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Thoughts about the Nitrate Picture Show at the George Eastman Museum (festival of VERY old movies) (1 Viewer)

Dennis Gallagher

Stunt Coordinator
Jan 22, 2003
Real Name
Dennis T. Gallagher
I don't really know where to post this, but I figure I'd try here as
it's the place I typically hang out on this forum and think there might
be a few who could offer comments about my thoughts.

I've just returned from my fourth visit to the Nitrate Picture
Show at the George Eastman Museum in Rochester, New York - a festival
where all that's shown are prints on nitrate film stock and, as such,
older than 1950 or thereabouts. Nothing that's shown is announced until
the first day of the festival and the final film shown - the "Blind
Date With Nitrate" isn't known until its title (or some other identifying
component) appears on the screen. I got to see a lot I haven't seen
before, and in general it's a most wonderful event as I got to hang out
with fellow generally like minded old movie and film preservation geeks.

Though I plan to return next year as I enjoy the event and wish to "support the cause"
I find myself somewhat unsettled about what I've seen as I realize
much looks far better on blu-ray. There's much discussion throughout the
fest about what's projectible, and many technical notes about things such
as print shrinkage and the number of splices in the various prints shown.
(A couple had pretty nasty damage at the reel changes (all films shown with dual
projectors of course, and the projectionists noted and profusely congratulated
for their efforts) and the shrinkage often required that a fair amount of
focus adjustments be made.

I'm incredibly glad that archives and collectors finally maintain prints and negatives
safely so that they might be shown to future generations and be used as sources
for immaculate restorations with the wonderful digital tools we now have.

I'm not a "true believer" who thinks that nitrate prints always look better as
I'm also not one who thinks 70mm always looks better (I found the print of
"South Pacific" shown at the AFI Silver pretty dim and the Blu-Ray version better).

Anyway - after I've said all this (and I could of course say much more) - did anyone
else attend this event and have any thoughts about it - or about seeing a film
on an archival print vs. video?

(I address these comments of course to one on this forum who's provided me with
a few of my most wonderful film going experiences.)

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