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May 1998, Week 5


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Kino International Corporation <[log in to unmask]>
Reply To:
Film and TV Studies Discussion List <[log in to unmask]>
Sat, 30 May 1998 14:39:48 -0500
text/plain (60 lines)
OK folks one last rant on the AFI 100 "greatest films" list.
Yesterday two publications were put on my desk ( by cruel office mates) which
point out just what a farce the list and the AFI are.
The first publication was Video Store magazene, the offical trade paper of
the video industry. The AFI 100 greatest promotion filled the magazene with
lots of ads including the whole front cover. Each studio took out ads to
promote it titles which were selected for the list of 400 from which the
100 will be "chosen", and each lauded the " distguished Blue Ribbon Panel"
which chose those classics. According the " news" article inside this
cooperation between AFI and the industry is " The closest thing to a
generic ad campaign the rental industry has ever seen" . I could not have
put it better myself. The article lauds all the cross promotions between
the stores, the studios, The CBS netwark special, Turner network, Newsweek,
Premiere etc. It of course explaines what a great cultural institution the
AFI is and how their great panel of "film historians" selected these great
films. Remember this is the list with those classics: BAREFOOT IN THE PARK,
some new ones each time but I can not resist putting this on all my posts).
This all the list from which there are no documentaries, no ( or maybe one
depending on the distributor) indepedent films and over 95% of titles
chosen from the libraries of the participating(ie paying) studios.
Now on the that other publication that crossed my desk. It was from the
BRITISH FILM INSTITUTE and was a list of 360 great films compiled by David
Meeker for the BFI. This list was exactly the kind real film historians
would make up. It includes many famous studio titles but also lots non-
studion titles and many studio films that studios have never bothered to
put on video. Only about 1/3 of list is American films of those 130+ titles
at least 50 do not even make the AFI's list of the supposed 400 greatest
films.  However the REALLY REMARKABLE thing about this list is its purpose.
The list was put together so that the BFI could try to get good 35mm copies
for its collection and then use them for programming. WOW what a
revolutionary concept, to build a collection of FILM PRINTS that could
actually be used to project to the public.
This is the difference between the AFI and the BFI. In fact in the AFI home
page its stated  goals are TO TRAIN ( like no one else does this) to
Preserve ( as one archivist wrote me " the only preservation the AFI does
is self preservation" ) and TO RECOGNIZE ( give awards). Programming has
never been a concern of theirs.
Well thats all guys but remember as someone says in one of the films AFI
selected as one the 400 greatest " sometimes lost causes are the only ones
worth fighting for".
Jessica Rosner
All views expressed are my own.
Kino International Corporation
333 W. 39th St. Suite 503
New York, NY 10018
fax: (212)714-0871
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