Underground Film Journal

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2011 Avant-Garde Masters Grants Announced

By Mike Everleth ⋅ August 17, 2011

Abstract computer images of a person running

The National Film Preservation Foundation and the Film Foundation have announced the recipients of their annual Avant-Garde Masters Grants, which goes towards preserving classic experimental, avant-garde and underground films.

This year, $50,000 will be given to five different film preservation and archival organizations to preserve 10 avant-garde films from the ’60s and the ’70s. The most significant recipient of grant funds is Ohio State University who will be preserving five early works by Lillian Schwartz, a pioneer in early computer animation.

Pictured above is a film still courtesy of Ohio State from Schwartz’s Olympiad (1971), one of the films being preserved. The other four are Pixillation (1970), Enigma (1972), Mutations (1972), and Papillons (1973). While computer animation is ubiquitous today, Schwartz led early efforts to use computer languages to create artistic animated forms.

According to Dan Streible, acting director of NYU’s Moving Image Archiving and Preservation program:

Lillian Schwartz worked alongside AT&T research scientists to create new ways of generating geometric forms, colorful abstractions, and human figures in motion. Her films document the state of computer language in the early seventies, but they also remain delightful to see and hear as works of art. Thanks to this Avant-Garde Masters grant, NYU staff and students will work with The Ohio State University to save and make available again five of her earliest experiments.

Most of the other recipients of this year’s grant cycle will be preserving the work of, like Schwartz, other, not commonly celebrated film artists, which actively proves the importance of the grant program in preserving the full scope of underground film history. Recipients of grants include:

1. George Eastman House preserving Mark Rappaport’s Mozart in Love (1975).

2. Los Angeles Filmforum preserving Robert Chatterton’s Passion in a Seaside Slum (1961), which features underground superstar Taylor Mead.

3. Silver Bow Art preserving Beryl Sokoloff’s Gaudi (1962).

The only major artist having work preserved this year is Andy Warhol, whose Dance Movie (1963) and Tiger Morse (1966), will be preserved by the Andy Warhol Museum.

To see a list of all the films that have been preserved with the help of the Avant-Garde Masters Grants over its nine year history, you can search via grant winners on the National Film Preservation Foundation’s website.

Official information of both organizations:

The National Film Preservation Foundation is the nonprofit organization created by the U.S. Congress to help save America’s film heritage. Founded in 1996, the NFPF has supported film preservation in all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia and has helped save more than 1,820 films and collections. The NFPF is the charitable affiliate of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress.

The Film Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1990 by Martin Scorsese, is dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history and provides substantial annual support for preservation and restoration projects at major film archives. The foundation raises awareness of the urgent need to preserve films and has helped save over 555 films. Joining Scorsese on the board are Woody Allen, Paul Thomas Anderson, Wes Anderson, Francis Ford Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Curtis Hanson, Peter Jackson, Ang Lee, George Lucas, Alexander Payne, Robert Redford and Steven Spielberg. The Film Foundation is aligned with the Directors Guild of America whose President and Secretary-Treasurer serve on the foundation’s board.