Our Amazing Tales program started life in 2006 to highlight the importance of film preservation and to provide insight into the remarkable work done by film archives around the world. Since then it has become one of the most highly anticipated programs of the festival. And it’s free!
This year’s presentations:
A GREAT NOISE
Chicago-based musician NICHOLAS WHITE has amassed an enormous number of antique “traps” (whistles, blocks, bells, ratchets, anvils, used for live Foley) and will demonstrate the lost art of creating live sound effects in silent cinema.
When author, scholar MINDY JOHNSON came across the earliest surviving hand-drawn animation animated and directed by a woman, she was able to return animation pioneer Bessie Mae Kelley to her rightful place in film history. Johnson will detail the years-long search that led to her discovery.
KYLE WESTPHAL (Chicago Film Society) presents the discovery, Doll Messengers of Friendship, a 1927 short documentary about a cultural exchange between the US and Japan after WWI. Westphal will present the 9-minute fragment that Chicago Film Society preserved in 35mm, with the support of the National Film Preservation Foundation.
Image: Drawing from a series featuring the character Colonel Heeza Liar, which ran from 1913–17 and 1922–24, that Bessie Mae Kelley worked on.
Courtesy Manitou Productions
Amazing Tales Presenters
Kyle Westphal (left) is a programmer and preservationist at Chicago Film Society, a non-profit organization dedicated to keeping analog film exhibition accessible and sustainable.
Originally from the Chicago, Nicholas White (center) studied classical music performance for eight years both at Boston University and Boston Conservatory. By the time he had returned to Chicago, he had already collected the largest collection of antique drummer’s sound effects instruments (known as “traps) in the world. What had begun as a small hobby, soon found White being an expert in how these specialized instruments were used and how to design the soundscape of a silent film screening today—recreating perfectly what was once reality in 1914. Delighting film audiences with famed theater organist Jay Warren, he was invited to Germany perform vibraphone and sound effects with The Philharmonisches Orchester Regansburg, and in 2022 showcased his skills and collection in a scene from Martin Scorcese’s Killers of The Flower Moon.
Award-winning author, historian, filmmaker, educator, musician and more, Mindy Johnson’s (right) creative accomplishments reflect the diversity of her talents and experience. A leading expert on women’s roles in animation and film history, Mindy writes and speaks on early cinema, animation, women’s history, and creativity. A recipient of the prestigous ASIFA-Hollywood June Foray “Annie” Award, given to individuals who’ve made a significant and benevolent or charitable impact on the art and industry of animation. Mindy’s honors also include the Academy’s Film Scholar Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences. and the ASIFA-Hollywood AFF Grant for continued research and writing on the contributions of the earliest women within our collective animated past.