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Filmed on Tuesday December 11, 02012

Rick Prelinger

Lost Landscapes of San Francisco, 7

Rick is founder of Prelinger Archives in San Francisco, whose moving image holdings may be found online at www.archive.org. Rick co-founded Prelinger Library (www.prelingerlibrary.org), a publicly-available collection of historical periodicals, books, print ephemera, maps and government documents.

Rick Prelinger, a guerrilla archivist who collects the uncollected and makes it accessible, presents the 7th of his annual Lost Landscapes of San Francisco screenings. You'll see an eclectic montage of rediscovered and rarely-seen film clips showing life, landscapes, labor and leisure in a vanished San Francisco as captured by amateurs, newsreel cameramen and studio filmmakers.

New sequences in this year's high-definition feast will include the Japanese-American community in the Western Addition before redevelopment; shipwrecks off the Northern shoreline; 1930s demonstrations for China Relief; even more Sutro Baths scenes; family films from the Mission, Richmond, Sunset and Excelsior Districts; rediscovered films of San Francisco transit; and newly discovered, never-shown documentary footage of the Tenderloin and waterfront. Much of the show will be scanned from Kodachrome and original 35mm material.

As usual, this year's Castro Theatre screening is an interactive experience: audience members will BE the soundtrack, identifying places and events, asking questions, loudly discussing San Francisco's past and future as the film unreels.

Finally, if you have family or historical films of San Francisco, it's not too late to help out -- please contact Rick through The Long Now Foundation, and we'll arrange to have your films scanned and possibly included in this year's show!

The seventh installment of the annual "Lost Landscapes of San Francisco" was cheered on by a sold-out house at the historic Castro Theater. Guerrilla archivist Rick Prelinger was the host of the Seminar where "the audience is the soundtrack." He actively encouraged a crowd-sourced commentary to help narrate his archival clips. For this installment, Prelinger had additional commentary support from historian Woody LaBounty, and was joined on stage after the screening for a panel discussion on San Francisco history & archiving by Gray Brechin and Suzanne Fischer.

This year's film started with a ferry ride instead of the usual airplane flight. From there, the audience was treated to footage that contains a half-built Bay Bridge, a folk-soundtracked BART progress report, a MUNI marketing film, and footage from old China Town. Of particular note was new footage from the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 01937, in which the neighborhood of Polk Gulch transformed itself into an old western town, complete with saloons and people dressed in Native American costumes.

When asked what future archivists would want us to capture now, Prelinger emphasized the importance of the daily moments of life:

I'd like to see people think about recording the kinds of things that happen in private life that they don't think to photograph. In other words, we socialize, we party, and we go to places that we think are beautiful. But there are aspects of private life that we don't shoot and we don't record … When they actually go into a restaurant, when they go into a bar, when they go into a market, then the evidence starts to get richer and richer and richer. I'd like to see the fabric more-evenly woven.

Rick Prelinger's archive contains hundreds of historical films showing San Francisco and Northern California history, the history of technology and industry, and everyday life.

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Seminar Sponsors

Will Hearst • David and Abby Rumsey • Kim Polese • Shel Kaphan • Garrett Gruener • Stream Guys Media Streaming • The Libra Foundation • Peter Baumann • Brian Eno • Greg Stikeleather • Richard and Angie Thieriot • Chevron • Nion McEvoy • Cameo Wood • Susie Tompkins Buell Fund • The Long Now Membership

We would also like to recognize George Cowan (01920 - 02012) for being the first to sponsor this series.