James Hinton Film Collection

Project Summary

Submitted by Liz Coffey of Harvard Film Archive.

The films of James E. Hinton (1936-2006) were donated to the Harvard Film Archive by his family in 2009. Hinton, perhaps best known for his photographic documentation of the Civil Rights era, was the cinematographer for the groundbreaking film GANJA AND HESS (1973). He was a founding member of a small African-American film collective, Harlem Audio Visual (formed, 1967), and later started his own filmmaking company, James E. Hinton Enterprises (formed 1968). Most of Hinton’s film work was done far outside Hollywood, making industrial and educational films.

The HFA processed this collection and created a finding aid, available through OASIS: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:FHCL:hfa00009

A print of THE NEW-ARK, Hinton’s portrait of Amiri Baraka and the Black Power movement in Newark, NJ, was recently discovered to be unique, and was digitally restored with the assistance of Anthology Film Archives in NYC. Its rediscovery premiere was April 22, 2014 in Newark, NJ.

We propose to work with a local vendor to digitize thirty-eight 16mm films in this collection, creating large, uncompressed .mov files for longterm storage, with Quicktime files for access.

Amount requested is $12,250.

Expected Results with Partial Funding

With partial funding, the HFA could digitize a prioritized portion of this collection. The remainder of the collection could be digitized at a later date when funding is available.

Estimated Follow-on Activities and/or Costs

We presently use the DRS for audio file storage. Once the DRS is capable of storing digital moving image files we will store the uncompressed files in the DRS. HFA funds will be allocated for this storage cost. Until such time, the files will be backed up on redundant hard drives. We do not yet know what the DRS will charge for digital moving image file storage.

This project will require some work by the Film Conservator at Media Preservation.

Benefit to Harvard Scholars and Patrons

Digitizing the films will provide easier access, and will protect the original 16mm prints from further damage.

This collection has been studied and written about by two independent researchers since its addition to the HFA and is sure to be of interest to more.

When copyright control is not an issue, digital access will also provide content to students who use moving images in their work.

Ways the Project Supports Cross-Unit or Cross-Discipline Activities

This collection is of interest to students of industrial film and independent educational documentary film, as well as those interested the professional work of African American filmmakers in the 1960s-1970s.

The topics addressed in the films (Black Power, sickle cell anemia, art programs in prisons, etc.) will also be of interest to a diverse variety of scholars.

Resources the Sponsoring Library Can Support or Will Need Support For

The HFA may use part of their MOU with Media Preservation Services if desired.

Other Approaches to Achieving Goal or Result

We are able to provide access to some of the films without digitizing them, but the films have to be viewed on specialized equipment at the Conservation Center at 625 Massachusetts Avenue.

Risks if Proposal is Not Approved

Left as is, some of the collection will remain somewhat inaccessible. If access to the original prints continues, they will be vulnerable to possible damage through use.

Additional Information

This collection is a unique part of the HFA’s diverse holdings. Few other (if any) similar collections of African-American-produced industrial film are known to exist in university archives.

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