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George Eastman House to celebrate first curator of motion pictures with exhibition and film series

“Collecting Shadows: The Legacy of James Card” opens on April 11

Rochester, N.Y., April 6, 2015—The hundredth anniversary of the birth of James Card, the first curator of motion pictures at George Eastman House, is October 25, 2015. To commemorate this occasion, the museum presents Collecting Shadows: The Legacy of James Card, an exhibition celebrating Card’s roles as collector, educator, and showman. The exhibition will open on April 11 and run through October 25, 2015.

“Card’s role in building the moving image collection at Eastman House and in furthering the cause for film preservation worldwide is without equal,” said Paolo Cherchi Usai, Senior Curator of the Moving Image Department, George Eastman House. “His impact on film preservation cannot be overstated. His philosophy and his achievements are his everlasting legacy, as testified by the continued excellence of the department he founded.”

In addition to the exhibition in the museum’s Colonnade, an extensive film series in the Dryden Theatre, The Legacy of James Card, will showcase films that influenced Card as a collector, those that would not exist had it not been for his preservation efforts, and those that today’s curatorial staff believe Card would have loved. The series will continue on Tuesdays through the run of the exhibition. For more information about film titles and dates, visit dryden.eastmanhouse.org.

As curator of motion pictures at George Eastman House from 1948 to 1977, Card brought his diverse collection of eight hundred films to serve as the core of the museum’s moving image collection. He described motion pictures as “the ambrosia of my life,” and his desire to instill this same passion in others led to the collection, rescue, preservation, and communal sharing—through proper archival projection—of films from around the world. These tenets remain at the core of the museum’s mission today. During Card’s tenure at the museum, he established the Dryden Theatre as a quintessential arena of film appreciation. He believed that cinema belonged to the audience as much as to the curators and cinephiles. Many popular and well-regarded silent films, such as Peter Pan (Herbert Brenon, US 1924) and Wings (William A. Wellman, US 1927), would not exist today if not for Card’s efforts and authoritative voice in film preservation.

Card took his passion for the art of cinema beyond the walls of George Eastman House, having taught film at both the University of Rochester and Syracuse University. He was also a founder of the Telluride Film Festival—today one of the most respected festivals in the world—and his early association with the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) further expanded the museum's influence in the film community worldwide.

“I cannot conceive of living without showing films. Movies have been the ambrosia of my life. To offer that gift to others, sharing in their enjoyment of the movies I love, is my greatest joy.” – James Card

Collecting Shadows: The Legacy of James Card is sponsored in part by Jason Olshefsky and Jenn Libby. The exhibition will be on display in the museum’s Colonnade from April 11 through October 25, 2015. Later this year, Eastman House will continue the celebration of Card with the 16th annual James Card Memorial Lecture. These lectures, presented by a visiting scholar, filmmaker, festival director, or film preservation specialist, focus on James Card's life and work, his cultural vision, and a wide array of themes linked to the mission of saving, restoring, and showcasing the art of cinema for the benefit of present and future audiences. Complete details on the 2015 James Card Memorial Lecture will be released this summer. For more information about the exhibition or accompanying film series, visit eastmanhouse.org