Lost Japanese Films

Christiane Gruen Christiane.Gruen at gmx.de
Fri Dec 5 08:51:43 EST 2008

Dear Roger Macy,

thanks for your reply. We're aware of the fact that a huge percentage of our film heritage is lost - about 80% of all silent films are presumed lost - which is exactly why Deutsche Kinemathek initiated the Lost Films project.

It is exactly the huge amount of lost films you pointed to in your email that made us realise the project in the way we did: as a website for the community as well as a website depending on active contributions from that community. We want to encourage active collaboration among experts world-wide, as we believe that this is the only practical way dealing with the issue.

At the same time, Lost Films is, of course, also about discovering and perspectively preserving film: During our research for the project, we got the information by a contributor that a copy of the presumed lost film 'Der Sieger' existed in The National Film Center of the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo. Just to give you one example.

Regarding your question about a list of preserved films: The main German film archive concerned with restoring and preserving film is Bundesarchiv-Filmarchiv. Since 2003 they publish an annual list of films having been preserved and reconstructed, the lists from 2003 to 2007 can be accessed via http://www.bundesarchiv.de/aufgaben_organisation/abteilungen/fa/01471/index.html. However, this concerns German films only, I'm afraid.

On our own website, you can find a list of all films in distribution (click on 'Filmverleih' on www.deutsche-kinemathek.de). Besides that, we provide seven case studies on films that have been restored recently (Archive/Filmarchive/Restaurierungen).

Besides that, it might be interesting for you to have a look at the Fiaf Treasures of the Film Archives database (focuses mainly on silent films) http://www.fiafnet.org/uk/publications/fdbo_content.cfm
as well as www.europafilmtreasures.eu.

I think we do share the same aim: to make the invisible side of film history visible.

Best regards,
Christiane Grün

-------- Original-Nachricht --------
> Datum: Wed, 3 Dec 2008 13:39:06 -0000
> Von: "Roger Macy" <macyroger at yahoo.co.uk>
> An: KineJapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu
> Betreff: Re: Lost Japanese Films

> Dear Christiane Gruen,
> You ask -
> "Therefore we ask if anybody knows of any Japanese films, which are
> believed lost, that they please post to the list or get in touch with me at the
> email address listed below."
> Alas, for Japan, the question is overwhelming, if not mocking, since most
> Japanese films are lost.  Of the many thousands of films made before 1940
> (such as to be found on the JMDb website) all but a few hundred, I believe,
> are lost.  And plenty after this date are also lost - for example, Jasper
> Sharp points out, in his new book that most pink films have not been
> preserved. 
> So, for practical reasons, our focus is on what films are preserved.  We
> have had recent threads on this list as to the availability of information
> on which films are preserved - see 'Film archive catalogues' and 'Japanese
> governmental agencies/film culture promotional policies'.  Due to the lack
> of easy availability of preservation information, Professor High's pointer
> to his book is particularly useful.
> The discussion on your website as to what might constitute a 'lost film'
> is valuable.  But whilst we have your attention, may I ask one question and
> make one suggestion, please?
> Question: (Assuming the Deutsche Kinemathek is the institution in Germany
> that holds information on films preserved in Germany,)  Is it one of those
> institutions that puts on line the listing of those films it has preserved?
>  If so, what is the link, please.  If not, a listing of any East Asian
> films up to 1945 that are held would interest scholars, particularly as there
> are a few films that may have reached Berlin via Moscow.
> Suggestion: There is another category of found films that are hidden, in
> so far as there is no budget to produce projection copies.  Publicity for
> these might produce the positive result of procuring sponsorship for their
> projection and distribution.  For example, the only copy of a 1923 film by
> Conrad Wiene, DIE MACHT DER FINSTERNIS, (with Russian actors and, presumably,
> a Russian script) exists at Waseda University, Tokyo with English titles -
> see the report by Dr. Uli Jung in Filmblatt, Summer, 2003.  Perhaps your
> institution could find the budget to combine the revival of this hidden
> German film with that of a Japanese film in a similar state?
> sincerely,
> Roger Macy
> ----- Original Message ----- 
> From: "Christiane Gruen" <Christiane.Gruen at gmx.de>
> To: <kinejapan at lists.acs.ohio-state.edu>
> Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 3:52 PM

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