Librarian Filmmakers Program Postponed

InfoWhale writes "Librarian Filmmakers Program Postponed
By Steve Fesenmaier Jan. 18, 2005

Thanks to a small article in American Libraries and several postings on media librarian listservs and LisNews, I discovered that there are indeed several librarians other than myself who have worked on films. Everyone knows that there are many librarian-turned-authors, receiving regular coverage in the library press. However, this is the first time that anyone has planned to present films by librarians-turned-filmmaker (or visa versa.)

My proposed program for New York Public Library's Donnell Library Center in New York City will NOT be taking place. Marie Nesthus, the director of the Media Center, told me that budget cuts have required that she make hard decisions on what to eliminate from this season's planned programming. The Librarian Filmmaker program has been postponed. Mark Syp, one of the librarian filmmakers, expressed an interest in doing something at his library, The St. Louis Public Library. I myself also plan on presenting such a program, either at one of West Virginia's two annual statewide library conferences, or at one of the other venues I program.

About half a dozen library staff members contacted me about their interest. Ms. Nesthus herself has a staff member who has worked on several films. Mr.William Sloan, Nesthus' predecessor at Donnell and semi-retired MLS librarian who ran MOMA's circulating film program for several decades, informed me that a new documentary about him will not be finished soon. Erik Barnouw, past director of film at The Library of Congress, produced a famous film called "Nagasaki-Hiroshima 1945" distributed by MOMA and still shown all over the world on a regular basis.

I was going to make my MLS thesis on video. I had taken a course on video production from the University-Community Video Center at the University of Minnesota and hoped to make a program on the many small presses in the Minneapolis area. I was hired by The West Virginia Library Commission right after completing course work so I had to move. I ended up writing two MLS theses - one was on cinema anti-therapy that was partially published in Film/Psychology Review and the other, accepted, was on 16 mm film selection policies.

Two films about librarians may be of special interest to anyone interested in librarian filmmakers. Julian Samuel, a Canadian filmmaker, has produced two films - the first is "The Library in Crisis" and the second, "Save and Burn," is a feature documentary about British and Arab libraries. ( I provided some research for the film and my review is posted at Counterpunch magazine - l.) Mr. Samuel has used experimental film techniques to explore many issues of contemporary librarianship and should be shown in every MLS school. I have shown "Crisis" at a state library conference and plan on showing "Save and Burn" this April at our statewide conference.

However, my original inspiration for the series, Jeremy Horton, who directed a Sundance quality film, "100 Proof," while still not located, did get Facets to sell his film, including a VHS copy to myself. Horton worked at the Lexington, Ky. library shortly before he made "100 Proof." I have been working on many films since I gained my MLS in 1979 and Became the director of Film Services in West Virginia, being the only MLS listed in the standard productions guides for Hollywood filmmakers. I worked on Les Blank's "In Heaven There is No Beer?" while in Minnesota, and was assistant director for an indie film, "The Book of Love,"(1973) directed by Julian Smilian who is a teacher at the famed North Carolina School for the Arts. Recently I worked with Lars von Trier who sent his researcher to WV from Copenhagen to investigate the life of young men growing up in coal camps. ( Thomas Vinterberg of "Ceremony" fame directed the film that opens this week at Sundance.) I have worked on at least 30 productions since 1978 including John Sayles' "Matewan" and Mari-Lynn Evans' three-part series, "The Appalachians," to be shown on national PBS in April 2005.

Here is some info on librarian-filmmakers who responded -

· Christine Wallace, presently working as a library technician while in MLS school, produced a short film in 2002 that was directed by her brother and shot in 35 mm.

· Marc P. Syp is the media director for St. Louis Public Library. He shot a promotional film for the city that can be seen at - Click on "Media" and then "This Is Saint Louis: Media Campaign." He also directed a mock documentary on a young man who wanted to become a
clown just like his grandfather in 1998.

· Jenni Matz worked on a film called "Abe Lerner: A Life In Books" which was produced for the NY Typophiles and which was screened at APHA-NE last fall. It is about the life of a book designer and editor. She is a Simmons MLS student.

· Michael Wilson was a library assistant at the University of San Francisco. He has a MFA and has been making films for several years, and his work has been screened throughout the US and the world at film festivals. He sent me a VHS copy of his excellent film on the wife of Eadweard Muybridge, "Flora's Film."

· Richard Rivera has written and produced documentaries for Discovery Channel and History Channel before he entered graduate school in Library and Information Science at USC.

· Ann Seidl is well known for her mind-blowingly entertaining slide show, "The Hollywood Librarian," about Hollywood portraits of librarians, has offered to show her slides and clips of the 35-mm feature documentary she is producing on the subject.

Like Ms. Nesthus, I believe that there are many, many more librarians Who have worked on films, or who presently are working on films - as researchers, as producers, as actors. One new MLS in West Virginia will be working for her old employer, ABC News, on the Bush II Inauguration in Washington, DC.

I hope other people who are interested will contact me at - [email protected] including Jeremy Horton, and one day soon there will be programs around the country showing how librarians can make films, not just distribute them."

Library of Congress picks 25 movies with a place in history

The Reader's Shop writes "Films teaching Cold War children to "duck and cover" and describing how Oskar Schindler saved thousands of Jews from the Holocaust are being added to the National Film Registry. Also being preserved: films with Elvis Presley and Rin Tin Tin.

They are among 25 films selected by the Library of Congress for the registry, which now holds 400 pictures.

The The Associated Press Reports"


Reading Films, Watching Books

Anonymous Patron writes "The New York Times In a season flooded with film biographies, there are fascinating novels and nonfiction books offering fresh and sometimes alternative views of people we've come to know onscreen, from the Peter Pan-ish J. M. Barrie to the empire-building Howard Hughes. And often the best of these books are not direct movie tie-ins."


Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events Coming Soon

Anonymous Patron writes "In case you live in a cave and haven't heard, "Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events", has been made into a movie. Plenty of coverage this week all over the place., San Francisco Chronicle, Arizona Republic and The Boston Herald are just a few of the Many places with coverage. The Movie Reviews so far are mixed, at best. Here's the official website for the series."


Marple: Body in the Library

Anonymous Patron writes "One from the Hollywood Reporter on the Agatha Christie mystery "The Body in the Library" being made into a TV movie. They say There are four films in the new "Marple" series, and if they're all as good as the first one, Christie fans have a treat in store."


Outsider Reviews of "The Librarian"

I avoided any reviews or previews of "The Librarian: Quest of the Spear," before I watched the movie and wrote it up. Here is what others have said about it:

An overall "pretty good" from
Maxim hated it.
San Francisco Chronicle calls it "anemic."Noah Wyle puts it in the "win" column for, who smells a sequel.
Reuters is lukewarm.
Rick Kushman at the Sacramento Bee calls it "dopey" but "in a good way."


A librarian on The Librarian

I was asked by Larra Clark, Media Relations Manager for ALA’s Public Information Office if I would consider writing a review of TNT’s made-for-tv movie,“The Librarian: Quest for the Spear.� I had no plans to watch it, as it didn’t seem very interesting, and seemed to be a cheesy morphing of other movies: Buffy vs. Tomb Raiders of the Lost Ark or something like that. But, I gave two hours to the home team to have a look at this stanky-*ss movie. ALA got my much briefer, more tempered (although no less negative) review.

The difficulty in reviewing this is that I was focusing on the portrayal of librarians. If I’d taken it as the campy fun for which it was, hopefully, intended, I might have enjoyed it more. I suspect that this will become a librarian cult classic, alongside Desk Set and Party Girl. As is, I groaned and smacked my forehead throughout the movie. My 13-year-old joined me as a co-reviewer.

What follows is a blow-by-blow running commentary. If you didn’t watch the movie, be glad you didn't.

Okay...I've softened a bit. Go ahead and watch it. Don't take my word for it. It's like Velveeta...a guilty pleasure, and pretty cheesy.


Review of new documentary PHILOSOPHER'S PARADISE

InfoWhale writes "Philosopher's Paradise
Reviewed by Steve Fesenmaier, Nov. 30, 2004
Pawel Kucynski, a Polish-American filmmaker, has created a very nice film about contemporary philosophy. Mixing personal documentary, as in Ross McElwee's works - "Sherman's March," now "Bright Leaves," and a sense of drama as in the Canadian feature, "The Barbarian Invasions," this super-home movie is about a father and son and the family, as are McElwee's films.
There is a paradise in the film - a religious community with that name. But it also refers to the philosophy/religion his father, the founder of "universalism" wants to create. It is important to know that the father decided to create this philosophical religion after the collapse of Communism and the Berlin Wall. Apparently there are now believers from around the world, and we get to meet several of them.
The crisp, often beautiful images are combined with ethereal music That definitely puts the viewer into the proper mood. It is also nice that after a few minutes of it, the director returns to more mundane realities. At the end of the film, we see the philosopher father in the hospital, as the professor is in "The Barbarian Invasions." Luckily, the film doesn't spin off into a melo-drama about 9/11 even though there is one 9/11 scene in the film. All of human life post-9/11 does have some direct link to it - even in Poland.
I found this wonderful little film on the International Documentary Association website - and within a few days the director sent it to me from Poland. What a great reality the web can be - and I thank Pawel for sending it to me so quickly so I don't have to lose my passion for such an interesting sounding film.
Has there ever been a philosopher's paradise? I like to think that philosophers keep their distance from each other so they have room to create their own paradises. I know that while I was at a giant university with two dozen philosophers I certainly did not feel like it was a paradise - I thought that the students and even the professors were minimally interested in anything but their jobs and careers. Plato's Republic also was not a paradise.
Maybe I should learn more about "universalism"?

For more info on the film -"


National Movie Library Opening in 2006 in VA

The Culpeper (VA) Center is the current name of the future repository of America's film history, and a part of the Library of Congress. The library will be "a mega-Blockbuster" with 56 miles of shelf space for America's film library."

Films include original negatives of Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman from the movie `Casablanca,"' said Greg Lukow, chief of the library's Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division. "We have film shot by Thomas Edison."

Construction of the first phase of the project at the old Federal Reserve Bank site east of Culpeper began in August 2000. The Federal Reserve storage area, which was all underground, was unearthed and refurbished. This will become the Collections Building, which will store nearly 3 million sound and radio recordings and more than 1 million films. Story from WTOP News .


Book vs. Movie: The Polar Express

Anonymous Patron writes "Book vs. Movie: The Polar Express While the book is already a Caldecott Medal winner and a Christmas classic destined to be read and re-read by children of all ages, the movie is equally appealing. It's a warm, blissful Christmas celebration that obviously comes straight from the heart. The story is captivating and engaging for all ages, but even more importantly, the film feels as ageless as the book does. Both the book and the movie could have been as special to readers and audiences in the 1930s as they are today."



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