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Thursday, September 8, 2011

Preservation of the Jorge Prelorán Collection

As part of an ongoing effort to safeguard the work of Argentine filmmaker Jorge Prelorán, several films are being preserved at specialized film labs.  Preservation work on three ethnographic films - Casabindo, Iruya, and La Iglesia de Yavi - was recently completed by Film Technology Company, thanks in part to a grant from the Smithsonian Latino Center.  These films document culture and religion in rural northwestern Argentina, capturing a vibrant mix of indigenous traditions and Spanish colonial influences.

Two of Prelorán's films -- the classic Imaginero and the experimental short Claudia -- will be screened later this month at the University of Maryland, College Park.  The screening will be held at 5pm on Friday, September 30 and is free and open to the public.  It has been organized by the university's Graduate Field Committee in Film Studies; visit their website for details. I will be present to introduce the films and give an overview of the Prelorán Collection. It's an exciting screening for me because it will be the first showing of the newly-preserved and very delightful Claudia (film buffs please note that we will screen from video rather than 16mm, but I promise it will look beautiful all the same).

Imaginero was preserved by HSFA last year with support from the Smithsonian Latino Center.  Preservation of Claudia was made possible by the National Film Preservation Foundation.

As each film is preserved, the new 16mm preservation internegative and optical track will go into freezing storage, and selections from the new video copies will be digitized for online access.  Below is a clip from Iruya, which documents the village's 1966 celebrations in honor of its patroness, Our Lady of the Rosary. The clip shows some of the festivities and features Spanish-language narration from one of the participants.

La Iglesia de Yavi documents religious activities, as well, but the film also takes time to explore the extraordinary church itself.  This clip features Spanish-language narration by the church's caretaker. (Many of Prelorán's films have English-language versions. These two, unfortunately, do not, but we hope it may be possible to create versions with English subtitles in the future.)

For more information on Prelorán's films and a more detailed description of the process of film-to-film preservation, please visit the HSFA's web exhibit on the Prelorán Collection and read an earlier post on the successful preservation of Hermógenes Cayo (Imaginero).

Karma Foley, Human Studies Film Archives

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