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The University of Oregon Acquires the Archives of Alumnus and Filmmaker James Blue

Donation from Richard Blue coincides with conclusion of six-month tribute

Gerald O'Grady and James Blue, 1979EUGENE, Ore.–(ENEWSPF)–April 10, 2014 – The work of James Blue, a University of Oregon alumnus and Oregon’s first Oscar-nominated independent filmmaker renowned for his socially engaged documentaries and teaching, will be available for scholars and the public as part of a comprehensive archive.

The archive includes the filmmaker’s screenplays, storyboards, notes and research, correspondence, teaching materials, photographs, home movies, documentary and feature films in various formats, and audio interviews with many of the world’s leading film directors. The newly acquired materials are being processed and catalogued by UO Libraries staff, and are expected to be directly accessible to students and scholars in 2015.

In partnership with the Cinema Pacific film festival, UO Libraries has launched an online “living archive” titled The James Blue Project that will exhibit selected films and documents from the James Blue Archive as they are uncovered and restored. 

The archive has been donated to the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives by Richard Blue, brother of James and chairman of the newly formed James and Richard Blue Foundation.

“The mission of the foundation is not only to preserve and share James’ complete body of work, but to support film educators, filmmakers, researchers and students whose values and activities advance his vision of participatory media,” said Richard Blue. “We want to remember James Blue as an unconventional documentarian who used film to help marginalized communities tell their own stories while helping audiences better understand the complexities of the human condition.”

James Fox, head of the UO Libraries Special Collections and University Archives, said the collection will considerably strengthen the university’s growing collection of research materials in film and film history.

“This archive extensively documents James Blue’s three decades as a filmmaker and educator and provides critical insights into his personal life and development as an artist. It is a major research collection of international significance,” said Fox.

Blue’s life work had profound implications for social justice as he documented the hopes and dreams of people whose voices are rarely—if ever—heard by people in power.  The foundation will collaborate with the UO to preserve, conserve, restore and utilize the entire body of James Blue’s media legacy while supporting education in the art and craft of documentary filmmaking.

The foundation aims to advance the core values of James Blue’s passion for using media to explore, connect and empower voiceless communities by awarding annual grants to students and emerging filmmakers who exemplify his artistry.

The James Blue collection of work is also the subject of a series of lectures, film screenings and panel discussions in Eugene and Portland. Events will be held during the fifth annual Cinema Pacific film festival, running April 23 to April 27 to celebrate Blue, concluding a six-month tribute that began with a 50th-anniversary screening of Blue’s “The March,” a documentary on the 1963 March on Washington. The film was selected in 1968 for the National Film Registry of essential American films.

On April 23, the collection will be celebrated by those who knew Blue best, as well as national experts who have assessed the significance of his work. Christina Kovac, supervisory motion picture preservation specialist at the National Archives, will discuss her work in preserving James Blue’s films made for the U.S. government. Also, ethnographic filmmaker and scholar David MacDougall will introduce and discuss “Kenya Boran,” the film he co-directed with James Blue in 1970.

In Portland, Cinema Pacific will join with the “What Is Documentary?” conference organized by the UO School of Journalism and Communication for a series of plenary talks, panels and screenings devoted to James Blue’s career and legacy.  Among the events on April 25 will be a panel discussion titled “James Blue’s Documentary Legacy,” in which Gerald O’Grady, who has been deeply involved in preservation work on materials in the James Blue Archive, will speak on the archive’s rich storehouse of interviews that James Blue conducted with legendary documentary directors. The UO School of Journalism and Communication’s Daniel Miller and Suzanne Clark are also on the panel.

The family of James Blue joins the closing reception of the “What is Documentary?” conference on April 26 to announce plans for the new foundation and award the first-ever James Blue Award for filmmaking.

About the James and Richard Blue Foundation
The mission of the James and Richard Blue Foundation is to honor and celebrate the life and legacy of award-winning filmmaker James Blue (1930—1980) and to support film educators, filmmakers, researchers and students whose values and activities advance his vision of ‘participatory media.’ The foundation aims to advance the core values of James Blue’s passion for using media to explore, connect and empower voiceless communities by awarding annual grants to students and emerging filmmakers who exemplify his artistry.

About the University of Oregon

The University of Oregon is a world-class teaching and research institution and Oregon’s flagship public university. The UO is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU), an organization made up of 62 of the leading public and private research institutions in the United States and Canada. Membership in the AAU is by invitation only. The University of Oregon is one of only two AAU members in the Pacific Northwest.

Source: uoregon.edu

 

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