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Mike Gebert wrote:Okay, let's everybody take it down a few notches.
The problem, Norman, is that I think you imagine a state of affairs in which Obscure Film X is highly sought after and sneaky collector snatches it out from under the nose of someone more likely to share it with you, a well-funded institution which would make it available to everyone.
Except maybe in a few cases— like Detlaff and Frankenstein— something more like the opposite is the reality. Collector finds the thing no one wants. Often collectors work with institutions and studios to make things available— there's the example right now where the Vitaphone Project is working with Warners right now to preserve the earliest Three Stooges film, which a collector turned out to have in Australia and alerted them to. But that's the Stooges, bigger than Garbo. Most things are obscure for good reason, and nobody wants them, there is no deep-pocketed Santa for most of them, not even Hef.
So the collector isn't the last obstacle in front of their being shared— he's more likely to be the first line of defense against it vanishing forever. He cares because he's the only one who cares. And that's without getting into the problem of studios which have been known to seize things collectors had even when the collector has the only one, and so on.
You want to see the rare things collectors have? Do you go to any of the conventions? Cinefest is coming right up and there's no end of things there that some collector has saved and some archive has put money into fixing up. Then there's Cinevent and Cinesation and Cinecon and Pordenone and so on. Not only can you see the saved things, you can talk to the people involved in it, you can even fund the restoration of this or that. There's no hidden cabal, it's right there happy to chat with you— and share with you.
No, I don't. I know all of those things, and like I already wrote I don't have any beef with collectors, except when they are arrogant and presumptuous. The examples that you give are the opposite too: At those fests the films are for the public the way they were meant to be. But this system that you've just described can be a pain if you are for example looking for 1 particular film.
I agree that lack of funds is the issue, not surprisingly. (No, I haven't funded anything, but I have seen to it that the nitrate I found one day got a good home.)
But I also think there may be a small number of people who simply get off on having something others don't ("I don't want to lend"). I've heard stories of people who had been holding on to some shows, whose next of kin tossed their collection in the garbage can the week after they died...
This is nøt å signåture.™