Yale-restored films to be screened in New York City festival

Two recently restored works by an innovative filmmaker and animator — along with related treasures from the Yale Film Study Center vault — will be shown on the big screen in the Big Apple this month.

The three-day program, “Passages from the Yale Archive: The Films of Ted Nemeth and Mary Ellen Bute,” will take place Dec. 10-12 at Anthology Film Archives in New York City.

Nemeth, who began his career in commercial advertising and documentaries, transitioned into experimental film as a cinematograher on Bute’s groundbreaking abstract animations from the 1930s to the 1950s. The two funded their films through Nemeth’s work on television (with Perry Como, Steve Allen and “Sesame Street”) as well as on other enterprises such as Jim Henson’s Academy Award-nominated “Time Piece” (1965).

The Film Study Center’s manager, Ann Horton-Line, received grants from the National Film Preservation Foundation to restore the 35mm masters of two of the team’s films, “The Boy Who Saw Through” and “Passages from ‘Finnegan’s Wake.’” Matching funds for the grant to restore the latter were contributed by Paul Joskow (‘70 M.Phil.,’72 Ph.D.), president of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and a member of the Yale Corporation. His daughter Suzanne Joskow ‘05 B.A. worked at the Film Study Center for three years.

It was the restoration of those films that inspired the Anthology Film Archives to present this retrospective. In addition to “The Boy Who Saw Through,” “Passages from ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ ” and animated shorts by Nemeth and Bute, the program includes “Ginger Rogers; Eggs; Wheels; 12 Rocks,” featuring sequences of the dancer with Perry Como, Henson’s Oscar-nominated “Time Piece” and never-before-seen excerpts from “Out of the Cradle, Endlessly Rocking: Passages from the Odyssey of Walt Whitman,” a project that was cut short by Bute’s death in 1983.

“The eclecticism of Ted Nemeth’s work is evidenced by the fact that this may be the only time Ginger Rogers, Jim Henson and James Joyce are mentioned in the same sentence,” says Michael Kerbel, director of the Film Study Center, describing “Passages from ‘Finnegan’s Wake’ ” as “the first and arguably best, visualization” of the work by the Irish author.

All of the films from the Yale archive presented in the Anthology series are part of an extensive collection of Bute-Nemeth films and papers donated by the filmmakers’ family following Bute’s death. The collection includes picture and sound elements as well as scripts and other documents for two unfinished films.

For more information about the series, visit http://anthologyfilmarchives.org.

The Film Study Center, part of the Yale ITS organization, is committed to the preservation of, and access to, resources for the scholarly study and appreciation of cinema. Activities include managing a continually expanding collection of films in most celluloid, video and digital formats. The Film Study Center also facilitates exhibitions of films in state-of-the-art screening facilities on the Yale campus.

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