Contact: Eric Schwartz, Film Preservation Foundation (202) 416-6817; Steve Leggett, Library of Congress (202) 707-5912

April 25, 1997

Librarian of Congress Makes New Appointments to Film Preservation Foundation

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington today announced appointment of nine Directors to serve on the Board of the newly established National Film Preservation Foundation (NFPF).

Congress created the Foundation late last year with passage of the National Film Preservation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-285). The establishment of the Foundation is one of the most important developments in the film preservation field in the past several decades. The NFPF is the first federally chartered foundation dedicated to the preservation of America's film heritage and marks the culmination of a public-private planning effort begun in 1993 by film-community leaders, educators and archivists, under the leadership of the Librarian of Congress and the National Film Preservation Board. The Foundation's main goal is to raise money for archives nationwide to preserve America's film heritage. No such organization now exists.

"The Foundation Directors announced today will have the important task of launching the Foundation and its fund-raising efforts," said Dr. Billington. "Given congressional support for this Foundation during financially difficult times, these few positions are very prestigious appointments. The nine individuals I have chosen have a challenging and complex national film preservation problem to tackle, and I look forward to working with each of them in our efforts to address these problems."

The nine Foundation Directors appointed today are:

  • Celeste Bartos, Chair, Museum of Modern Art Trustee Committee on Film and Video
  • John Cooke, Executive Vice President, Corporate Affairs, The Walt Disney Company
  • Laurence Fishburne, Actor /Producer
  • Ann Dibble Jordan, Consultant, Member/Director of Various Corporate Boards
  • Roger Mayer, President and Chief Operating Officer, Turner Entertainment Co.
  • David W. Packard, Stanford Theater Foundation
  • John Ptak, Creative Artists Agency
  • Martin Scorsese, Filmmaker and President of The Film Foundation "Filmmakers for Film Preservation"
  • Alan K. Simpson, former U.S. Senator (R-Wyo.)

The Foundation is an independent, private sector 501c (3) (not-for-profit) organization. It will raise money and give grants for the benefit of film preservation activities of U.S. nonprofit institutions with film collections, ranging from large archives to small regional or historical archives. The focus of the Foundation's efforts will be on so-called "orphan" films, such as documentaries, silent films, independent films, newsreels, films by or documenting minorities, films of regional interest -- films of enormous educational and cultural significance but possessing limited commercial value.

To fulfill its mission, the Foundation will raise private funds and forge innovative public-private partnerships involving motion picture studios, film artists, archives and others. It will be a lean, mission-driven organization, keeping administrative/fund-raising costs to minimal levels (i.e., a goal of approximately 5 percent once the Foundation is fully established). By law, no federal funds may be used for administrative or operating costs; all such expenses will have to be funded through contributions from private corporations, foundations and individuals.

Private funds may eventually be matched with limited federal funds and distributed via grants to nonprofit film archives, state historical societies and other institutions with film collections throughout the United States. Grants will focus not on films controlled by the major film studios, but rather on the films of significant research, historical or documentary value. In addition to direct preservation work, grants may aid related, important activities such as improving storage facilities, cataloging of films, repatriation of American films from foreign archives and helping make films more accessible to the American public, in ways fully compatible with U.S. copyright law.

Dr. Billington added, "Film preservation presents one of the most vexing cultural crises we face today, given the high cost of preserving or restoring a single film title, which can range from a few thousand to hundreds of thousands of dollars. To begin to solve all aspects of the film preservation crisis would require millions of dollars. I again express my appreciation to Congress and the administration for creating this Foundation. Now it is up to all in the film community to pitch in together and make the Foundation work."

The National Film Preservation Board will continue to advise the Librarian on the annual selection of films to the National Film Registry and national film preservation policy, in addition to assisting the Foundation with important studies and coordination of information on film preservation matters.

Also today, Dr. Billington announced the appointment of Eric Schwartz, a copyright attorney with the firm of Proskauer Rose Goetz & Mendelsohn LLP, as interim Executive Director for the Foundation. Mr. Schwartz will continue to serve as pro bono counsel to the National Film Preservation Board, a position he has held since its inception in 1988.

Up-to-date information on Foundation activities (including how to make donations) can be obtained from Mr. Schwartz at (202) 416-6817 or Steve Leggett at (202) 707-5912, and from the Foundation's World Wide Web home page at

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PR 97-88
ISSN 0731-3527

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