$12 General Admission
Collector Mike Zahs, subject of Saving Brinton, and Hannah Palin, Film Archives Specialist at the UW Libraries Special Collections, will join us for a post-screening Q&A on Wednesday, July 25!
In an Iowa countryside basement, collector Mike Zahs has unearthed, curated, and restored a long-lost collection of cinematic treasures – once owned and operated by William Franklin Brinton in the early 1900s – and has taken it upon himself to bring them back into the spotlight.
Among the treasures, Zahs has rare footage of President Teddy Roosevelt, the first moving images from Burma, and a lost relic from Georges Méliès. But the old nitrate reels are just some of the artifacts that belonged to Brinton. From thousands of trinkets, handwritten journals, receipts, posters, and catalogs, emerges the story of an inventive farm boy who became America’s greatest barnstorming movieman. Saving Brinton is a portrait of this unlikely hero, celebrating living simply but dreaming big.
“It’s clear five minutes into Saving Brinton that the line between hoarder and preservationist really is fine. It’s also clear that you need sensitive, humane filmmaking to insist that one is very different from the other. The average documentary would gawk. This one reclassifies: One person’s pack rat is another’s collector. And Michael Zahs, this movie’s sturdily built, mighty bearded subject, does indeed collect.” – Wesley Morris, The New York Times
The Brinton Collection contains films, slides, projectors, papers, and other documents from the life and career of William Franklin Brinton of Washington, IA. Brinton was an itinerant showman, traveling from Texas to Minnesota to project slides, film, and stage other entertainments during the years 1895-1909. He was also the manager of the Graham Opera House in Washington, which is still an active movie theater today and was recently declared the longest continually operating cinema in the world. Brinton was an eccentric and energetic individual, and the collection not only preserves some of the earliest commercially available film, it also contains material related to Brinton’s experimental interests, such as his passion for designing flying machines long before human flight became a reality.
The collection was preserved for many years by Michael Zahs, subject of the new documentary film Saving Brinton. The collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries beginning in 2014.