National Film Preservation Foundation Avant-Garde Masters Grant Program to support NYU MIAP-Flaherty Project

Wednesday, Jul 8, 2020

The National Film Preservation Fund (NFPF) has awarded a grant to the Flaherty Seminar to fund the preservation of Saul Levine’s Notes on an Early Fall (1976). The National Film Preservation Foundation was created by the US Congress in 1996 to help save America's film heritage. It supports activities nationwide that preserve US films and improve film access for study, education, and exhibition.

Following a series of successful collaborations with the Flaherty, the proposal was prepared under the guidance of filmmaker and artist Bill Brand, who has been a long-time faculty member in New York University Moving Image Archiving and Preservation Program. The grant proposal was developed during the 2018-19 academic year by student Miles Levy as part of Brand's Film Preservation course.  Brand will bring this project to his Film Preservation course, which is part of the MIAP’s Master of Arts degree curriculum. A description of these collaborations can be read here. These earlier projects were made possible with regular NFPF grants; the preservation of Levine’s work corresponds to the Avant-Garde Masters Grant Program that, according to the website, is made possible through the generosity of The Film Foundation to support “laboratory work to preserve significant examples of America's avant-garde film heritage. The grants are available to nonprofit and public archives.” The information on the website adds: “This grant supports the preservation of a film or films by a single filmmaker or from a cinematic group significant to the development of avant-garde film in America.”

In the mid-1970s, when Saul Levine began experimentations with the unification of sound and moving image with his new Super 8mm sound camera, it marked a change from his previous silent works and a “fall” from the strict formality of producing moving image materials based purely on the visual. Notes of an Early Fall started a new chapter in Levine’s ongoing series of small gauge films titled Notes including, among many others, Note One (1968), Lost Note (1968-69), New Left Note (1968-82), Note to Pati (1969) and Note to Colleen (1974).  The film plays a significant role in the history of Avant-Garde film more generally for its innovative exploration of montage through in-camera and post-production sound/image relationships in the Super 8mm sound format. According to the NFPF website, “by its very nature avant-garde film is hard to define. Avant-garde film is generally produced and distributed outside mainstream film channels. Often created by a single filmmaker or a small team, these films are intended as artistic expressions. They often experiment with the film medium in unique and personal ways.”

We congratulate our colleague Bill Brand and the Flaherty Seminar.  We look forward to the preservation of this important film, the participation of MIAP students, and the opportunity to make it accessible to different audiences. 

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