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Image Bows Set of 155 'Unseen' Films

30 Aug, 2005 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Interesting things can happen when you almost choke on a chicken bone. For film curator Bruce Posner, it meant a new lease on life spent canvassing the globe for two years looking for rare movies. The result: Image Entertainment's Oct. 18 release Unseen Cinema: Early Avant-Garde Film 1894-1941.

“When I got out of the hospital, I realized it was time to do something big,” Posner said. “And the issue of what happened to early experimental independent films had always bugged me. This is my field. I save films.”

Working with producer David Shepard (who negotiated distribution with Image), Anthology Film Archives in New York, and Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt, Posner quickly assembled more than 500 films from personal collections, archives and the major studios Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. That number was whittled down to 155 based on the preservation of prints and what Posner could get the rights to.

“I just worked like crazy,” said Posner, who admitted the project was his first-ever DVD. “Money really wasn't an issue. It was someone saying yes or no.”

Image will release Unseen Cinema as a seven-disc set ($99.99) and, separately, Picturing a Metropolis ($24.99 DVD), a collection of 26 short films of New Yorkers among skyscrapers, streets and the nightlife of Manhattan.

Extras includes essays from Posner, film notes from 32 film historians and a 253-page CD-ROM photo gallery highlighting outtakes from such filmmakers as D.W. Griffith, Marcel Duchamp, Victor Fleming, Ernst Lubitsch, Busby Berkeley, Elia Kazan, Man Ray, and Orson Welles.

In a separate matter, Egami Media, Image's digital distribution unit, announced it had secured the rights to more than 1,200 video programs, including music concerts from Cher and Cream, and restored silent and classic films from D.W. Griffith, F.W. Murnau, Charlie Chaplin and Bruce Brown, among others.

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