2003 Academy Member
The 70mm Newsletter
by: Howard Rust
Keith Swadkins accepting the 2003 certificate from John Belton, Howard
Rust and Thomas Hauerslev.
Picture by Paul Rayton.
In October 1985, in Christchurch, New Zealand, a group of movie enthusiasts got together and formed the “International Cinerama Society”. It was the direct result of the recent closure of the last known Cinerama theatre still possessing the unique projection and sound equipment, together with a complete set of three-strip films. The fact that everything had been deliberately destroyed became the incentive to try and trace what, if anything remained of Cinerama. What they discovered was its virtual annihilation. Thus began a worldwide search for anything connected with Cinerama that had survived.
An Englishman, a true Cinerama enthusiast, took on the task virtually single-handedly. This was before computers and the Internet. All correspondence traveled either by surface or airmail, the cost of which all came out of his own pockets. He made contacts all over the world, and was eventually deluged by programs, technical data, recordings and promotional material. Determined to stimulate and sustain interest in Cinerama, he typed, edited, and then had printed a newsletter that he posted to similarly minded enthusiasts, again at his own expense.
He then embarked on the enormous task of compiling a list of every Cinerama theatre in the world. It recorded the date that Cinerama was installed…the play dates of every Cinerama movie screened…the date to transfer to 70mm…the date the theatre closed, and finally what became of it, (usually a parking lot).
While on a trip to California, our nominee was granted an interview with the president of the Cinerama Corporation, Michael Forman, whose father William Forman had lost millions trying to save the company. Although it had retained the name and the familiar logo, the company had since diversified, with the emphasis on the hotel business. The news of a proposed revival of Cinerama in a museum in England was not music in Forman’s ears. The company had finally got rid of it and here was this crazy Englishman trying to resurrect it.
However, after some consideration, and the assurance that no money from Cinerama Inc. would be involved, he consented to a print being made from the original negatives of “This is Cinerama”. The reels of the film were discovered in a vault beneath the Los Angeles freeway, where it had been stored for thirty or more years. They were NOT in good condition, but somehow the money was raised to make an acceptable print.
The ultimate goal of the International Cinerama Society was to re-create and authentic, three projector, seven-track sound Cinerama installation. The enduring efforts of our nominee have been greatly significant in achieving that goal … the theatre in which we are now sitting.
I am delighted to invite Keith Swadkins to accept this nomination.
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