The American Genre Film Archive Needs Your Help

Do you like rare 35mm prints of kickass horror movies? Of course you do!

The American Genre Film Archive is responsible for contributing the prints for nearly every Weird Wednesday and Terror Tuesday screening the Alamo Drafthouse has held for years. If you've never attended one of these screenigns, take my word for it: they're amazing, and they're what the Alamo is all about. 

And AGFA needs your help. 

The American Genre Film Archive (AGFA) is housed at a secret location in Austin, Texas and is home to the rarest and wildest exploitation and horror titles in cinema history!

As the digital era supplants 35mm film and studios let preservation fall by the wayside, a huge swath of movie history could disappear forever. Film prints have a limited lifespan. Like human beings, all prints are inevitably headed to the dumpster. However, with proper storage and care, we can prolong the lives of these prints and ensure that the movies themselves endure the ravages of time. AGFA preserves the orphan films that are moldering in storage units or being disposed of into the dark abyss of the ocean. Regardless of "artistic" merit, these movies are important. And fun! AGFA is here to give them a home.

The American Genre Film Archive specializes in horror, sleaze, action, and independent regional filmmaking, as well as international genre cinema with an emphasis on films from Hong Kong. Housing over 3,000 film prints, this non-profit archive counts among its board members and advisors Alamo Drafthouse founders Tim and Karrie League, filmmakers Nicolas Winding Refn and Paul Thomas Anderson, and Austin area film programmers and movie fans.

Access is a crucial part of preservation. These films are not meant to sit in a vault. They are meant to be played for audiences. These films come to life when audiences enjoy them. Every year, AGFA loans hundreds of prints to arthouse institutions, film societies, festivals, libraries, and universities. A fundamental component of the mission is to make sure that people actually see these movies.

For some titles, AGFA's print is the only one that exists. These fragile and endangered titles can't be safely loaned out due to risk of damage or of being lost. In order to share these nearly-extinct treasures, AGFA is undertaking a new initiative.

The mission is to complete 2K transfers of these endangered titles, and then create digital duplicates. In the future, AGFA will be able to carefully restore and strike new prints of films that are in danger of being lost. But for now, we want to make sure that they stay accessible for everyone. These films can be seen as frescos that are about to crumble off of walls without even having been documented. This initiative will essentialy photograph these frescos so they can be seen and shared. While AGFA is still dedicated to 35mm presentation, we want to make digital copies available of the rarest of the rare in our collection until full restorations can be made.

The very first film that AGFA is setting out to preserve is Craig Denny's THE ASTROLOGER (1975). Two films called THE ASTROLOGER were released in 1975 but Denny's is the most compelling and mystifying.

This self-financed movie stars Denny, a real-life astrologer. It concerns his (fictional) rise to fame as the personal star gazer to the President of the United States. Denny's character becomes so famous that he decides to make a film within the film called THE ASTROLOGER, which stars himself.

THE ASTROLOGER is an intensely strange time capsule and a vision from a unique voice in American cinema -- the self-produced madman. It's AGFA's duty to preserve incredible work like this. There's no other movie like THE ASTROLOGER. It deserves to be seen.

The American Genre Film Archive exists because of a tangible need. AGFA has saved prints from landfills, incinerators, and from literally being tossed into the sea. It serves as a sanctuary for endangered movies that no one cares about, but should.

Every act of heroism that goes into the maintenance of the collection is simply done by people who believe in AGFA and what the future of exploitation films can be. All of the work is done on a shoestring (or no-shoestring). AGFA needs your support to keep growing and save these films from disappearing.

Step forward, film lovers! Help AGFA save cinema! Now is the time to act! Even Superman needed to be raised by somebody. When that Krypton spaceship crashed, there was just a little baby in it. AGFA needs its own Ma and Pa Kent to step forward. It needs help to become the titanic mammoth that will save the world.

Contribute here. I did!