Poor John Pytlak and Kodak must feel terribly under the gun as the result
of recent discussions about the discontinuation and marginalization of film
Lest my questions erroneously appear to be directed at John or Kodak, I'd
like to address them a little differently.
I've been thinking about all this for days now, and I'm finally going to
take a stab at it.
It's "common knowledge" in the archive community, the film distribution
community, and the film exhibition community that "Kodak intends imminently
to permanently stop the manufacture of motion picture film." Whether this
is true or not, is what this e-mail is attempting to bring to the fore.
Kodak "denies" this, and yet the manufacture of double perf 16mm film is
about to stop. Permanently. Forever.
So the first question is:
To what extent is the above statement actually true?
Can anyone answer definitively ???
The second issue is the PERCEIVED truth of this statement.
If it is NOT TRUE, why then there is nothing to worry about or even
discuss: archives will be able to go on preserving and circulating
spectacular prints (of the quality of Triage's amazing Arzner prints or --
dare I say -- even better) at a reasonable cost , ad infinitum, now and
forever, world without end.
If it IS TRUE, how will the public and scholars get to see the last
surviving motion picture prints of films both rare and common?
It follows that those single prints will be SO PRECIOUS that the (forgive
the term) "anal retentive" policies of archives will actually be justified
by something real and not imagined.
So, assuming for the moment that it's NOT TRUE, that film will be available
forever, and that the price of film will remain reasonable, how can
1) the prohibitively restrictive policies on print circulation ?
2) the exorbitant prices for making prints from existing preservation
elements (real example: one archive charges US$50,000.00 to make a print
from a 3,000 foot, pre-existing preservation element and only on the
condition that they will not guarantee when or if they will ever deliver
this print!) ?
3) the "oath of silence" about the issues involved ?
I'm at a bit of a loss to quote my sources for this information because of
the climate of fear in the archival community. I've just perused an
extraordinary interview in "The Moving Image" with Iris Barry in which she
lucidly explains the history of this paranoia amongst archivists
(government intervention, loss of unique material, and so on), so I'm
coming to understand the traditional behavior of what one might call
"old-guard" archivists (no value judgment intended, just historical
perspective). Nonetheless, I must respect the wishes of certain folks to
So there are the questions, including, now, the question of why archivists
and distributers and exhibitors are terrified to speak out against this
"reign of terror."
The only thing at stake here is the entire future of filmed motion picture
entertainment, preservation, distribution and scholarship. Not much really.
What do y'all think about this?