A Sad Farewell To Historian David Shepard

Yesterday evening, January 31st, brought some sad news–the great historian and film preservationist David Shepard had passed away.

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This is a huge loss to anyone who loves silents and supports film preservation. Shepard is responsible for the restorations of Intolerance, The Navigator, Man With a Movie Camera, The Gold Rush, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, The Cheat, and countless others. To say that we owe him one is an understatement.

Shepard worked at Blackhawk Films in the 1960s (and bought the company in 1987), became a preservationist at the American Film Institute, and eventually started his own company, Film Preservation Associates. He’s worked with Kino, Flicker Alley, many film festivals, and has won awards for his tireless work. He has been both a huge help and huge inspiration to countless historians. In some of their own words:

“David was an extraordinary individual. I do not think it hyperbole to state that he significantly inspired most of our current film historians and archivists, and his countless works have been viewed and loved by nearly every serious classic film fan.”

“A Giant in the Film Preservation world has taken his leave from us this evening. A friend to so many of us, his legacy is large and immeasurable.”

“There was no better advocate for restoring classic films and making them available to modern audiences. I pray that David is chatting with many of the film greats in heaven today.”

“He leaves behind one heck of a legacy, as well as an influence on all of us who follow in his footsteps.”

Shepard had been suffering from an inoperable cancer, and passed away with his family, friends, and beloved dog at his side. He will be greatly missed.

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So Long, 2016: The Silent Community Year In Review

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Happy New Year’s, everyone! With only a few hours left of 2016, it’s time for Silent-ology’s annual roundup of silent film-related news from the past 12 months. I try to make these posts fairly thorough, but let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to add!

Without further ado: Continue reading

How Do Silent Films Become “Lost”?

Ah, movies! We see them on T.V., play them on DVDs and watch them on Netflix and YouTube. We rave about them, argue about them and sprinkle our social media with photos and GIFs from them. Some of us, hopefully, even see movies in a theater.

You know, that place you have to drive to.

With movies practically coming out of our ears, it’s bizarre to hear that the vast majority of silent era films are lost. This doesn’t seem to make sense–how the heck can a film be “lost”? Why, it’s just kind of there, on the screen. It’s not is the same kind of object as a painting or a book…right? Continue reading