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US Screening: Lost American Films Found in NZ

Lost American Films Found in New Zealand, April, 2014

From Connie Lawn

Some classic, silent American films were preserved by collectors in New Zealand. Thanks to their frugality and sense of history, the films can be seen by the world. I attended a recent viewing at the Motion Picture Association of America studio in Washington DC. The film was a 1927 picture, directed by John Ford. A live pianist and violinist were in the theater and there were subtitles. We soon forgot there was no vocal dialogue.

There are other silent films saved by New Zealand, including one of the first films directed by Alfred Hitchcock. MPAA Chairman Chris Dodd said early film distributors around the world were directed to return the films or destroy them. Fortunately, he said, NZ distributors kept and preserved theirs. He said this made them among the first film pirates! He also praised NZ’s “vibrant film industry” and estimated it gives jobs to about 30,000 people.

The showing and reception were sponsored by the NZ Embassy in Washington, DC. It’s Ambassador, Mike Moore, said his country’s distance and isolation “made it a safe haven for films.”

As they say in New Zealand and Australia, “Good On Ya Mate!”

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