Anthology Film Archives showcases old-fashioned 35mm and other prints
If digital technology has made old-fashioned 35mm movie exhibition obsolete, it is news to Jed Rapfogel. The film programmer at Anthology Film Archives in the East Village suggests that celluloid’s apparent sunset could also be a golden age—at least for New York audiences.
“Paradoxically, as digital is taking over and film is fading away, we’re getting these very beautiful prints from the studios and archives,” said Mr. Rapfogel. “You’re more aware of the beauty as you realize these prints have become rarer.”
Preserving and showcasing physical film prints is a core mission for Anthology, which holds one of the world’s most extensive collections of avant-garde films on not just 35mm, but on 16mm, and Super-8mm film as well.
Their increasing rarity stems from the perishable nature of film stock and a lack of regard for preservation in the earlier decades of the form, Mr. Rapfogel said. Some half of all films made before 1950 have been lost, according to the Film Foundation, the nonprofit organization founded by Martin Scorcese to preserve and restore film. Enemies include extreme temperatures, humidity and improper storage; until 1952, film stock was nitrate-based, which made it a fire hazard, said Margaret Bodde, the foundation’s executive director.