Film Preservation & Restoration

Film preservation and restoration is expensive and time-consuming, and the clock is ticking. Of all the films ever made, only 50% survive in some form. It's even worse for the silent era: a mere 15% are known to survive.

For every major film like Metropolis or Lawrence of Arabia that enjoys a lavish preservation budget, there are thousands of other important films – big and small, famous and obscure – that languish for lack of funding.

By making a donation of any size to the organization(s) of your choice, you can play a direct role in helping to save important films today.

Below are links to donation information for many archives, groups, and organizations actively engaged in film preservation work. In many cases, your donation is tax deductible. (The Sprocket Society is not affiliated with, sponsored, or funded by any organization listed here.)

  • Library of Congress
  • National Film Preservation Foundation
    The nonprofit organization created by the US Congress to help save America's film heritage
  • UCLA Film and Television Archive
    The second largest film archive in the US, after the Library of Congress
  • George Eastman Museum
    Located on the estate of photography and film pioneer George Eastman, the museum's collections include an archive of more than 28,000 titles spanning the entire history of international cinema, and a huge collection of related papers and ephemera. It is also the home of the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation.
  • The Film Foundation
    Established in 1990 by Martin Scorsese, and dedicated to protecting and preserving motion picture history.
  • Harvard Film Archive
    A division of Harvard Library, dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of film, including an archive of over 40,000 motion picture prints, audio visual elements and ephemera from around the world
  • Pacific Film Archive / BAMPFA
    Founded in 1967 as part of the UC Berkeley library, the Pacific Film Archive houses over 16,000 films and videos, including the largest collection of Japanese films outside of Japan, and maintains one of the major film reference services in the country.
  • Anthology Film Archives
    An international center for the preservation, study, and exhibition of film and video, with a particular focus on independent, experimental, and avant-garde cinema. Founded in 1969 by Jonas Mekas, Jerome Hill, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, and Stan Brakhage
  • Film-makers' Cooperative / New American Cinema Group
    The first artist-run organization devoted to the dissemination of moving image art, with an archive consisting of more than 5000 films, an extensive research center, and a digitzation and preservation center. Founded in 1961 as a membership cooperation by a group of 22 New York artists, including Jonas Mekas, Shirley Clarke, Ken and Flo Jacobs, Andy Warhol, and Jack Smith.
  • Center for Visual Music
    A nonprofit film archive dedicated to visual music, experimental animation and abstract media.
  • Women's Film Preservation Fund (New York Women in Film & Television)
    "The only program in the world dedicated to preserving the cultural legacy of women in the industry. It was founded in 1995 by NYWIFT in conjunction with the Museum of Modern Art."
  • Outfest Legacy Project for LGBT Film Preservation
  • SFSFF Preservation Fund (San Francisco Silent Film Festival)
    Helping to fund the preservation and restoration of silent film titles from around the world, working with major archives and institutions, and maintaining a collection of 35mm prints in the SFSFF Collection at the Library of Congress.
  • Northeast Historic Film
    "A moving image archives founded in 1986 that collects and preserves the film and video record of northern New England (Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Massachusetts), and to provide public access to the history and culture of the region embodied in it."
  • Museum of Modern Art (NYC)
    Founded in 1935, MOMA's film library and archive was among the very first in the world and today ranks among the finest in the world, with more than 30,000 titles from around the world, and the state-of-the-art Celeste Bartos Film Preservation Center.
  • Sundance Institute: Film Preservation
    "To address the specific preservation risks posed to independent film, Sundance Institute partnered with the UCLA Film & Television Archive to form the Sundance Institute Collection at UCLA in 1997. The Collection at UCLA is home to hundreds of films, and we actively endeavor to rescue those that are at risk and identify titles in need of restoration."
  • National Endowment for the Arts (NEA)
    Yes, you can donate directly to the NEA.

Practical Film Preservation & Restoration Information

History and Politics of Film Preservation

  • Caroline Frick, Saving Cinema: The Politics of Preservation (Oxford University Press, 2011)
  • Anthony Slide, Nitrate Won't Wait: A History of Film Preservation in the United States (McFarland, 2000. Originally published 1992.)
  • Karen F. Gracy, Film Preservation: Competing Definitions of Value, Use, and Practice (Society of American Archivists, 2009)
  • Giovanna Fossati, From Grain to Pixel: The Archival Life of Film in Transition (Amsterdam University Press, 2010)
  • Penelope Houston, Keepers of the Frame: The Film Archives (British Film Institute, 1994)
  • Haidee Wasson, Museum Movies: The Museum of Modern Art and the Birth of Art Cinema (University of California Press, 2005)
  • These Amazing Shadows: The Movies That Make America (Paul Mariano & Kurt Norton, 2011) – A documentary on the history and importance of The National Film Registry. Aired on the PBS series Independent Lens in Dec. 2011. Now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

Graduate-Level Film Preservation & Archiving Education Programs