Norman McLaren’s Films Added to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register

Norman McLarenAs the CBC reports, “The UNESCO Memory of the World Register has selected McLaren’s films to be held in its heritage collection of the most significant world cultural artifacts.

“McLaren’s Oscar-winning anti-war film Neighbours is among 82 films and 52 film tests to be preserved.”

The Memory of the World program is aimed at the “preservation and dissemination of valuable archive holdings and library collections worldwide.”

In addition to McLaren’s films, other additions include the Diaries of Anne Frank, Song of the Nibelungs, and the Magna Carta. Other film-related material added this year includes the John Marshall Ju/’hoan Bushman Film and Video Collection, 1950-2000 and NRWA Photo and Film Archives of Palestinian Refugees.  A list of this year’s additions can be found here.

Other film-related added in the past includes: Fritz Lang’s Metropolis, the Tait Brothers’ The Story of the Kelly Gang (Australia, 1906) (the first feature film made), Victor Fleming’s The Wizard of Oz, the Ingmar Bergman Archives,Luis Buñuel’s Los olvidados (The Young and the Damned), Lumière Films, Roald Amundsen’s South Pole Expedition (1910-1912) and The Battle of the Somme (1916). A full  list of Registered Heritage can be found here.

The CBC further notes:

The Audio-Visual Preservation Trust of Canada, which protects Canada’s film and video heritage, nominated the collection for preservation by UNESCO.

The bid was supported by groups such as the International Association of Sound and Audiovisual Archives, the British Film Institute, the Toronto International Film Festival, the Film Studies Association of Canada and the Museum of Modern Art, which holds an archive of McLaren works.

Neighbours and other McLaren classics can be viewed at the NFB’s online screening room.

(Thanks to Karl Cohen.)

Correction: The CBC report which I initially relied on was in error in saying, “The UNESCO Memory of the World Register has selected McLaren’s films to be held in its heritage collection of the most significant world cultural artifacts.” Instead the honor was reserved for just Neighbours. As its website noted:

Norman McLaren is the most influential animator in the history of the art of animation. Over many years of constant groundbreaking research and experimentation he has created a coherent and extraordinary body of work with a unique inventiveness. This is best exemplified by his most important film, the anti-war parable Neighbours.

Author: Harvey Deneroff

Harvey Deneroff is a Los Angeles-based independent animation and film scholar specializing in labor history. He formerly taught at the Savannah College of Art and Design and was editor of Animation Magazine, Animation World Magazine, and Graiffit (published by ASIFA-Hollywood). He is the founder and past president of the Society for Animation Studies.

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