Rochester, N.Y., May 4, 2016—The George Eastman Museum has been invited to screen two films from its collection at the second annual Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) in Bentonville, Arkansas this week. In conjunction with the festival, a group of photographs of legendary actresses from the George Eastman Museum collection will also be featured in the Reel Women: Icons and Identity in Film exhibition at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville.
The Reel Women exhibition is organized by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in collaboration with the George Eastman Museum and the BFF.
BFF is co-founded by Academy Award winner Geena Davis, who also established the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media, and Trevor Drinkwater, the President and CEO of ARC Entertainment. The festival aims to ensure that the American entertainment industry fairly represents the national audience, which is comprised of more than 50 percent women, and the growing diversity of the population of the United States.
The Reel Women exhibition explores images of celebrity actresses and their power to project some form of feminine ideal that is often unrealistic. It is a collection of fourteen celebrity photos of actresses from the Golden Age of Hollywood, mainly spanning the years 1929–1940. There are photographs of Marlene Dietrich, Joan Crawford, Anna May Wong, Greta Garbo, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, Vivien Leigh, Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and others—all women who were idolized, but were also able to pave the way for diversity in the entertainment field.
“These photographs offer glimpses at the dichotomy between individual identity and the role as public icon in film,” said Bruce Barnes, Ron and Donna Fielding Director of the George Eastman Museum. “During this period in Hollywood, actresses were thought of as ‘products’ by the studios that managed their personas and images. Even though the studios exercised great control over their livelihoods and thus limited their artistic freedom, there is still remarkable strength within the accomplished women in these photographs."
In conjunction with the Reel Women photography exhibition, BFF will host a free Gallery Talk today from 11:30am to 12:30pm at Crystal Bridges. Dr. Barnes and Alison Demorotski, Curatorial Assistant at Crystal Bridges, will engage in a deeper conversation about the portraits of these movie stars, many of whom are fading in our collective memory. Demorotski is a 2006 graduate of the Photographic Preservation and Collections Management master’s program at the George Eastman Museum.
Following the Gallery Talk, BFF presents a rare opportunity to view two groundbreaking films not seen in theaters in decades. Thanks to the support from the festival, the two silent prints from the Eastman Museum's nitrate film collection have been digitized through the Eastman digital preservation facility. Borderline (1930) will be screened today at 3 pm, and Beasts of the Jungle (1913) on Thursday, May 5, 11 am, as part of the festival's Library Series taking place at the Bentonville Public Library.
Jared Case, the Head of Collections, Information, Research and Access in the Moving Image Department at the George Eastman Museum, will introduce the films. A description of the significance of each film follows:
Borderline (1930): Paul Robeson, an African American singer and actor who had an international career in singing—with a distinctive, powerful, deep bass voice—as well as acting in theater and movies, stars in this meditation on love and society that is bold in both subject matter and cinematographic technique.
Beasts of the Jungle (1913): Alice Guy-Blaché, the first female director who owned her own studio and produced hundreds of films, made Beasts of the Jungle over 100 years ago. It is an extravagantly produced (for its time) location film combining exotic scenery and some very real wild animals.
“At the George Eastman Museum we know the past has the power to inspire,” said Dr. Barnes. “It’s a very important part of our mission to show films from the past alongside contemporary motion pictures to spark conversation and show the evolution of the medium, especially as it relates to women and diversity.”
The Bentonville Film Festival runs May 3-8. For more information about BFF, please visit bentonvillefilmfestival.com.
Reel Women at Crystal Bridges is on view through July 18. For more information visit CrystalBridges.org.
About the George Eastman Museum
Founded in 1947, the George Eastman Museum is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the largest film archives in the United States, located on the historic Rochester estate of entrepreneur and philanthropist George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography. Its holdings comprise more than 400,000 photographs, 28,000 motion picture films, the world’s preeminent collection of photographic and cinematographic technology, one of the leading libraries of books related to photography and cinema, and extensive holdings of documents and other objects related to George Eastman. As a research and teaching institution, the Eastman Museum has an active publishing program and, through its two joint master’s degree programs with the University of Rochester, makes critical contributions to the fields of film preservation and of photographic preservation and collection management.
About Bentonville Film Festival (BFF)
Co-founded by Academy Award Winner® Geena Davis, founder and chair of the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media and President and CEO of ARC Entertainment Trevor Drinkwater in 2015, BFF is steeped in a mission focusing on content that exemplifies the growing diversity of the American landscape. Research and social action are deeply rooted in the objectives of the Festival and its leadership. BFF provides a platform to significantly increase the commercial value of content produced by minorities and women. The Festival takes place in early May in Bentonville, Arkansas and provides ongoing and turnkey distribution opportunities for its festival content and creators for global reach. BFF is the only film competition in the world to guarantee theatrical, television, digital and retail home entertainment distribution for its winners in partnership with AMC Theaters, Walmart, Lifetime, Starz and VUDU.
About Crystal Bridges
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities. Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton chairs the Museum’s board of directors. Since its opening, the Museum has welcomed more than two million visitors, and garnered 9,000+ membership households. Some 110,000 school children have participated in the Museum’s Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. More than 250,000 visitors a year utilize the Museum’s 3.5 miles of walking trails.
Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, Museum Store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum's 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas. Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola — each reflecting a distinct moment in American artistic evolution—as well as major works by modern and contemporary American artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell. The permanent collection, which continues to grow through a strategic acquisition plan, is on view year-round and is enhanced by an array of temporary exhibitions.
Crystal Bridges also offers two research fellowship programs. The Tyson Scholars in American Art program supports full-time scholarship in the history of American art. The Reese Teacher Fellowship provides for research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences. Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at CrystalBridges.org.
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