Historical Artifact Film 'Lord Thing' Restored by Chicago Film Archives
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Historical Artifact Film 'Lord Thing' Restored by Chicago Film Archives

nullOne of the

most unexpected stories in the film world this year was the surprise hit of the

newly restored 1970 documentary "Lord Thing." The film, which chronicles the transformation of the notorious West Side Chicago street gang, the Conservative

Vice Lords into a political force, played to sold out houses in various venues, which is not bad for a 44 year old film, which had not been seen in literally

decades.

The restoration

work was done by the Chicago Film Archives, which was awarded a grant in 2012 from

the National Film Preservation Foundation, to preserve two 16mm films that

document the activities and social-political transformation of the Vice Lords.

And the Chicago

Film Archive, which, this week will be celebrating its tenth anniversary, is a unique intuition whose mission is to preserve and catalogue thousands of films including

documentaries, experimental, news footage, educational, industrial and even

home movies.

These

forgotten films were donated by various sources, including museums, libraries, archivists and film collectors, and they chronicle

some aspect of Midwest life and culture, including urban life, the arts, sports and

more, from the earliest 20th century, to today.

Founded by

Nancy Watrous, who is the Archive’s current executive director, the archive

houses some 20,000 films (the earliest being from 1903) and over 100 individual

film collections.

And needless

to say, many of the films in the Archive’s collection deal with issues related to black people, from family life, culture, urban strife, politics and civil rights; like the 1966 film, "Cicero March," which documents Martin Luther King Jr.’s trip to Cicero, IL, just

across the Chicago city limits, to push for fair housing. However, he

and his supporters were met with such a viciousness and hostility in Cicero, and Chicago, that even Dr. King

himself said was worse than what he had encountered in the South. The film was

selected last December to join the list of films in the National Film Registry, for being of significant historical and cultural importance.

Which brings

up a subject that I have brought up before – that so many older films dealing with

black life and culture, whether professional or amateur, are slowly being lost

due to neglect; something must be done to save and preserve them, or else entire

generations of black history will be lost forever.

Fortunately, the Chicago Film Archives is doing extraordinarily

important and necessary work to preserve, maintain these

films for future generations, so that the national heritage, including the African American experience, will have access to a still vibrant look into

our past.

You can check out the Archives’ website HERE. Take a look

at Cicero March below:

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