The Pacific Film Archive is actively engaged in film preservation, with an emphasis on independent and experimental films, in addition to works pertinent to our collecting priorities.
Over the past decade PFA has been awarded preservation grants by the American Film Institute, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF), and the Women’s Film Preservation Fund. PFA has preserved films by Bruce Baillie, Scott Bartlett, Charles Burnett, Bruce Conner, George Kuchar, Gunvor Nelson, Robert Nelson, Alice Anne Parker, Sidney Peterson, Chick Strand, Trinh T. Minh-ha, and Wayne Wang, among others. Several films preserved by PFA were chosen for inclusion in NFPF’s award-winning DVD sets, Treasures from American Film Archives and Treasures IV: American Avant-Garde Film, 1947-1986. In conjunction with a tribute to the National Center for Experiments in Television (NCET), a groundbreaking artists’ research center that, in the 1960s, explored the use of television and video technology to create lively, abstract visual poetry, PFA preserved over forty videoworks, and continues to preserve outstanding video art. Currently we are preserving a group of avant-garde films and videos as part of PFA’s Radical Light: Alternative Film and Video in the San Francisco Bay Area, 1945–2000 project, which will result in exhibition programs and a book in fall 2010.
PFA also undertakes collaborative preservation projects with other archives, such as one in 1993 with the National Film Center, Tokyo, which resulted in the preservation and repatriation of several Japanese nitrate films that had been donated to PFA. With the support of an NFPF Matching Grant and the close collaboration of the Academy Film Archive, PFA is now preserving eight films by Chick Strand.
An essential but often overlooked aspect of film conservation is proper storage, and PFA seeks to work with independent film- and videomakers who may not be able to provide good storage conditions for their film or video originals. Through our selective acceptance of donations or long-term deposits, and preservation when funding permits, PFA provides support to individuals whose work might otherwise be damaged or lost.
PFA recognizes the unique cultural importance of amateur and home movie footage and welcomes inquiries about archiving such materials on a selective basis. We encourage filmmakers to retain their film originals, or donate them to an archive when appropriate, even if transfers to video, DVD, or other media are made. PFA collection staff answer questions about storage, lab services, and other issues related to film conservation. We do not discuss financial appraisals of collections, but may be able to provide references to experts in the field. As members of AMIA (Association of Motion Picture Archivists), PFA staff participate in annual conferences and exchange information with other professionals.
PFA encourages the community to alert us regarding films that may be in danger of disposal or deterioration. Through its role as a regional archive as well as its membership in FIAF (the International Federation of Film Archives), PFA helps to preserve the motion picture heritage so important to us all.