Jonathan Rosenbaum in the Chicago Reader (Nov. 23, 2001):
OUT OF THE VAULT
Several months ago, when Chicagoan Jim Finn discovered that the Chicago Public Library was closing its 16-millimeter film collection--not surprisingly given declining use and cost of upkeep--he started doing everything he could to rally public interest in preserving this material, attempting something comparable to what writer Nicholson Baker has done for preserving newspapers. As a consequence of Finn's passion, two extended programs will be offered this weekend and next that showcase a small portion of the old film collection at the Harold Washington Library--a rich array of material ranging from documentaries to two of Luis Buñuel's best Mexican features. This weekend's highlighted categories are "Rats and Apes" (three programs), "Africa to Afghanistan" (one program), "Revolution and the Little Children" (two programs), and "The Charm of Old Chicago" (two programs). It looks like a compendium of priceless, irreplaceable work. All programs will be held at the Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., and admission is free.
I would like to thank all of the people who helped make this festival happen: Peter McDowell, who agreed to the festival in the first place; Dean DeMatteis, who made the beautiful poster; Colleen Burke, Butcher Walsh, and Fay Davis-Jeffers, who helped me pick up and pick out the films; Dana Carter, Jeff Mueller and Kerri Sancomb who signed up to take out films (at the risk of a $1,500 dollar library fine which they considerately pointed out to us); the humans at the Nervous Center who also harassed the library daily about their decision, and everyone else who helped with the festival and waited in the car so I would not get towed (twice). The Out of the Vault festival was a huge success with lots of viewers and great press. After the festival, the Cultural Center, thanks to the hard work of Nancy Watrous and Jeff Hamand, decided to manage the collection at least long enough to go through the films and figure out what they have. If you are interested in finding out more about this, please contact Jeff Hamand at the Chicago Cultural Center.
---Jim Finn, November 2003
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