The Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation Celebrates its 5th Anniversary!
Outfest and the UCLA Film & Television Archive partnered in 2005 to create the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation to address the crisis in LGBT Film Preservation.
HISTORY OF THE OUTFEST LEGACY PROJECT
The idea for the Outfest Legacy Project began years ago in the back of a dark theater during the 20th Anniversary of Outfest when then Executive Director Stephen Gutwillig and actor Steven Buscemi stood watching a faded, deteriorating print of PARTING GLANCES. The print was the best copy available at that time. Across the country on the East Coast, producer and independent film consultant Robert Hawk curated a Tribute to Peter Adair, including a retrospective screening of WORD IS OUT; the print was scratched and missing scenes. The directors of the film, as well as Peter’s family were in attendance – all were horrified at the condition of the only known print. Equally horrifying was the discovery that the original elements were missing. As these people witnessed the horrid state of these seminal films that helped so many audiences find acceptance of their homosexuality and break down the walls of homophobia, a collective awareness became clear - as these movies were deteriorating, part of our LGBT history was deteriorating along with the film. No one was saving our LGBT history and they realized that they ought to do something about it. This desire gave birth to the Legacy Project.
Outfest and the UCLA Film & Television Archive were a perfect match for this endeavor. Outfest began 28 years ago on the UCLA campus by grad students led by Larry Horne. Horne approached then Director of the Archive Robert Rosen and Programmer Geoff Gilmore to have an LGBT gay media conference and film festival. The first three years of screenings were held on the UCLA campus. In 2005, Outfest led by Stephen Gutwillig and Kirsten Schaffer, were looking for a way to grow the organization, to create progressive change on national and international grounds. The creation of a long-term, expansive LGBT preservation program necessarily needed the partnership of a film archive as Outfest staff had neither the resources nor the technical expertise. Outfest approached the UCLA Film & Television Archive led by then Director Tim Kittleson and then Dean Bob Rosen, and archivists both gay and straight were thrilled to begin this collaboration.
By combining forces, Outfest and the UCLA Film & Television Archive have been able to take the excellent networking/publicity force behind the longest running and most recognizable LGBT film non-profit and blend it with the preservation, conservation and academic strength of a formidable archive and educational institution.
The Outfest Legacy Project is the only film preservation program in the world devoted to addressing the growing crisis of LGBT films and moving image media being lost to deterioration and neglect.
The Outfest Legacy Project is a collaboration with the UCLA Film & Television Archive. (Outfest and the Archive select preservation projects and raise the necessary funds. The Archive completes the restoration work and houses the collection forever.)
The crisis: The preservation and collection of LGBT moving images has historically posed unique challenges for traditional archives. There is no system in place to restore or save independent, orphan or films made for and by people on the margins of the Hollywood canon. Very, very few major LGBT titles of the last 30 years have ever been preserved. (Tapes and DVDs don’t count. They have no permanent archival value.) The Legacy Project was created to protect films that do not have a studio’s support or other financial means in place to support it.
HOW IT WORKS
Access to the Public:
Our goal is to collect and conserve a diverse range of LGBT film and media in order to make access copies available for research viewing on the UCLA campus. As of January 2010, Outfest and UCLA have established the largest publicly accessible and comprehensive collection of LGBT moving images for research and study (over 13,000 items and growing). For the most recent list, please see:http://www.cinema.ucla.edu/collections/Profiles/outfest.html
The Legacy Project has hosted over 50 public screenings – at Outfest events, in collaboration with other film series in Los Angeles, at film festivals across the world and many as part of our bimonthly screening series at the UCLA Film & Television Archive’s Billy Wilder Theater in Westwood (courtyard of the Hammer Museum).
The Legacy Project will launch its newest access program, LEGACY PROJECT ONLINE: AN LGBT EDUCATIONAL RESOURCE this spring.
Preservation and Restoration Projects:
We have a collection of archive-quality 16mm and 35mm prints of significant LGBT titles.
We fundraise to restore damaged films to their initial release forms. Our restoration projects have been given new life and have screened to new audiences around the world:
- PARTING GLANCES (1986, Bill Sherwood) feature film restoration
- WORD IS OUT (1978, Mariposa Film Group) feature documentary film restoration
- CHOOSING CHILDREN (1984, Kim Klausner and Debra Chasnoff) feature documentary film restoration
- QUEENS AT HEART (1967, Unknown Director) short documentary film restoration
- TOM CHOMONT COLLECTION, (1967-71) nine Avant-Garde short film restorations
- FIRST LOS ANGELES GAY PRIDE PARADE (1970, Pat Rocco) short documentary film restoration
- ONE NATIONAL GAY & LESBIAN ARCHIVE COLLECTION, over 80 hours of video preservation of historic interviews and footage
- LEGACY PROJECT COLLECTION, 75 feature length titles of video preservation
- GAY SUNSHINE PRESS POETRY, featuring Allen Ginsberg (1977) video preservation
- Our next project is DIFFERENT FROM THE OTHERS (1919, Oswald)
To address years of neglect in this field and keep the damage from spreading any further, we’re educating filmmakers and audiences about the importance of LGBT film preservation to our community’s shared legacy.In 2008, the Archive’s Research and Student Center (ARSC) co-sponsored a for-credit undergraduate course at UCLA to introduce the Legacy Collection as a research resource. In addition, numerous courses at UCLA extensively utilize the Legacy Project collection to augment lectures and class assignments.The Legacy Project collection has become an integral research collection of the Archive Research and Study Center at UCLA, utilized by scholars across disciplines.