HRMA Films Go High Definition

We’ll Never Turn Back, Decision in the Streets and The Land Is Rich To Start Out

Three of Harvey Richards most widely sought after historic documentaries are now available in high definition. More film conversions are on their way.

We’ll Never Turn Back

Fannie Lou Hamer, 1963, Mississippi. A screen shot from "We'll Never Turn Back."

Fannie Lou Hamer, 1963, Mississippi. A screen shot from “We’ll Never Turn Back.”

Made in 1963 in Mississippi during the drive to register African Americans to vote in the face of segregationist laws, We’ll Never Turn Back contains unique footage of share croppers and voter registration activists telling their stories of heroism and hardship encountered in their fight to gain the right to vote in Mississippi in 1963. Fannie Lou Hamer tells her story of being evicted from the Marlow plantation where she had worked for 18 years.  Hollis Watkins sings freedom songs and speaks his mind. Julian Bond and Bob Moses tell about their goals and views of the situation in Mississippi.  The camera visits the family of Herbert Lee, murdered in 1962 for his attempts to register to vote.  Sharecroppers tell their stories in their own words.

The Land Is Rich

Cesar Chavez and Robert Kennedy, Delano, California, 1965. Screen shot from The Land Is Rich.

Cesar Chavez and Robert Kennedy, Delano, California, 1965. Screen shot from The Land Is Rich.

Harvey Richards produced The Land Is Rich (1966) to help support the United Farm Workers march to Sacramento in 1966 for the right to unionize for California farm workers. Starting out in Delano in March, 1966, marchers led by Cesar Chavez and a banner of the Virgin de Guadeloupe, walked for 340 miles, taking 15 miles per day, to Sacramento. The film includes shots of Robert Kennedy’s visit to Delano during his presidential campaign in 1965. It presents footage of the grape strike and other struggles that had led to the march. The sound track includes the songs of Luis Valdez recorded during the march.
Two of Harvey Richards photos from the march are now murals in  the Cesar Chavez National Monument in Keene, California.

Decision in the Streets

Mario Savio speaking during the 1964 Free Speech Movement protest at Sproul Hall. Screen shot from Decision in the Streets.

Mario Savio speaking during the 1964 Free Speech Movement. Screen shot from Decision in the Streets.

Decision in the Streets shows the tumultuous beginnings of the Bay Area civil rights and peace protest movement from 1960 to 1965. Segments include 1960’s anti-HUAC demonstrations; Hands-off-Cuba demonstrations during the Bay of Pigs invasion and Cuban missile crisis in 1962 and 1963; the 1963 march of 15,000 church and union people supporting Birmingham, Alabama bus desegregation boycott; mass arrests of protesters sitting in at the Sheraton Palace Hotel over racist hiring practices; the 1964 anti-Goldwater Republican convention protests; the Free Speech Movement at U.C. Berkeley, and others.

New Scans Directly from the 16 mm Film

Fulfilling a decades old plan, the Harvey Richards Media Archive is redoing the digitized versions of all films into high definition files. Going back to the film stock itself, modern scanning machines restore films with a process that can deliver six different types of high definition file formats in a single scan. The scanning work is being done in Los Angeles at the North Hollywood location of Producer’s Library Service through the courtesy of its owner, Jeff Goodman.

The original material in the Archive was 16 mm motion pictures, and 35mm and 120mm stills. When video format became popular, all the films were converted to video format. When the digital files replaced video with DVDs and mp3s, all the video masters were converted to miniDV and from there to .avi digital files. These master elements served well for a decade. Now, high definition has become standard. Rather than using the old video and miniDV formats, the new high definition versions in ProRes and 2k have been scanned directly from the original 16mm film elements, thus creating improved digital files in high definition that surpass all past master elements in quality and clarity.

 


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