Episode 7: Millie De Chirico- Comin’ Up With That Weird Stuff! Exhibition as access, women in programming spaces, & the joy of TCMFF

This week is TCMFF, which in laymen’s terms means Turner Classic Movie Film Fest.

IT’S THE HAPPIEST TIME OF THE YEAR. LIKE FOR REELZ.

Well, at least it’s my happiest time. It’s what I affectionately call “Classic Film Summer Camp.” Even if it doesn’t happen during the summer time.

So in order to celebrate this wonderful and exciting event, I got one of the women that I love and admire in a massive way to be on this week’s episode.

Her name is Millie De Chirico and she continues to be one of the most amazing and dynamic forces at TCM.

This is her bio:

Millie De Chirico is 14-year member of the programming department at Turner Classic Movies. She co-created TCM Underground, the channel’s late night cult movie franchise and now lends her programming expertise to FilmStruck, the new streaming service created by TCM and the Criterion Collection. In her spare time she co-hosts a podcast with comedian April Richardson called Sordid Details (sordidpodcast.com).

TCM Underground, if you are not aware, is a masterpiece and an accomplishment unto itself, let alone the gazillions of other things that Millie does daily.

One of the big myths in the film world is that “the ladies” can’t stomach grindhouse films or that we just don’t like that sexploitation/exploitation morally messy media. It goes without saying that there is a certain unspoken idea that most fans of the genre would not be queer or POC either. But we exist. Millie’s dedication to TCM Underground and her passion for this landscape is important on many levels. If you listen to our conversation we discuss this.  This has led to her programming the midnight movies at the TCMFF which is nothing but brilliant.

I CANNOT WAIT FOR THIS YEAR’S FESTIVAL!

We talk about a lot of things in this episode. One of the things that we get super Real Deal about is the state of film exhibition and the theater scene. The last few years has seen some upheaval but it’s gotten a little quiet.  Like everyone thinks what happened at Cinefamily, Fantastic Fest, etc, was a one-off and that we can all go forward as things were, la la la la.
But we (being marginalized folx) weren’t happy before the Dude-programmer-pocalpyse and we certainly aren’t pleased now. And the situation is pretty easy to fix. Really. It is. We talk about that here too.

I’m not gonna lie: this is a GREAT EPISODE. But it was great because Millie is a damn ROCKSTAR. 

So here’s the million dollar answer, of course. You want to know what Millie’s top pics for TCMFF are and (maybe) mine. So, look below! They do not disappoint. And if you’re going to TCMFF, hope to see you there. Say hello!

Millie De Chirico’s 2018 TCMFF Recommendations

WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER (1962, d. Timothy Carey, 82m, Digital) (duh!)
A STAR IS BORN (1937, d. William A. Wellman, 35mm) on nitrate
FINISHING SCHOOL (1934, d. George Nichols, Jr. and Wanda Tuchock, 35 mm)**Preserved by the Library of Congress.
OUTRAGE (1950, d. Ida Lupino, 35mm) Ida!
WILL SUCCESS SPOIL ROCK HUNTER (1957, d. Frank Tashlin, Digital) Jayne!

My list is a little different. These are some of the films that I will probably end up going to. But these are also ones that I am VERY EXCITED ABOUT!!

In no particular order….

FINISHING SCHOOL (1934, d. George Nichols, Jr. and Wanda Tuchock, 35 mm) **Preserved by the Library of Congress.
WORLD’S GREATEST SINNER (1962, d. Timothy Carey, 82m, Digital)
STAGE DOOR (1937, d. Gregory La Cava, 35mm) nitrate & has a Bill Morrison short called The Letter playing before it!!!! YES!!
HATFUL OF RAIN (1957, d. Fred Zinnemann, Digital)
A LETTER TO THREE WIVES (1949, d. Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Digital)
WHEN YOU READ THIS LETTER (1953, d. Jean-Pierre Melville, Digital)
Panel Discussion- Through a Lens of Color: Black Representation in Film featuring: Gil Robertson IV, of the African American Film Critics Association, Professor Jacqueline Stewart, filmmaker Mario Van Peebles and moderated by Donald Bogle.
GIRLS ABOUT TOWN (1931, d. George Cukor, 35mm)
Hollywood Home Movies: Treasures from the Academy Archive
The Academy Film Archive shares gems from its collection with specially-selected home movies from Hollywood’s Golden Age, Presented by Randy Haberkamp, Managing Director of Preservation and Foundation Programs for AMPAS, and Lynne Kirste, Special Collections Curator at the Archive.
WOMAN OF THE YEAR (1942, d. George Stevens, Digital)

Episode 6: Erica Lopez- Mexican American Home Movies, Being “Seen,” and Gauging Class in Amateur Films

The best thing to come out of the last election was that I met Erica Lopez.

As you’ll learn about in the first few minutes of this week’s episode, we met at the AMIA conference in Pittsburgh, PA. It was November of 2016.


 

 

The sad thing was that the actual conference was amazing. Some of the best panels I’ve ever experienced at AMIA. But we were all so goddamn numb because of the election results that we were somewhere between zombie, “Is this real life?” and wanting to go to sleep forever or the next 4 years (whichever came first).

But I met Erica Lopez and her badass partner-in-archivey-action Caroline Oliveira and I was so thrilled. These women were my kinda ladies!!!!! These women were still students and considerably younger than me but I was so excited to find women who were just as passionate about the field as I was in a positive and pro-active way!

Obviously I kept in touch with both women.

Erica got in touch with me earlier this year and told me what her thesis was going to be about and I was floored. Her title, as presented at the end of March, is Mi Voz: Latin@ Self-Representation in Home Moviesand this was the description that was posted in the schedule for NYU MIAP thesis presentations. “The portrayal of Latin@s in the media has been constructed by stereotypes that attempt to suppress their voice. This thesis will focus on home movies of Latin@s, primarily on Mexican-American/ Xican@ communities. These movies challenge, threaten and question stereotypes of  Latin@s because these are images of self-representation. This thesis will look at different collections of home movies, specifically looking at the content, film format, the year they were shot and the year they were acquired in a cultural institution. The thesis will also consider how this community is represented in metadata since Mexican-American, Latin@, Hispan@, and Xican@ are labels that connote problematic issues. The thesis will end with a case study on The Fuentes Collection of home movies, which has been added to the National Film Registry’s list. After giving an historical background of the Fuentes family, I will discuss how they represent life in a border-town-space.”

I genuinely love home movies but let’s get real: the ones that most people see and the stereotype of the “Home Movie” is pretty damn white.

Home Movies are not white. Looking at those in the US, they are African American. They are Japanese American. They are Mexican American. They are Italian American. They are Pilipino American. So why do we just imagine blond babies toddling by the Christmas tree while Dad drinks a beer when we consider the “home movie”?

Erica Lopez is subverting the dominant paradigm by saying: I’m looking at Mexican Home Movies, movies that people have been ignoring. Films that have been sitting there because they are of people of color, cultures who have systematically disparaged and considered “less than” by a structure that still requires fixing. Erica Lopez is a critical scholar in this area. She did exactly what archival professionals are supposed to do: she saw a void in our field and said, “Oh hell no. I’m gonna fix that!”

Full disclosure: Erica is one of my best friends. So of course I’m going to say amazing things about her. But I wouldn’t go out of my way to praise her scholarship or social justice passion if it wasn’t present. That would not fit my ethical guidelines for myself and how I live my life.

I invite you to listen to this podcast that I did with a woman who continues to impress me the longer I know her. I think you’ll enjoy it.

I know we enjoyed doing it.

Erica’s Bio:

My name is Erica Gloria López. I am a graduate student at NYU Moving Image and Archiving Preservation program. I’ll be graduating this May, hopefully, so the pressure is on to join the ‘professional’ world is scary, for many reasons, and obvious ones. Growing up in a Mexican family, living in America, was an experience that with time and experiences, has influenced my life. I never thought I would be an archivist, let alone, ever imagined finishing school at my age, 35, since I did not go to college after High School. I was too busy going to punk shows and dancing to 80s music in Downtown LA. But, for some odd reason, I stumbled across this program. It’s been one of my biggest life challenges, and the most rewarding.

Check out The Fuentes Collection:  http://www.texasarchive.org/library/index.php/Category:The_Fuentes_Collection

 

Episode 5: Elena Colón-Marrero, Digital Preservation, Forensics and Creating Your Own Field

 

Every episode of this podcast gets more exciting to me but I think having this conversation with Elena was deeply personal in a way that I never expected it to be. We’ve been Twitter pals for some time and I knew that she worked with Jarrett Drake so she already had major bonafides there. But I’m always really nervous when I go to talk to people about digital preservation because I’m still learning SO MUCH.

In my last job, they thought I knew a LOT more than I did about digital materials. I told them I didn’t at the very beginning but they didn’t seem to get it? It was a disaster. So I get really nervous about the idea of what I do/don’t know and how that comes across. Part of the reason I started Archivist’s Alley was to help myself better understand some of the things that I don’t completely “get” in the areas of preservation that I know BRAINBURSTINGLY INCREDIBLE people in.

Elena went beyond what I ever would have expected or thought. The work that she is doing and how she is going about it is revolutionary and our conversation left me jumping up and down and super excited. I hope that you get that from this.

One of the most (if not THE most) difficult things to do in preservation is to discover a void or area that has not been worked on/with and then go for it. This is what Elena Colón-Marrero is doing. When you have little to no research or previous work to assist you, it can be the hardest thing in the world and LONELY AS HELL. But it’s also super freeing because it means YOU are the one to develop the field. Period.

I can’t say that I’ve had that experience with something as complex as digital preservation but I MOST CERTAINLY have had the experience of wanting to do less traditional preservation work than your average bear. My entire career has been spent searching for those voids in our field. It’s very exciting work but GOOD GRIEF. It’s exhausting and frustrating and sometimes you feel like you’ve got 2 strikes against you at all times. It is an exceptionally tough road to travel down. But it’s so worth it.

Clearly, Elena knew what formats she was going to work with from the VERY start.

I feel extremely lucky to have been able to have this conversation about digital forensics, preservation, personal identity and the incredible work that this woman is doing.

Speaking of work, let me link you to some of her brilliance!

A short bio:

Elena Colón-Marrero is responsible for processing and reading the Museum’s digital collection with an emphasis on historic software objects. Colón-Marrero has a Master’s of Science in Information from the University of Michigan and B.A. in history from Christopher Newport University. Prior to joining the Museum, Elena was the 2015 John Foster and Janet Avery Dulles Archival Fellow for Princeton University’s Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library.

Some of her written work:

Also, here is a link to the 2017 Core Magazine. On page 17 (pdf pg 19) you will find a great article entitled, “Preserving Software with Digital Forensics” that Elena wrote, highlighting her work at the Computer History Musuem. Check it out here:
Finally, here is the website for the ultra fabulous Computer History Museum! Go! Visit! Check it out! Tweet about it and join their social media pages!!

http://www.computerhistory.org/

The Children ARE The Future

Hey fam.

Today I looked at pictures of people marching all across the country supporting kids. With posters, talking about gun violence, discussing (essentially) children/youth rights. The right to exist. And I saw (and have seen a lot of people so amazed that young people can be “so eloquent” and “so together” and “so activist.”

It’s awfully condescending. I hate to bring David Bowie into this but I don’t hate to bring David Bowie into this. He wrote the lyrics to “Changes,” the song quoted at the beginning of John Hughes’ 1985 film, The Breakfast Club, in 1972.  Read again what Bowie wrote:

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re goin’ through,

I was a child activist. I did HIV/AIDS education throughout my teen years. Everyone thought I was SO AMAZING. I didn’t feel amazing. I felt like people I knew were dying. I felt like when I got to high school, and my friends (or myself) were going to become sexually active, death was going to be part of the equation if I didn’t do something about it before I got there. There wasn’t an option for me.

Children aren’t stupid. These marches are great, please don’t stop them, the kids are the CENTER OF THEM! But the way that everyone is treating these highly smart, HIGHLY NORMAL, teenagers is fucking infuriating. I was doing marching and activism in the 1990s and my mom was getting lauded for having such a “bright and socially aware” daughter. And I’m not saying that I’m not an awesome smartypants. I am an awesome smartypants. But there were plenty of other teens who were doing it by my side. I was part of a group of teens who went and spoke in schools to other teens about how to prevent each other from getting infected.

Through the years, I’ve ALWAYS known children and young adults like this. Getting shot should not be a catalyst for change anymore than getting raped or harassed should be the force to make large organizations stand up and say, “Oh shit-we need to do something!”

Children and young adults should ALWAYS be listened to and they very rarely are. Because they have hormones or they are emotional or they are going through the really sucky fucked up issues of growing up. But fam- listen to your kids. Listen to your friends’ kids. At all ages. And don’t be shocked or surprised or OMGWTFBBQ when they spout Real Knowledge and Truth. They see everything much clearer than “Adults” do. The passions are real with them.

Now all of you: go listen to Whitney Houston sing “Greatest Love of All” UNIRONICALLY. This is your homework for today.

Episode 4: Echo Park Film Center- Community, Culture & Creativity!

I have no qualms about saying that I am 100% in favor of the Echo Park Film Center in every which way possible.

Paolo and Lisa are two of the most amazing people I know.

It’s hard to really put into words how much I love them and the Echo Park Film Center because I would probably end up going on forever and then you would never listen to the episode and I think I want the episode (and them) to speak for themselves.

In 2018 Los Angeles, it is exceptionally difficult to create a space where community and joy in learning is the primary goal. But Paolo and Lisa have done this thing. Their staff is beyond amazing. The entirety of the Echo Park Film Center is magical.

It is a place that, in this day and age, somehow continues to exist and that gives me so much hope. Lisa and Paolo give me hope. They teach children, teenagers, old folx. Their client base is so varied it would (and should) make your head spin.

If you are not local to LA but you get here every so often….make a bee line to EPFC.

If you live here and have never been, OMFG, GO!!!

Thanks again, Lisa & Paolo, for doing this episode. You always make me feel like a million bucks when I am in your presence!

Lisa Marr and Paolo Davanzo are filmmakers, media arts educators, and community cinema activists whose work is a catalyst for creative collaboration and positive social change. Originally from Canada and Italy respectively, they currently work and live in Los Angeles, where they help run the Echo Park Film Center, a non-profit community media space that has been providing equal, affordable access to film/video education and resources since 2001. In 2008, they launched the EPFC Filmmobile, an old school bus transformed into an eco-friendly cinema and film school on wheels. As The Here & Now, Marr and Davanzo travel the world, making and sharing handmade films and music with everybody.