September 23, 1999
National Archives to Preserve Frank Capra Film Series
College Park, MD. . . The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) announced that it has received a $44,622 grant to preserve the seven-part World War II troop orientation film series "Why We Fight", produced by Frank Capra. The grant is part of a $200,000 initiative from the Pew Charitable Trusts to support Treasures of American Film Archives, a collaborative project organized by the National Film Preservation Foundation in celebration of the year 2000.
The grant money will be used to inspect and restore the picture and sound portions of the classic documentaries/training films. These films have not undergone close technical examination since they were transferred from their flammable cellulose nitrate base material in the 1970's. New copies will be created on polyester-base film whose long-term preservation characteristics meet NARA's preservation policy goals.
Dr. Michael Kurtz, Assistant Archivist for Records Services--Washington, DC said, " We are grateful to the National Film Preservation Foundation and the Pew charitable Trusts for making this generous grant. The money will enable NARA to restore these historic documentaries to their original appearance as they were seen by audiences during the war. Restoration would not be possible without these funds."
The "Why We Fight" series consists of seven World War II films that revolutionized, not only documentary filmmaking throughout the world, but also the way in which troops were indoctrinated. For the first time, films were used to teach lessons of war and politics for the benefit of troops and later for the public. The films were shown to troops around the world and were translated into four foreign languages. After the war, the films were shown at American embassies in occupied countries.
The National Archives and Records Administration is the nation's record keeper. An independent agency created by statute in 1934, NARA safeguards records of all three branches of the Federal Government. Its mission is to ensure that Federal officials and the American public have ready access to essential evidence--records that document the rights of citizens, the actions of government officials, and the national experience.
The Pew Charitable Trusts supports nonprofit activities in the areas of culture, education, the environment, health and human services, public policy and religion. Based in Philadelphia, the Trusts make strategic investments to help organizations and citizens develop practical solutions to difficult problems. The National Film Preservation Foundation was established by Congress to encourage public-private solutions for film preservation. This grant represents the first private funding made available to NARA for the preservation of the American documentary film heritage.
For additional PRESS information, please contact the National Archives Public Affairs staff at (301) 837-1700 or by e-mail.