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JIC Post:Christopher Curtis, Gay.com/PlanetOut.com NetworkThe University of California at Los Angeles has teamed up with Outfest to create and preserve the world's largest publicly accessible archive of LGBT movies.The project, dubbed the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation, seeks to bridge a gap left by mainstream film preservationists who have overlooked LGBT content."The creation of the largest collection of media materials of this kind is important not only for scholars, researchers, filmmakers and historians worldwide, but also for the broader society," said Franklin Gilliam of UCLA Centre for Community Partnerships, which funds the initiative.Outfest, which hosts one of the most high-profile annual LGBT film festivals, will identify and prioritise preservation and restoration activities, as well as raise the necessary funds.The UCLA Film and Television Archive, which is second only to the Library of Congress for collecting media materials, will perform the preservation and restoration work as well as handle storage.LGBT independent films from the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s are in jeopardy because of a perceived lack of commercial value by the industry."Whenever Outfest programs a revival screening, we brace ourselves for a print on its very last legs because there's no real money to be made from a new print, or the elements are lost, or the filmmaker has died," said Stephen Gutwillig, the group's executive director.According to the organisation, some significant LGBT movies do not have a viable archive or exhibition print available. These works include Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman's Academy Award-winning AIDS quilt documentary "Common Threads" (1989); Bill Sherwood's trailblazing AIDS-themed romantic comedy "Parting Glances" (1986), featuring Steve Buscemi's first starring role; and "Before Stonewall" (1984), John Scagliotti and Greta Schiller's landmark documentary chronicling the early history of the gay and lesbian civil rights movement."These films represent our community's cultural legacy, and we refuse to be complicit in the erasure of our own history. This is why the creation of the Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation is so crucial ... and so welcome," Gutwillig added.The first phase of the project includes transferring Outfest's existing library of preview tapes to the UCLA archive. Many of the films will be digitised so the public will have access to them.The second phase will include establishing a collection of archive-quality 16-millimeter and 35-millimeter prints at the UCLA archive. The Legacy Project will also ask filmmakers, collectors and distributors for help."Having a centralised location for the study of these films at UCLA will foster the critical and historical study of LGBT struggles at a time when they have assumed an ever-larger role in American culture," said UCLA Film and Television Archive Director Timothy Kittleson.
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