University of Rochester

University of Rochester, George Eastman House Embark on New Initiative
Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation Combines Study at Both Institutions

June 23, 2004

Rochester, N.Y.—The University of Rochester and the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film have announced the creation of the Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation, the first museum and university collaboration of its kind encompassing both curatorship and film studies.

The program builds upon the Selznick School's film preservation and restoration program by offering a two-year curriculum that incorporates academic coursework at the University. Starting with the 2005-2006 academic year, students applying to the Selznick School will have the option of enrolling in the one-year certificate program or in the two-year graduate program leading to a Master of Arts degree from the University of Rochester.

"For many years, film curators from the Eastman House have served as adjunct faculty at the University, and this new initiative strengthens the programmatic ties between the two institutions," said Thomas J. LeBlanc, University of Rochester Vice Provost and Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the College Faculty. "Combining academic work with technical hands-on experience, this new program fills a particular niche in film study and preservation both inside and outside of academia."

Located on the estate of Kodak founder George Eastman, the father of popular photography and inventor of motion picture film, Eastman House is one of the most important film archives in the world, housing 25,000 film titles and three million pieces of film-related publicity stills, posters, scores, scripts, and pre-cinema artifacts. Its Selznick School, established by L. Jeffrey Selznick, son of famed film producer David O. Selznick, is the world's first permanent school of film preservation and is regarded as the premier venue of professional training in film preservation, restoration, and archiving.

"With a decade of experience acquired by the talented staff and instructors of the Selznick School, and the longtime partnership between George Eastman House and the University of Rochester, the Selznick Graduate Program will promote and develop the standards of excellence established since 1996 by the Selznick School," said Anthony Bannon, director of George Eastman House. "We are grateful to the Louis B. Mayer Foundation and to all our sponsors in the United States and worldwide for sharing our enthusiasm in a project which has positively reshaped the profile of the archival field."

Students in the film preservation and restoration program are immersed in the archives of Eastman House, working closely with staff to earn hands-on training experience in the maintenance, care, and storage of motion pictures. Last year the Eastman House restored more than 500 reels of film. The collection includes silent films, documentaries, and American classics, plus the personal archives of Cecil B. DeMille and Martin Scorsese.

Students in the second year of the Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation will be based in the Department of English at the University of Rochester. They will be able to choose from courses in film and media theory, history, and criticism as well as in visual and cultural studies for their additional year of study, leading to a master's degree in English with a concentration in film studies. The University is one of the nation's leading private universities known for its innovative interdisciplinary study opportunities. Students interact closely with faculty—who include a MacArthur Foundation ("Genius Grant") recipient—and have access to resources at the University's other divisions such as the Memorial Art Gallery and the Eastman School of Music.

"This is a demanding program designed to test a student's initiative, discipline, and commitment," said Paolo Cherchi Usai, founder and director of the Selznick program and adjunct professor of English and of film studies at the University. "We have a responsibility towards the institutions hiring our graduates. Selznick alumni are now in charge of preservation in moving image archives and laboratories worldwide, from the Netherlands to Japan, from Great Britain to the United States. We are fully committed to keep and further develop the highest standards in our field."

New technologies play a crucial role in both the Selznick certificate and graduate programs. The Digital Restoration Laboratory was established at the George Eastman House in 2003, and students restore films and exhibit the results of their work every year in festivals and professional meetings. Faculty members in the University's English department are spearheading the creation of major web-based research collections such as the William Blake Archive and The Camelot Project.

The Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation is supported by the Louis B. Mayer Foundation and other sponsors ranging from film laboratories in the United States and Europe to major moving image archives in several countries.

Applications to the Selznick Graduate Program in Film and Media Preservation are being accepted for the academic year 2005-2006. Yearly enrollment will be kept within a maximum of 15 students, with a cap of seven graduate students from the University of Rochester. For more information, contact Jeffrey L. Stoiber, Administrator, The L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, George Eastman House, 900 East Ave., Rochester, NY 14607; or at (585) 271-3361 ext. 333; or email or on the web at

Note to Editors: High-resolution images of Selznick School students working with the Eastman House motion picture collection can be found at