Grant program administered by the National Film Preservation Foundation and funded by The Film Foundation.

While all of the films screened were interesting, my favorites came from The New York City Police Museum. I have always had keen interest in the police, an interest that almost lead me to become a police officer myself. The training films, Handling the Mentally Ill III (1969) and Placing Safety Cones (1969) were hilarious. [Main Street, USA] was the most intriguing of those films screened due to the surrounding mystery. Research had been done to try and discover more about this film but there was nothing to either confirm or deny that such a Soviet town really existed and it was designed to educate spies.

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