“It’s one of the rare cases where the tyranny of distance has worked in our and the films’ favor.” — Steve Russell, the New Zealand archive’s manager of corporate services
In the New Zealand Film Archive, some 75 American silents have been discovered and are in the process of being returned to the United States. The New York Times has a slide show of images from these films, which include Upstream (1927) directed by John Ford and Maytime (1923) starring Clara Bow.
The films discovered have a highly significant place in American silent film history. The backstage drama Upstream, for instance, reflects the influence that German director F.W. Murnau had on Ford’s naturalistic style. Other significant films include Dolly of the Dallies starring Mary Fuller; little survives of her work.
The discovery of the films has been monumental but shipping the films, which were printed on highly flammable nitrate stock, and funding the restoration has proven to be difficult. Read the NY Times article for those details.
The preserved films will be made public through archival screenings and as streaming video on the National Film Preservation Foundation website.