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  1. #1
    Stephen Frizza's Avatar
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    Preserving History

    As i mentioned in a previous post I have just come into possession of a large cache of Eastman Kodak Nitrate film from the 1930's. The seller I purchased these films from was unable to open the cans the film was stored in, did not know their origin and did not know the content upon the films.

    To my my discovery the films contain Horrific images of mass murder, mutilation and other atrocities. Men having their brains blown out the backs of their heads, men being gutted and left to be eaten by the birds or being buried with only their backsides out of the ground mooning the sky to name a few of the seriously sickening images these films capture of mans dark nature. I feel though that while these films of someones real events may be horrific they may have some historical significance.


    my concern is how best I should preserve these motion films of killings.
    is there anyone on earth who prints copies of nitrate films? can anyone suggest a safe way to convert the content of these motion films into a more safe and stable medium?
    "Its my profession to hijack time" ~ Stephen Frizza.

  2. #2
    Ektagraphic's Avatar
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    I don't know about having them printed, but may I ask where you obtained such films?
    Helping to save analog photography one exposure at a time

  3. #3

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    One other point: I believe there's no statute of limitations on crimes such as you commit, so you may be sitting on evidence. (Although most perpetrators of crimes committed in the 1930s are probably dead by now, there may be a few still alive.) I suggest you consult a lawyer and/or contact an appropriate police agency.

  4. #4

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    The most economical way of preservation is having the film scanned and recorded to Video. This may preserve the content. There are archives worldwide, such as George Eastman House in the USA that actually make preservation copies (on modern safety film) of historic films, but it would be a long shot. You could also possibly find a donor who would fund the project.

  5. #5
    Harry Lime's Avatar
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    Which continent do these scenes take place on? Asia? Since you are located in Australia does this material depict events in China between the major wars?

    You may have gotten hold of some historically significant footage.
    Have you considered contacting Kodak for information on preserving this material?

    I assume that you are aware that nitrate negative is extremely flamable and if I remember correctly can spontaniously combust under the right circumstances. A lot of labs, post production facilities and projection rooms are not equiped to handle it and may refuse to work with it.

    I would contact Kodak. Also schools like the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) or USC are heavily involved in preservation. UCLA has special screening rooms that are equiped to project nitrate negative.

  6. #6
    Urmas R.'s Avatar
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    I would probably contact a good history museum and discuss the discovery. These photos might just change the understanding of some historical event (WWI probably in this case?) and have thus a much greater importance.

    Most top level museums also have their own labs to develop, print or restore old photos. It might be a great loss if some valuable photo gets damaged in a poor lab.

  7. #7
    Stephen Frizza's Avatar
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    The films have been shot in Northern Australia and were acquired through private sale. The seller not knowing anything about the items they were selling. Believes the only thing of possible interest was that the rusted tins would be Kodak memorabilia. Their contents which were ultra hard to release revealed to be quite a horrific but interesting find. I own a small pro lab in Sydney and have gotten the film stored in a fireproof containment at the moment until I figure out what is the best thing to do with them.
    "Its my profession to hijack time" ~ Stephen Frizza.

  8. #8

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    Old nitrate films are usually quite fragile. They need special care when duplicating them. There are a couple of groups that specialize in doing this, but I don't recall their names. I would contact the George Eastman House for assistance and references.

  9. #9

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    As someone said above, a history museum or a museum associated with a large university is a likely alternative. They will either have the resources or be able to apply for grants to handle the films. Nitrate films can be successfully transferred to either safety film or video. Keep them stored in a cool, dry place in the meantime.

    Peter Gomena

  10. #10
    tim_walls's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stephen Frizza View Post
    The films have been shot in Northern Australia and were acquired through private sale. The seller not knowing anything about the items they were selling. Believes the only thing of possible interest was that the rusted tins would be Kodak memorabilia. Their contents which were ultra hard to release revealed to be quite a horrific but interesting find. I own a small pro lab in Sydney and have gotten the film stored in a fireproof containment at the moment until I figure out what is the best thing to do with them.
    If I were you, I'd be on the phone to the University of Sydney's history department ASAP.

    They may well either have the facilities or know where to obtain them to deal with projecting/copying nitrate film relatively locally (suggestions in the US are all well and good, but I wish you luck finding an airline/carrier willing to ship the stuff once they know what it is,) but they will also have the experience to know how to deal with the content. As someone says, what you have may well have evidential/legal value as well as historical.


    (Edit: Minor edit and ... great minds apparently think alike! Peter put it much more succinctly than me and we crossed in the post!)
    Another day goes under; a little bourbon will take the strain...

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