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The Harvard Film Archive at 30

The Harvard Film Archive was founded in March, 1979 by an extraordinary trio – documentarian Robert Gardner, philosopher Stanley Cavell and film scholar Vlada Petric. Together the three successfully established the Archive as the center of film study at Harvard and the heart of university film culture by launching a cutting-edge cinematheque and laying the foundation for a superb film collection. During their respective careers Gardner, Cavell and Petric each left their indelible mark upon the HFA and the intellectual and artistic communities that if fostered. A pioneer of poetic ethnographic cinema, Gardner defined nonfiction cinema - documentary as well as avant-garde and animated film - as a central focus of HFA programming and collecting, bringing treasures into the Archive’s collection and establishing important relationships with a great number of major filmmakers and artists from around the world. One of the great American philosophers of today, Cavell is also celebrated as one of the very first to champion and insightfully argue for the place of cinema within the academy, through a series of now legendary classes on film and philosophy that would give way to such classic works as The World Viewed: Reflections on the Ontology of Film (1971) and Pursuits of Happiness: The Hollywood Comedy of Remarriage (1981). Cavell’s teaching and work in the cinema gave vital support to the mission and project of the Archive - and of film studies in general - during a period when the study of film was looked down by many as an unworthy pursuit. Petric, meanwhile, brought his tremendous energy and fathomless knowledge of film history and aesthetics to his years as the curator of remarkably creative cinematheque programs and an indefatigable and famously inspirational instructor of film history.

To commemorate and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the HFA we have invited the Archive’s founding fathers to present a program of their choosing, on three consecutive evenings. And to close our program and calendar we welcome a dear and loyal friend of the Archive, Steve Livernash, who served as the HFA’s Senior Projectionist from the very beginning, to join us for an evening of films and reminiscences.

We regret to announce that An Evening with Stanley Cavell has been postponed.

Current and upcoming programs