Minister for the Arts Peter Garrett has announced a new partnership to preserve and make available eight 'lost' short American silent films that have been identified in the collection of the NFSA. Through a new program called "Film Connection: Australia-America", the NFSA and the US National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF) will preserve eight films that no longer survive in the United States.
The films range from 1912 to 1927 and are important missing links in early film history. There are newsreels, documentaries, trailers, and Hollywood promotional films which filled out theatre programs and were widely seen by audiences in the US and Australia.
The NFSA's Chief Curator, Meg Labrum, says that the films would be preserved as a set and digital copies would be made for online delivery. They will be accessible in the US through the major silent film archives, including George Eastman House, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and the Library of Congress.
Only a fraction of American films created in the early decades of the motion picture industry have survived and the Library of Congress estimates that one third of the survivors exist only in archives outside the US.
Meg Labrum says that the collection includes trailers for feature films that have themselves been lost, such as The Sin Woman (1917). There is a trailer of Frank Capra's 1927 Long Pants with Harry Langdon, a 1920 Mutt and Jeff cartoon, and a very rare Pathé Newsreel from 1920.
Read the full media release on Minister Garrett's website.