Bruce Jenkins

As an undergraduate working for the New York University cinema studies department, Bruce Jenkins operated a technological device that has...

As an undergraduate working for the New York University cinemastudies department, Bruce Jenkins operated a technological devicethat has changed but little in the last century: the film projector."I love it--it's the last vestige of the machine age in contemporaryuse," he says. "A decade from now, when film has becomenothing but digital information on a screen, the only place tohave that celluloid-based experience with that creaky machinewill be in a film archive or museum." As the new curatorof the Harvard Film Archive, succeeding its founder, Vlada Petric,Jenkins is steward of more than 5,000 films, the vast majorityin 35-millimeter theatrical format. The archive will soon jointhe international association of film archives; Jenkins also hopesto raise its public profile. He comes to Harvard after 14 yearsas curator of film and video at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolisand with a Ph.D. in radio, television, and film from Northwestern.His academic specialty is experimental and avant-garde films,of which he cites one "gorgeous" example: Stan Brakhage'sMothlight, made sans camera, using "nothing but moth wings,blades of grass, and leaves pressed between strips of Mylar."He notes that "Hollywood is the dominant cinema, but it'snot the only cinema and certainly not the most interesting cinema.Some of the greatest films ever made have been done by individuals--andfor very little money." For pleasure he enjoys reading, bicycling--andfilm festivals. "This has been the century of cinema,"he says. "Today, a film archive is what a classics departmentwas a hundred years ago. Cinema is the Rosetta Stone of a cultureincreasingly based on moving images."


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