UCSB’s Carsey-Wolf Center will screen the 1950’s crime and drama film “The Hoodlum” tonight at 7 p.m. in the Pollock Theater as part of “The Future of the Past: The Art and Philosophy of Film Preservation,” a five-film series that explores the growth of new digital technologies for preserving and restoring analog and digital media.

The series kicked off with its first film, “Metropolis” on Jan. 15 and will continue with “Sparrows” on Feb. 10, “Lawrence of Arabia” on Feb. 26 and “Wild River” on March 12.

According to Film & Media Studies assistant professor Ross Melnick, the series demonstrates the department’s focus on moving image archive studies. Melnick said the events offer an opportunity for the public to become acquainted with film restoration and the ethical and technical challenges of the field by showing newly restored films.

“‘The Future of the Past’ coincides with a graduate course on moving image archive theory, industry and practice,” Melnick said. “This series is intended to examine many of the issues raised in the course and provide an overview of the past. Restoration, duplication, access and distribution will also be highlighted during the series [as well as] the present and future of moving image preservation and restoration; conventional discussions of the art, philosophy, ethics and practices of preservation and restoration and the use of digital processes.”

The series was organized by Melnick, Richard Hutton, Executive Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center and adjunct professor in the Film & Media Studies Dept., LeeAnne French, Associate Director of the Carsey-Wolf Center and Yongli Li, East Asian Language and Cultural Studies Ph.D. student and graduate student assistant at the Carsey-Wolf Center.

According to Melnick, the group went through a lengthy and selective procedure to pick films that would best portray the various aspects of the film preservation and restoration field, including different periods of film history. The films, some in black-and-white and some in color, were originally released between 1920 and 1960.

Melnick said that these films deserve to be seen in theaters in order to be experienced in their full intensity.

“I’d like audiences to experience these films in a theater and not on DVD or Blu-ray,” Melnick said. “I think ‘The Hoodlum,’ ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ and ‘Wild River’ may be the key highlights in part because of our guests. For most of these titles — and none more so than ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ — seeing them in a theater is an unparalleled experience that you cannot get at home or on your laptop. They should be seen in theaters, as their directors and restorers intended.”

Film archivists and restorationists from major institutions and Hollywood companies will guest speak during the events and present the movies, talk about their own respective film backgrounds and discuss works in their archives.

Jan-Christopher Horak, Director of the UCLA Film and TV Archive, will present tonight’s screening of “The Hoodlum.” “Sparrows” will be introduced by film historian Christel Schmidt, editor of Mary Pickford: Queen of the Movies, and will include a special live piano accompaniment, post-event reception and book signing. Grover Crisp, Executive Vice President of Asset Management, Film Restoration and Digital Mastering at Sony Pictures Entertainment, will present “Lawrence of Arabia” and Michael Pogorzelski, Director of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Archive, will present “Wild River.”

According to Li, the films carry a level of significance to the cultural, historical and technical aspects within cinematic arts.

“These films are important on many levels. Some of them, like ‘Metropolis’ and ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ are world famous and historically important films,” Li said. “Each film in the series also raises different aesthetic and technical questions about film preservation and restoration.”

Fourth-year film & media studies major Ashley Rose said the films are important to store and restore in order to show people now and in the future landmark films from the past.

“I think the topic of preservation is very important,” Rose said. “Preserving films is a great way to not only experiencing classic films, but also a great way to look at what was going on in history at that time.”

Tickets range from $5 to $10 for students and $5 to $20 for non-students.


A version of this article appeared on page 3 of January 22nd, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.