by Arlen Parsa
Not long ago at Groundswell Educational Films (the nonprofit where I work) we paid a visit to J. Fred MacDonald’s archival film collection here in Chicago. Fred’s archive, which included millions of feet of old films was an incredible thing to see for a budding documentary-filmmaker like myself. On the day we visited him he was just about to donate his collection to the Library of Congress and retire from the historical film repository/stock footage business.
We caught him before he donated the material and talked to him about one of his projects, the American Indian Film Gallery, which will continue on the web, retirement or no. Here’s the video we put together introducing visitors to Fred’s online Native American film collection. It was a lot of fun to shoot in such an extraordinary environment but I must say it was also a little sad knowing that such an incredible collection was leaving Chicago for good. But hopefully the Library of Congress will make it accessible to researchers and filmmakers for generations to come.