News

Vinegar Syndrome to Release “Liquid Sky” Cult Film on April 24

One of the most memorable portraits of Manhattan’s 1980s New Wave subculture, Liquid Sky (Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $32.98) is being released by Vinegar Syndrome on April 24. Director Slava Tsukerman’s iconic underground 1982 sci-fi cult film had an indelible impact on pop culture, film, music, and fashion. Starring Anne Carlisle in a dual role as promiscuous, erotic, and bisexual fashion model Margaret and her gay rival and nemesis, the androgynous Jimmy, the indie film is seen as heavily influencing the club scene known as “electroclash,” which emerged in the early 2000s in New York, Berlin, Paris, and London. Extensive bonus features include audio commentary by Tsukerman, interviews with Tsukerman and Carlisle, outtakes, rehearsal footage, and an alternate opening sequence.

“Bill Nye: Science Guy” Slated for April 24 from PBS Distribution

PBS Distribution has announced the upcoming release of their latest POV title, Bill Nye: Science Guy (DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99), slated for April 24. Once the host of a popular kids’ show and now the CEO of the Planetary Society, Bill Nye is leading a mission to launch LightSail, a satellite propelled by sunlight, while in turn fulfilling the legacy of his late professor and Planetary Society co-founder Carl Sagan. The film serves up a behind-the-scenes portrait of the “Science Guy,” who continues to inspire millennials to participate in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). In addition to Nye, the documentary features Neil deGrasse Tyson, Ann Druyan, and other notable voices in the field. Nye and his team are working toward the first-ever successful launch and flight of a solar sailing satellite propelled by sunlight in space. The film also offers a personal portrait of Nye’s life.

“Mabel, Mabel Tiger Trainer” Doc Available April 10 from Cinema Libre

Director Leslie Zemeckis brings to the screen the life of an unheralded female pioneer, Mabel Stark, the world’s first female tiger trainer, in the documentary Mabel, Mabel, Tiger Trainer (DVD: $19.95), slated for April 10 from Cinema Libre Studio. Mabel Stark first started working with tigers in 1916 and—over a 57-year career—would handle up to 22 tigers at once. She doubled for Mae West during the big top scenes in I’m No Angel (1933) and performed with or provided animals for several other films of the era. When the circuses divested from big cat acts in the ‘40s, Stark toured in Europe and Japan before joining Jungleland, a wild animal theme park in Thousand Oaks, CA, where she performed daily well into her 70s. Narrated by Melissa Leo, the film combines radio and TV interviews, archival footage and images, and interviews with circus historian Janet M. Davis,Clyde Beatty, Jr. (son of the famous tiger trainer, Clyde Beatty), and Zoltan Hargitay (son of Jayne Mansfield), who was mauled by a lion at Jungleland. Bonus features include additional tiger training footage, and a behind-the-scenes featurette with Zemeckis.

Oscar Winners on Video

A large number of the winners at the 90th Academy Awards are either currently available on home video or slated for release soon. The big winner in a contest that saw no wide sweeps was Guillermo del Toro’s The Shape of Water (Fox, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99, Mar. 13), which picked up awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Original Score, and Production Design. Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (Fox, DVD: $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.99, avail. now) scored wins for Frances McDormand for Best Actress and Sam Rockwell for Best Supporting Actor. Best Actor went to Gary Oldman for Darkest Hour (Universal, DVD: $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $34.98, avail. now), which also won for Makeup and Hairstyling, while Allison Janney won Best Supporting Actress for I, Tonya (Universal, DVD: $19.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $22.99, Mar. 13). Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk (Warner, DVD: $28.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $35.99, avail. now) snagged three technical awards—for Film Editing, Sound Editing, and Sound Mixing, while Blade Runner 2049 (Warner, DVD: $28.95, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $35.99, avail. now) scored for Cinematography. On the writing side, Call Me By Your Name (Sony, DVD: $25.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $30.99, Mar. 13) won for Best Adapted Screenplay, and Get Out (Universal, DVD: $19.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $22.98, avail. now) took home the gold for Best Original Screenplay. Phantom Thread (Universal, DVD: $29.98, Blu-ray: $34.98, Apr. 10 ) won for Costume Design. Coco (Disney, DVD: $29.99, Blu-ray/DVD Combo: $39.99, avail. now) was a winner for both Best Animated Film and Best Song (“Remember Me”). Finally, Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (Grasshopper Film, DVD: $325, http://store.grasshopperfilm.com/heaven-is-a-traffic-jam-on-the-405.html), which won for Documentary (Short Subject), is currently available for institutions.

National Media Market to Manage Preservation Cooperative to Address Videotape Crisis in Academic Libraries

National Media Market and Conference (NMM) has announced the formation of the Academic Libraries Video Trust, a cooperative open to interested institutions, to facilitate preservation of commercial video content (primarily VHS) which is no longer in distribution. The Trust will leverage preservation and replacement exceptions for reproduction by libraries established by U.S. copyright law (17 U.S. Code § 108) that allow for duplication of content that is damaged, deteriorating, lost, or stolen, or is in an obsolete format. The Trust is expected to become fully operational by late 2018, thanks to a $10,000.00 gift by recently retired librarian deg farrelly.

“The opportunity to help create this new organization and serve libraries that value media collections is very important to me,” said farrelly, a Librarian Emeritus at Arizona State University in Tempe, AZ, who prefers his distinctive name spelled without the customary capital letters. “The Academic Libraries Video Trust will provide a service to benefit many institutions, especially research libraries. It’s a natural extension of the work I’ve been performing for four decades, to strengthen the usefulness and legitimacy of film and video as a tool in teaching and research across all disciplines.”

Section 108 is a topic explored extensively by farrelly and colleagues Chris Lewis, Media Librarian at American University, Washington, D.C., and Jane Hutchinson, former Associate Director of Media Services at William Paterson University Library, in Paterson, N.J. The trio created an online database called The Section 108 Due Diligence Project (http://section108video.com/) and documented search efforts for thousands of titles no longer available for purchase or licensing. Maintenance of the site and creation of secure technology will become the responsibility of the Trust, administered under the auspices of National Media Market and Conference.

Former NMM Chair Sarah McCleskey, Head of Resource & Collection Services at Hofstra University, is facilitating development of the Trust along with Chris Lewis. “Based on research performed by deg and other prominent media professionals, it’s estimated that U.S. academic libraries alone have thousands of VHS titles which are rapidly degrading,” said McCleskey. “It’s a matter of preservation — libraries that have spent significant funds collecting video need to protect their investments and fulfill their mandate to preserve this content.” According to Lewis, “The Trust has been created because the VHS format, which was once massively popular, is now obsolete, and much of the content borne on videotape has never been rereleased. No one makes VHS players anymore, and regularly-circulated tapes and players quickly degrade to the point of being unusable. The benign neglect that resulted in the loss of thousands of early motion pictures and early television recordings will happen with VHS recordings unless libraries undertake major preservation projects to protect them.”

“The intent of Section 108, and of the Academic Libraries Video Trust, is clearly not to sidestep any legitimate commercial interest,” states Kenneth Crews of Gipson Hoffman & Pancione in Los Angeles, the attorney retained by NMM for legal counsel regarding the Trust, “but to help support replacement and preservation copying after checking the market. The institutions that become members of the Academic Libraries Video Trust won’t be purchasing anything through the organization, but replacing a copy of a work they’ve already acquired consistent with copyright law.” “In fact,” adds farrelly, “the purpose of the Section 108 Due Diligence Project website has been to make widely available a list of titles for which librarians want to find replacements, and can’t. It can be viewed by rights holders as well as librarians.”

Member institutions will confirm that their use of any materials archived by the Trust will be in compliance with Section 108.

The Trust is currently inviting libraries and archives to become founding institutional members. Interested parties are encouraged to contact Jeff Tamblyn, Chair of the National Media Market and Conference (chair@nmm.net), for further information.

Relevant sites :

National Media Market https://www.nmm.net/

Section 108 Due Diligence Project http://section108video.com/

Cornell Law School Section 108 webpage https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/17/108

 

Photo caption: deg farrelly (right) makes a major donation to kickstart NMM’s new service initiative. Accepting is NMM Chair Jeff Tamblyn.

2018 ALA-VRT Notable Videos for Adults

The American Library Association (ALA) Video Round Table Notable Videos for Adults Committee has compiled its 2018 list of Notable Videos for Adults, 15 outstanding films released on video within the past two years and suitable for all libraries serving adults.

 

Here is the complete list:

 

Abacus, Small Enough to Jail (2017, dir. Steve James). 89 minutes. PBS. DVD. Available from various distributors. Subtitles.

This Oscar-nominated documentary tells the story of the Chinese immigrant Sung Family, owners of Abacus Federal Savings of Chinatown, New York, the only U.S. bank prosecuted in relation to the 2008 financial crisis.

 

Awake, A Dream from Standing Rock (2017, dir. Myron Dewey, Josh Fox and James Spione). 84 minutes. International WOW Co. DVD. Available from Bullfrog Films (http://www.bullfrogfilms.com/catalog/awake.html) and various distributors.

The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, along with 500 other tribes and allies, lead a peaceful resistance against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline on their sacred ground.

 

David Lynch: The Art Life (2016, dir. Olivia Neergaard-Holm, Rick Barnes and John Nguyen). 88 minutes. Criterion Collection. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. SDH. Takes viewers on a rare look inside the art studio of David Lynch as Lynch recounts the people and events that led him to his life as an artist.

 

 

Dawson City: Frozen Time (2016, dir. Bill Morrison). 120 minutes. Kino Lorber. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. CC.

After hundreds of silent films are uncovered in a Yukon, Canada gold rush town, its history is pieced together through the experimental reconstruction of the films themselves.

 

Gleason (2016, dir. Clay Tweel). 111 minutes. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. DVD. Available from various distributors. CC.

Football star Steve Gleason and his wife, Michel, while expecting the birth of their son, grapple with his diagnosis of ALS at the age of 34. This gut-wrenching and ultimately transcendent film delivers a powerful and unvarnished view of Gleason’s physical suffering and the psychological toll it takes on his marriage and family.

 

Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405 (2017, dir. Frank Stiefel). 40 minutes. Grasshopper Film. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from Grasshopper Film (http://store.grasshopperfilm.com/heaven-is-a-traffic-jam-on-the-405.html).

Honest and poignant look at the life of artist Mindy Alper and the effects of her childhood trauma, mental illness, anxiety and depression on her art.

 

I Am Not Your Negro (2016, dir. Raoul Peck). 93 minutes. Magnolia Pictures. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. SDH.

Through an unfinished work of James Baldwin, the history of black America is told from early 20th century to #BlackLivesMatter.

 

 

I Called Him Morgan (2017, dir. Kasper Collin). 91 minutes. FilmRise. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. SDH.

In 1972, jazz trumpeter Lee Morgan was murdered at age 33 by his wife, cutting short what was already a legendary career. Using archival footage and photographs, interviews with his friends and fellow musicians, we are introduced to the tragedy of their story set against the backdrop of his amazing music.

 

Last Men in Aleppo (2017, dir. Feras Fayyad and Steen Johannessen). 104 minutes. Grasshopper Film. DVD. Available from Grasshopper (http://grasshopperfilm.com/film/last-men-in-aleppo/) and various distributors. Arabic with English subtitles.

During the Syrian civil war, residents from the town of Aleppo risk their lives as White Helmets, search and rescue volunteers. This Oscar-nominated documentary presents a harrowing and heartbreaking look at daily life, death and struggle in the streets of the besieged city.

 

Newtown (2017, dir. Kim A. Snyder). 85 minutes. Passion River Films. DVD. Available from various distributors. CC.

Through raw and heartbreaking interviews with parents, siblings, teachers, doctors and first responders, the film documents a traumatized community working to find a sense of purpose in the aftermath of the senseless mass killing at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

 

The Pearl Button (2016, dir. Patricio Guzman). 82 minutes. Kino Lorber Films. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from Kino Lorber (https://www.kinolorber.com/product/view/id/3020) and other distributors. Spanish with English subtitles.

Through stunning cinematography and poetic juxtapositions, Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzman explores the importance of water to Chile’s history and culture.

 

Political Animals (2017, dir. Jonah Markowitz and Tracy Wares). 87 minutes. Gravitas Ventures. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. CC.

The film follows four groundbreaking lesbians who took the fight for the causes most personal to them and their communities off the streets and into the halls of the California state legislature.

 

The Talk: Race in America (2017, dir. Samuel D. Pollard). 115 minutes. PBS.

A powerful film about ‘the talk’ that parents must have with their children of color to teach them how to act around the police in order to remain safe. Interweaves personal narratives of police violence against innocent young victims.

 

Tower (2016, dir. Keith Maitland). 82 minutes. Kino Lorber. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from Kino-Lorber (https://www.kinolorberedu.com/film/tower) and various distributors. CC.

On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included sixteen dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to comprehend the tragedy. Through the dynamic combination of archival footage and rotoscopic animation, Tower reveals the untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting.

 

Whose Streets? (2017, dir. Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis). 101 minutes. Magnolia Home Entertainment. DVD. Available from various distributors. Does not include captioning.

When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of Ferguson, Missouri. Footage shot on cellphones and hand-held video cameras lend the film an immediacy and urgency in this unflinching look at the uprising told by the activists and leaders of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

 

Dewey the Cat’s Favorite:

 

Kedi (2017, dir. Ceyda Torun) 80 minutes. Oscilloscope Laboratories. DVD and Blu-ray. Available from various distributors. In Turkish with English subtitles.

A city symphony of Istanbul told through the eyes of its street cats and the community that cares for them.

 

The 2018 Notable Films for Adults Committee:

Kati Irons Perez (Chair), Pierce County Library System

Cecilia Cygnar, Niles Public Library District

Philip Hallman, Hatcher Graduate Library, University of Michigan

Tiffany Hudson, Salt Lake City Public Library

Kyle Knight, St. Louis Public Library

Kathleen Morley, Seattle Public Library

Lorraine Wochna, Alden Library, Ohio University

Welcome to the New Video Librarian Website

Welcome to the new Video Librarian website. Video Librarian print subscribers will have access to all of the free features from the old site, as well as the News Briefs blog. Video Librarian Plus subscribers will be able to access all of the premium content, which now includes downloadable PDFs of the current issue and back issues. Much thanks to the Resources Online team in Seattle (www.ronline.com), who rebuilt the site from scratch and added many new features. Allison Brucker, Spencer Sundell, Dave Ahlers, and Ron Johnson put their digital backs into the project and we are very happy with the results.We look forward to continuing to bring you all of the latest video-related news and reviews.

Best,

Randy Pitman

Publisher & Editor

“Tell Them We Are Rising” Black Colleges Doc Available Now from PBS

PBS Distribution has released Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Black Colleges and Universities (DVD: $24.99, Blu-ray: $29.99). The rich history of America’s “Historically Black Colleges and Universities” (HBCUs) began before slavery ended, flourished during the 20th century, and profoundly influenced the nation’s course for over 150 years—yet this story remains largely unknown. Director Stanley Nelson here explores the powerful tale of the rise, influence, and evolution of HBCUs. A haven for black intellectuals, artists, and revolutionaries—and a path of promise toward the American dream—HBCUs have educated the architects of freedom movements and cultivated leaders in every field, from Booker T. Washington to Martin Luther King, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois to Ralph Ellison, Toni Morrison to Oprah Winfrey, Alice Walker to Spike Lee to Common.

“The Lion in Winter” 50th Anniversary Edition Bows March 13 from Kino

Kino will release The Lion in Winter: 50th Anniversary Edition (Blu-ray: $29.95) on March 13. Acting greats Peter O’Toole, Katharine Hepburn, Anthony Hopkins, and Timothy Dalton star in this epic 1968 masterpiece directed by Anthony Harvey. Behind the great stone walls of an English castle, the world’s most powerful empire is in crisis. Three sons struggle to win their father’s favor, as well as his crown. King Henry II (O’Toole) and his queen, Eleanor (Hepburn), engage in a battle of royal wits that pits elder son Richard (Hopkins) against his brothers John (Nigel Terry) and Geoffrey (John Castle), while the cunning King Philip of France (Dalton) takes advantage of the internal fracturing in his bid to destroy their kingdom. Nominated for seven Academy Awards including Best Picture, Actor (O’Toole), Director (Harvey) and Costume Design (Margaret Furse), and the winner of Oscars for Best Actress (Hepburn), Adapted Screenplay (James Goldman) and Music Score (John Barry), bonus features on this Blu-ray debut made from a 2016 4K restoration include audio commentary by Harvey, and an interview with sound recordist Simon Kaye.

“American Masters” Doc on Painter Tyrus Wong Available Now from PBS

PBS Distribution recently released American Masters: Tyrus (DVD: $24.99). Until his death at the age of 106, Tyrus Wong (1910-2016) was America’s oldest living Chinese American artist and one of the last remaining artists from the golden age of Disney animation. The quiet beauty of his Eastern-influenced paintings caught the eye of Walt Disney, who made Wong the inspirational sketch artist for Bambi. Filmmaker Pamela Tom corrects a historical wrong by spotlighting this seminal, but heretofore under-credited, figure. Born in Canton (now Guangzhou), China, right before the fall of the Chinese Empire, Wong and his father immigrated to America in 1919, never to see their family again, and the film shows how he overcame a life of poverty and racism to become a celebrated painter (who once exhibited with Picasso and Matisse), a Hollywood sketch artist, and a “Disney Legend.” Previously unseen art and interviews with Wong, together with movie clips and archival footage, illustrate how his unique style—melding Chinese calligraphic and landscape influences with contemporary Western art—is found in everything from Disney animation (Bambi) and live-action Hollywood studio films (Rebel Without a Cause, The Wild Bunch, Sands of Iwo Jima) to Hallmark Christmas cards, kites, hand-painted California dinnerware, and Depression-era WPA paintings.