Every other year an international conference takes place, where scholars, archivists, curators, and media artists devoted to saving, screening, and studying neglected moving images meet to discuss and share information. Their focus is often orphan films.
Narrowly defined, an “orphan” is a motion picture abandoned by its owner or caretaker. More generally, the term refers to all manner of films outside of the commercial mainstream: public domain materials, home movies, outtakes, unreleased films, industrial and educational movies, independent documentaries, ethnographic films, newsreels, censored material, underground works, experimental pieces, silent-era productions, stock footage, found footage, medical films, kinescopes, small- and unusual-gauge films, amateur productions, surveillance footage, test reels, government films, advertisements, sponsored films, student works, and sundry other ephemeral pieces of celluloid (or paper or glass or tape or . . . ).
The Orphan Film Symposium’s Dan Streible has selected some fascinating orphan footage that the San Francisco Silent Film Festival will be screening before selected programs throughout this year's event. Newsreels, fragments of lost silent films, you never know what you'll see - and chances are, you won't have seen it before!