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Short Film: Re-presenting Prelinger

Are film archives static repositories of data and information? Or are they living, breathing and evolving entities? To quote Rick Prelinger at a lecture at the New School in NYC, archives need to be considered as “cultural producers” in order to stay relevant and essential. That lecture forms the core of Christopher S. Childs’ documentary Re-presenting Prelinger, which also includes the type of remixing of selections from Prelinger’s legendary online collection that the archivist urges filmmakers to produce.

If anyone’s to make the case for the accessibility and use of archives, it’s going to be Prelinger who has amassed tens of thousands of educational, industrial, commercial and amateur films, many of which are available online via the popular Archive.org website. The films can be viewed, but — as Prelinger points out — they can be downloaded by other filmmakers and artists to create new works, like Childs has done above.

Three students sitting around a school movie projector

(On a personal note, as a film researcher for the American Film Institute as well as for the Underground Film Journal, I think it would be interesting to see these works presented in an overall narrative of when these films were produced, for what purpose and where they may have been screened. It would be interesting to see the changes of style and presentation for these types of films over the years.)

To learn more about the filmmaker, please visit Childs’ official website and check out some of his other videos on Vimeo.