The Metro Theatre Center Foundation has won a grant to preserve the JFK and RFK films on film
The films we acquired from Dan Sassa of JFK and RFK, shot by his grandfather, Augustus Sassa, and featured on NBC’s The Today Show are now going to be preserved on film. On November 13th 2013, just weeks before the commemoration of the death of President Kennedy, the very first short glimpses of this material were introduced on The Today Show by NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell, along with presidential historian Michael Beschloss, who called this cache of films the most important discovery of Kennedy material in 25 years. Now the world will be able to see all 38 minutes of this material for the first time. Read the article on Today News.
The 8mm Kodachrome originals will be blown up to a 16mm internegative, and prints will be struck from the negative, thanks to a grant from The National Film Preservation Foundation. Although we have already made high resolution digital scans of the material, this does not guarantee long term survival and access of the films.
No one knows how long digital files will survive and be viable. They are not considered by the international preservation community to satisfy the definition of “archival” (the material must be accessible and be able to be presented or copied in the same form and look as the original). We have only had digital technology for about 25 years, but we have had film for more than 125 years, and we know that film is an archival medium because it can be viewed and copied more than a century after its creation.
The Metro Theatre Center Foundation is pleased to announce that the materials produced under this grant will be assure the safety and long-term existence of the Augustus Sassa Collection of JFK and RFK home movies, shot by Sassa, and saved by his grandson, Dan.
After the laboratory work by 8mm blow up specialist Michael Hinton, the 8mm originals will be returned to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Film Archives in Hollywood. The 16mm materials will be placed at different archives in the USA for preservation. Digital copies will also be deposited with those archives to allow the public to research and study these very rare and unusual home movies of the Kennedys.
We are very pleased to have received this grant from The National Film Presentation Foundation, and we thank them for their support of this important film preservation project.
Please contact me if you have any films that you want preserved. Every foot of film is a precious piece of our collective experience.
Director of Film and Cultural Programs
The Metro Theatre Center Foundation
Looking To the Future by Preserving the Past
As part of our three-year initiative to preserve historically and culturally significant home movies, we have located and acquired more than 2000 collections of 8mm, super 8 and 16mm home movies, from the USA and around the world. It is important to remember that “past is prologue” and without an understanding of the past, it’s places and people and events, we would go blindly into the future. Because so much of our collective history, especially personal history, is stored on home movies that were shot in many gauges of film and video, we really must work to save these precious documents of who we were before they are lost to deterioration.
As part of our project to save these amazing films, we have acquired a state-of-the-art film scanner that digitizes the films in HD 1080p resolution, and makes them available for study and research, and possible use by filmmakers in new projects, for the first time since these films ran through the cameras. Indeed, these are all camera originals, the very film that was shot by families and their resident camera experts, from as early as 1923.
In October of 2013, we located 38 minutes of never-before-seen footage of President John F. Kennedy and his brother, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, which was seen on the NBC Today show on November 15, 2013, with our very own Director of Film and Cultural Programs, Ron Merk, explaining how the films were discovered and how they will be preserved and made available for study and research.
A year ago, the foundation entered into an agreement with the archives of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, to deposit all of the original films elements in their state-of-the-art temperature and humidity controlled film vaults for long-term storage and preservation. We also are providing them with digital copies of all the films so that researchers, journalists and students can view the films. This partnership with the Academy Film Archives assures a long and rich life for these films, one that will keep them vibrant and safe, and continually in the eyes of the public.
A second partnership was formed in June of last year, with The Center for Asian American Media, which provided us with an office and other support for our film scanning project. We are very pleased to be working with Stephen Gong and Davin Agatep and other CAAM staff to support their Memories to Light Project, and the preservation of Asian-American Home movies.
All of this costs money and time. The more support we have from the public, the more films we can locate and preserve. So, please think about making a donation to our foundation, either by check or PayPal. We are a 501 (3) non-profit and donations are tax deductible to the extent provided by applicable law.
Look for some clips from our amazing home movie collection on this website soon.