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Obituaries

James Card; Telluride Film Festival Co-Founder

January 21, 2000

James Card, 84, co-founder of the Telluride Film Festival and the film preservationist who created a motion picture archive at the George Eastman House museum. The Colorado film festival began in 1974 after the visiting Card, by then a highly respected film archivist, suggested that Telluride's newly renovated Sheridan Opera House would make an ideal site for such an event. His hosts, Bill and Stella Pence, and archivist Tom Luddy joined Card in hosting that first festival. A film buff from his youth, Card bought his first movie, a print of "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari," in Germany during his student days at the University of Heidelberg. By the late 1940s, he had collected 800 films. Card worked at Kodak in Rochester, N.Y., then became curator of Eastman House's film department in 1948, a year before the museum in the mansion of Eastman Kodak Co. founder George Eastman opened to the public. From the museum's inception until his retirement in 1977, Card built the collection and gave it an international identity. By the 1960s, he once said, he was receiving so many films from studios and elsewhere that he ran out of storage space and buried more than 300 films in the Eastman gardens. Card was particularly revered for his care and promotion of silent films, and for reviving interest in such silent movie stars as Louise Brooks. Card published a critically praised book, "Seductive Cinema: The Art of Silent Film," in 1994. "Card writes," said a San Francisco Chronicle review, "with the authority of someone who has seen all there is to see and is not out to ingratiate himself to lesser scholars." On Sunday in Syracuse, N.Y.

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