Saving Brinton (with filmmakers)

Opens Oct 18, 2018

October 18 only! Followed by a conversation with the filmmakers.

In a farmhouse basement on the Iowa countryside, eccentric collector and beloved history teacher Mike Zahs makes a remarkable discovery: the centuries-old showreels of the man who brought moving pictures to America's Heartland. Among the treasures: rare footage of President Teddy Roosevelt, the first moving images from Burma, a lost relic from magical effects godfather Georges Méliés. These are the films that introduced movies to the world. And they didn't end up in Iowa by accident. The old nitrate reels are just some of the artifacts that belonged to William Franklin Brinton. As Mike uncovers this hidden legacy, he begins a journey to restore the Brinton name, restore the reels, and to premiere the films at the world's oldest continuously operating movie theatre. Saving Brinton is a portrait of this unlikely Midwestern folk hero.

"Everything the Brintons used was passed down through the family until 1981, when it arrived at Zahs’ front door. He packed all the ephemera away into what he calls his 'Brinton room', while the films themselves were sent to the Library of Congress, which duplicated about two-thirds of them, quickly and simply, and sent the 16mm copies back to Zahs. The remaining third they apparently sent back to Zahs through the US mail, in a box labelled 'explosive'. Those original nitrate films, which are highly flammable, were stored alongside the 16mm films in a shed. It’s amazing that they survived.

The 16mm copies were safe to project, and so Zahs did. He started the Brinton film festival in Ainsworth, Iowa (population: about 600), where he would show the slides and the films to audiences that might never otherwise have dreamed of watching a silent film projection."(How did some of cinema's greatest films end up in an Iowa shed? The Guardian)