The 12th Orphan Film Symposium on Water, Climate, and Migration Online

25 May 2020

The 12th Orphan Film Symposium on Water, Climate, and Migration originally to be held in conjunction with the 6th Eye International Conference at Eye Filmmuseum, transformed into an all-online edition due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The symposium dates have shifted to 26, 27, 28 and 29 May, 2020. 

Online experiment
Many of the 60 originally scheduled presenters agreed to experiment with an online edition, mixing live talks and live-stream screenings with texts and video presentations posted on the NYU Orphan Film Symposium website. Contributions come from all over the world: the Bahamas, Argentina, Chile, the Netherlands, China, Italy, Croatia, Ukraine, Poland, England, Germany, Senegal, Austria, Russia, Australia, Sweden, Spain, Mexico, the United States, and Canada.

Orphans and Eye
The Orphan Film Symposium is a renowned bi-annual gathering that has been celebrating abandoned and forgotten films since 1999. Since its first edition, the Filmmuseum has contributed to Orphans. Eye and New York University planned for nearly two years to have the symposium convene again in conjunction with the Eye International Conference. 

After a successful first European edition in Eye in 2014 with over 200 international guests from thirty countries, Eye was looking forward to welcoming again this wonderful community of archivists, scholars, artists, collectors, curators, preservationists, technical experts, students, cinephiles, and others devoted to saving, studying, and screening neglected audio-visual media.

Why Water? 
On the symposium website, Eye’s Chief Curator Giovanna Fossati previews Orphans Online together with Dan Streible (NYU, Founder and Director of Orphans) and other programme committee members, explaining why the three themes were selected and how orphan films in particular address them. 

Fossati elaborates on the theme of water:

The Netherlands has a long history of struggle and cooperation with water, and therefore a long cinematographic tradition of being inspired with the imaginary of water. For the opening night we would have selected some films from the Mutoscope and Biograph 68mm collection held at Eye. Many of these films made in the Netherlands between 1897 and 1902 engage with water.

Because Amsterdam
For the online event, Fossati curated a playlist on the water theme, ‘Because Amsterdam’, existing of nine short movies, from 1899 to 2020. The most recent short film De Filmschatten van Eye [The Film Treasures of Eye] by Annabel Essink, shot in times of lockdown, features 68mm film projections on the walls and interiors of an empty Eye building. 

The playlist also includes 1-minute archival footage compilations inspired on the conference theme made by students in Fossati’s course ‘This is Film! Film Heritage in Practice’. One of these montages is Go with the Flow (by Zena Berendse, Didi Liang, Darius Krolikowski) which contains a panoramic final shot from the water revealing a rainbow on the waterfront where today Eye is located. All eight 1-minute student compilations can been seen on the Eye International Conference website

Live streams
Virtual presentations, streaming video, and other material created by the scheduled presenters have been posted since Mid-May, and new posts and orphan films will be published daily for the rest of May and into June. Most will remain online. The live streams of May 26-28 begin at 16.00, 20.00 en 00.00 h and on 29 May at 20.00 h (CEST). No paid registration is required. All live-stream events will be viewable on the NYU Cinema Studies Vimeo site with links and introductions to those works listed in blog posts. 

Restored films of Henri Plaat
Eye is also present at the online symposium with a video essay by Senior Curator Expanded Cinema Mark Paul Meyer. In this presentation, he introduces Dutch visual artist Henri Plaat (1936), one of the key figures of Dutch experimental cinema whose films are hardly known outside the Netherlands. 

Plaat has created forty-five films on 16mm and 8mm, as well as an extremely rich and versatile oeuvre of graphic work, drawings, gouaches, collages. For Orphans online, Eye provides special streaming access to two of the ten short experimental films Eye digitally restored in 2020: Fragments of Decay (1983) and 2nd War-Hats (1986). 

Helen Hill Award to Martha Colburn and Jaap Pieters 
On Wednesday 27 May at 2:00 pm, New York (8:00 pm, Amsterdam), Orphans Online will include the recurring Helen Hill Award ceremony. This award is presented to independent filmmakers whose work embodies the creative spirit and activism of the late filmmaker Helen Hill (1970-2007). 

Recipients of the 2020 Helen Hill Award are filmmakers Martha Colburn (Los Angeles) and Jaap Pieters (Amsterdam), who will be interviewed by Simona Monizza (Eye Curator Experimental Cinema) and Marius Hrdy (Alchemy Film & Moving Image Festival).

For many years, Eye collaborates closely with both artists, whose work is also part of the collection. Simona Monizza says Colburn and Pieters are “a great match for this award.” Their presence is “both peripheral and global at the same time. Both are uncompromising in their work and lives.”

The virtual award ceremony includes a new assemblage of A Fragmented Encounter with Jaap Pieters on the Occasion of Orphans 2020 by Mark-Paul Meyer (Eye Senior Curator Expanded Cinema) and the screening of four films by Martha Colburn, including two works that have been recently restored by Eye: XXX Amsterdam (2004), A Little Dutch Thrill (2004).

More information
For more information about the schedule of the live-streaming portions of the symposium and the video presentation on the blog page, visit the NYU Orphan Film Symposium website