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Breaking News! In December 2022, we transferred our 7600 film legacy archive and ephemera to Johns Hopkins University (JHU), where it will be a cornerstone of their Film Studies program. Read an interview (Saving a Film Genre) about the donation with AFA director Geoff Alexander and see a one-minute short film about the collection. The AFA will continue accepting donated films, documenting their history, and operating this website. When newly arrived films are completely documented, they will be shipped to JHU to join the master archive.
The mission of The Academic Film Archive of North America is to acquire, preserve, document, and promote academic film by providing an archive, resource, and forum for continuing scholarly advancement and public exhibition.
We're the only institution in the U.S. dedicated solely to documenting the history of the 16mm classroom academic film. We also document and archive historically important films not specifically in the academic genre, including anthropological, ethnographic, and medical subjects. We engage in a number of special research projects, and invite you to help us to save films and provide free access to them on the Internet Archive, by nominating a film and making a donation to fund uploading it. We're a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit organization, and we welcome your donations.
What is "academic film"? Of the more than 100,000 educational films made in North America between the early 1900s and approximately 1985, many of the most compelling were in the subject fields of art, history, social science, literature, and science. These we refer to as academic films, as opposed to those made in health, safety, civics, and other non-academic educational subject areas. Further definition of the Academic film genre can be found here.
Why is academic film important? With the launching of Sputnik in late 1957, millions of dollars in federal funds soon became available to academic film companies, as government and education officials desperately raced to bring American students to an academic level above that of their Soviet counterparts. Federal funds flowing to academic filmmakers via film companies represented the greatest governmental largesse ever bestowed on makers of non-feature films. In a capitalist country, it was very nearly socialist.
Many of the films are exceptional cinema, made by filmmakers who, primarily for financial reasons, elected to make 16mm academic films, rather chancing the vicissitudes of Hollywood. This is a hidden corner of North American cinema, and you've arrived at the only website dedicated to the history and preservation of these films, and the biographies and filmographies of their director/producers. Want to save a film by sponsoring a film for digitization and uploading? It's easy, inexpensive, and tax deductable. Click on our Save A Film page.
Special Projects The AFA engages in occasional special projects beyond the immediate scope of the archive. We were the first institution in the Western world to research and document aspects of Morlam video CDs from the Isaan area of Thailand. We are also compiling a history of radio station KTAO, which was developed by Lorenzo Milam in the town of Los Gatos, CA in the early 1970s. We still have a limited number of our Gene Deitch-designed T-shirts available, too. Read AFA's interview with the late novelist Elmore Leonard about his years writing screenplays for educational filmmaker Bill Deneen.
AFA's "Academy Leader" logo was designed thanks to Joe Sikoryak, of designWELL: http://www.designwell.com/