MISSING MOVIES

Missing Movies empowers filmmakers, distributors, archivists, and others to locate lost materials, clear rights, and advocate for policies and laws to make the full range of our cinema history available to all.

What is a “missing movie”?

The simplest definition is a movie that cannot be seen by the general public in the most accessible, legally available formats.

In 2022, this would be a movie that is not available on any streaming service. It might be a film that has physically disappeared but also includes films that are only available on VHS, out-of-print DVD, 16mm or 35mm print. In all these cases, the films are “missing” from the public discourse.

Why do movies go “missing”?

Generally, there are five reasons:

1. NO CURRENT DISTRIBUTOR: The film no longer has a distributor. This can take several forms: the company holding those rights is defunct – dissolved or bankrupt. Bankruptcy may mean the film’s rights are tied up in court proceedings. The other possibility is that the distribution deal had a term that has expired so the film is in “distribution limbo.”

2. LOST ELEMENTS: The original elements required for distributing the film are missing or their whereabouts unknown. They may be sitting in a vault somewhere, at an archive, or they could literally have been discarded to make room on the shelf for other materials.

3. LOST RIGHTS: The legal rights to distribute the film are unclear or tied up in litigation or there is music or film clips or other third-party rights in the film whose rights are not cleared which can make the whole film un-releasable.

4. DISTRIBUTOR INDIFFERENCE: The film has an identifiable distributor who may or may not have all of the materials and the rights to exploit the film but chooses not to. The reasons may have to do with the film’s content (deemed inappropriate or ‘not commercial’) or, in most cases, the there’s an unwillingness to spend the tens of thousands of dollars necessary to upgrade the film to current technological standards (i.e. a 2K or 4K digital conversion) for use in cinemas, streaming, disc or television).

5. NEVER HAD A DISTRIBUTOR: The film may have been selected to film festivals or not but it was never able to attract a distributor. The materials may be in the possession of the filmmaker, at a lab, or have gone missing. The underlying rights (story, clips, music, etc.) also may or may not have been cleared.

Any particular Missing Movie may have a combination of these problems. Rights may be unclear and materials missing. Music rights may be unclear and the film is tied up in bankruptcy or litigation, etc. etc.

It’s important to understand that this information is often completely unknown to the filmmakers – directors and producers alike – or it is extremely difficult to find out.

The “Missing Movies” Manifesto

Movie audiences are being told that streaming has made the entire history of cinema available for a simple subscription fee — or at least a couple of dozen subscription fees.

This is not true.

As an ad hoc group of film lovers and professionals, we have come together to create Missing Movies to empower filmmakers, distributors, archivists, and others to locate lost materials, clear rights, and advocate for policies and laws to make the full range of our cinema history available to all.

There is an immediate need to address this issue. The truth is that movies are simply not as available today as they were during the heyday of VHS when some brick-and-mortar video stores carried tens of thousands of titles. Now, with a few giant companies controlling the most popular streaming services and trying to outdo one another with original content, many older movies are being left behind.

Thousands of movies are either completely lost or are deemed too small to warrant the expense, and thus are completely unavailable. This is especially true of work created by women and members of the BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and disability communities. As a result, we end up with a skewed history of filmmaking and crucial gaps in our cultural knowledge and legacy.

Missing Movies will work to demystify and help decipher the economic, legal, and practical hurdles that filmmakers face when they want to make their older works available. Those challenges include:

●       researching contractual rights that may have been agreed to decades ago (sometimes with companies that no longer exist),

●       deciphering underlying rights,

●       locating master film materials (which may have originally been stored in labs that have gone out of business),

●       creating high-def digital transfers.

In addition, all filmmakers need to make sure that their work is properly archived and preserved for the future.

Missing Movies’ long-term goal is to preserve a critical and beloved art form — one that is vitally important to the history of our time. To that end, we plan to advocate for revisions in copyright law and for changes in some industry standards for working with filmmakers.

We seek to formally create a non-profit organization that can facilitate and fund these efforts. To start, Missing Movies will focus on American independent films — including features, documentaries, shorts, and experimental films — but we hope to broaden our scope as work progresses.

Missing Movies looks forward to working with like-minded organizations, including specialty streamers, archives, festivals, distributors, film labs, trade unions, foundations, and a wide range of filmmakers, to find effective solutions to this critical, often-ignored problem.

The immediate goals of Missing Movies are to:

●       Bring this issue to the attention of the public, filmmakers, and other stakeholders.

●       Identify films that fall into this category.

●       Create a guide to help filmmakers research individual films.

●       Create a set of FAQs to respond to common problems.

●       Collect case studies of films that have recently successfully dealt with these issues.

●       Create a website to publish the above information and to interact with filmmakers, cinephiles and the press.

Board of Directors

Mary Harron
Nancy Savoca
Ira Deutchman
Richard Guay (Treasurer)

Amy Heller (Co-President)
Dennis Doros (Co-President)
Sue Bodine

Advisory Group

List of Missing Movies

This is a small sample of missing movies. We will be adding to it over time. If you know of others, let us know.

Agee (1980, directed by Ross Spears)

Ali, the Fighter (1975, directed by Bill Greaves)

Angela Davis: Portrait of a Revolutionary (1971, directed by Yolande DuLuart)

Angelo My Love (1983 directed by Robert Duvall)

Angels and Insects (1995, directed by Philip Has)

Annihilation of Fish (1999, directed by Charles Burnett)

Baby Face Nelson (1957, Don Siegel)

Black Girl (1972, directed by Ossie Davis)

The Cool World (1964, directed by Shirley Clarke)

Deadhead Miles (1972, directed by Vernon Zimmerman)
FOUND! Restored and coming in 2023.

Eat the Document (1972, directed by D.A. Pennebaker and Bob Dylan)

Gal Young ‘Un (1979, directed by Victor Nuñez)

The Heartbreak Kid (1972, directed by Elaine May)

That Rhythm, Those Blues (1988, directed by George T. Nierenberg)

Home of the Brave (1986, directed by Laurie Anderson)

Household Saints (1993, directed by Nancy Savoca)

I Shot Andy Warhol (1996, directed by Mary Harron)

Image before my Eyes (1981, directed by Joshua Waletzky)

Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985, directed by Hector Babenco)
FOUND! Cleared and coming soon.

Lanton Mills (1969, directed by Terrence Malick)

Lulu on the Bridge (1989, directed by Paul Auster)

The Marijuana Affair (1975, directed by Bill Greaves)

The Memory of Justice (1976, directed by Marcel Ophuls)

Mississippi Masala (1991, directed by Mira Nair)
FOUND! Cleared and Available at Criterion.

My Architect (2003, directed by Nathanial Kahn)

Nothing but Common Sense (1972, St. Clair Bourne)

The Savage Eye (1959, directed by Ben Maddow, Sidney Meyers, Joseph Strick)

Titus (1999, directed by Julie Taymor)

Trial of the Catonsville Nine (1972, directed by Gordon Davidson)

True Love (1989, directed by Nancy Savoca)
FOUND! Cleared and coming soon.

Union City (1980, directed by Marcus Reichert)

Weapons of the Spirit (1987, directed by Pierre Sauvage)

The Weavers: Wasn’t that a Time (1981, directed by Jim Brown)

Board of Directors

Dennis Doros (Co-President)

Dennis Doros started working in cinema in 1979 as the President of the Athens Film Society at Ohio University and soon afterward was promoted to the programmer for the Athens International Film Festival. In 1984, he started working at Kino International where he restored Queen Kelly and Sadie Thompson, both starring Gloria Swanson. In 1990, Doros co-founded Milestone Films with his wife Amy Heller. Working with film archives and labs around the world, they have restored and distributed independent films, including works by Charles Burnett, Billy Woodberry, Kathleen Collins, Ayoka Chenzira, David Hockney, Kent Mackenzie, Eleanor Antin, Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman. For the last fourteen years, he has been a consultant to Turner Classic Movies. Dennis and Amy have been awarded the Arthouse Convergence Spotlight Lifetime Achievement Award, Denver Silent Film Festival Career Achievement Award, National Society of Film Critics’ Special Archival Award and its Film Heritage Award (five times), the NY Film Critics Circle’s Special Award (twice), the LA Film Critics Legacy of Cinema Award and the Film Preservation Honor from Anthology Film Archive. He is a 24-year member of AMIA and a four-term member of the Board of Directors. He recently completed two more terms as AMIA’s President and was the winner of AMIA’s 2016 William O’Farrell Award.

Amy Heller (Co-President)

Amy Heller is co-founder (with husband Dennis Doros) of Milestone Films, an independent distribution and restoration company. After studying American history at New York University and Yale, she began her career in film distribution in 1985 at First Run Features and later at New Yorker Films. Heller and her newlywed husband started Milestone in 1990 in a their one-bedroom New York City apartment. For the last 22 years they have run the company from their New Jersey home.

Committed to rediscovering and restoring lost, overlooked, and underappreciated films, with a focus on those made by and about women, African Americans, and members of the LGBTQ+ community, Milestone’s releases include Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep; Kent Mackenzie’s The Exiles; Lionel Rogosin’s Come Back, Africa; and the films of Shirley Clarke. The company has received awards from the National Society of Film Critics, the International Film Seminars, the New York Film Critics Circle, the Fort Lee Film Commission, Anthology Film Archive, the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and the Art House Convergence.

Heller has written about challenging and expanding the cinematic canon for the Walker Art Center’s Soundboard and Caligari magazine. She is a founding member of Missing Movies, an organization dedicated to educating and advocating about the problem of lost films and to working with filmmakers and the entertainment industry to making these titles available.

Richard Guay (Treasurer)

Richard Guay is an independent producer, writer and consultant based in New York. He began his career as a CPA and has worked for 37 years as a producer, writer, studio executive, and production accountant. True Love, Guay’s first producing effort which he also co-wrote, won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. He has been nominated for three Independent Spirit Awards – two for Best Feature Film (True Love & Ghost Dog) and one for Best Screenplay (as co-writer of Household Saints). He was also nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Best Long Form Original Teleplay as co-writer of Dirt. Guay has worked with a range of directors from first timers to industry veterans Nancy Savoca, Jonathan Demme, Bill Condon and Jim Jarmusch. Guay was a Vice President at Entertainment Partners for five years. He has also conducted producing workshops around the world, as well as at NYU, Columbia and City College of New York where he currently teaches in the MFA program. His latest film, Clover, directed by Jon Abrahams was released in April 2020.

Sue Bodine

Bodine is a partner at Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard, a bi-coastal law firm dedicated to media and entertainment.  She represents a diverse clientele in the motion picture, television, and digital media industries. Her clients include major and specialty motion picture studios, cable television networks, media lenders, private equity financiers, as well as production and distribution companies, and individual directors, writers, and producers.

Over the several decades of her legal career she has been honored numerous years as a New York Super Lawyer, named by Variety as a Woman of Impact in the Entertainment Industry, and an Elite Deal Maker, and a Power Lawyer by Hollywood Reporter multiple times.

She has taught Entertainment Law as an adjunct professor at NYU Law School, and University of New Hampshire,s Franklin Pierce Intellectual Property Institute and has presented at many seminars, conferences, and film festivals including, for the WGA, DGA, PGA, AFM, Sundance, SXSW, Berlinale, Guadalajara, DOC NYC, Ventana Sur, and Rio Content Market.

Ira Deutchman

Ira Deutchman has been making, marketing and distributing films since 1975, having worked on over 150 films including some of the most successful independent films of all time. He was one of the founders of Cinecom and later created Fine Line Features—two companies that were created from scratch and, in their respective times, helped define the independent film business. He was also a co-founder of Emerging Pictures, the first digital projection network in the United States and a pioneer in delivering live cultural events into movie theaters.

Currently Deutchman is an independent producer, and a consultant in marketing and distribution of independent films. He is also Professor Emeritus in the School of the Arts at Columbia University, where he has taught since 1987 and was the Chair of the Film Program from 2011-2015.

His current projects include serving as producer of Nickel & Dimed, based on the book by Barbara Ehrenreich and directed by Debra Granik (in pre-production), director/producer of the feature documentary Searching for Mr. Rugoff” (currently in release) and producer of the stage adaptation of Joan Micklin Silver’s Hester Street (in development).

In 2017, Deutchman was awarded the Spotlight Lifetime Achievement Award by the Sundance Art House Convergence for his service to independent film marketing and distribution.

Mary Harron

One of the most distinctive voices of the independent film movement of the last twenty years, Harron made her debut as a feature-film writer and director in 1996 with I Shot Andy Warhol. The film won star Lili Taylor a Special Jury Award at the Sundance Film Festival, and garnered nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards and London Film Critics Circle for best first feature. In 2000, she directed American Psycho, starring Christian Bale, followed by The Notorious Bettie Page in 2006 and The Moth Diaries in 2011. Her most recent film, Charlie Says, debuted in September 2018 at the Venice Film Festival and was released in Spring 2019. Harron has also directed highly distinguished TV dramas, including episodes of The L Word, Oz, and Six Feet Under, as well as the entire award-winning Netflix series Alias Grace. Her latest film, DaliLand, starring Ben Kingsley and Barbara Sukowa, will be released later this year.

Nancy Savoca

Along with her numerous festival screenings and honors, Savoca’s films True Love and Household Saints are listed in The New York Times Guide to the Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made, and True Love was named one of the “50 Greatest Independent Films of All Time” by Entertainment Weekly. HBO’s If These Walls Could Talk won multiple Emmy and Golden Globe nominations and Women in Film’s Lucy award. Reno: Rebel Without a Pause (Unrestrained Reflections on September 11th) was awarded the Seal for Peace & Liberty by the City of Florence, Italy and Dirt, a Spanish-English dramedy about class and immigration won Best Director at LA’s Latino Film Festival and a Writer’s Guild nomination. In 2019, Savoca’s archives were acquired by University of Michigan’s Film Mavericks Collection which holds the works of Orson Welles, Robert Altman, and her mentors John Sayles and Jonathan Demme.

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