A lost film found by University of Delaware librarians was screened at the 2011 New York Film Festival.

Lost film found

UD librarians discover important lost film in Morocco


3:47 p.m., Nov. 18, 2011--A newly restored copy of the only surviving print of You Are Not I, a 1981 film directed by filmmaker and producer Sara Driver, was shown Oct. 6 in the Masterworks section at the 2011 New York Film Festival. The lost film was found by University of Delaware librarians in a vacant apartment in Tangier, Morocco, where it had gone missing for almost 30 years.  

This re-premiere screening was held Oct. 6 at Lincoln Center in the Walter Reade Theatre. Among the sellout crowd attending the screening were the film’s director, Sara Driver; Richard Peña, the American film program director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center; Steve Buscemi; Betty Gordon; Abel Ferrara; Suzanne Fletcher, the film's "Ethel"; Willem Dafoe; Jim Jarmusch, film director;  Susan Lazarus; Shanyn Leigh; and Regina Weinreich. Special guests invited from the University of Delaware Library were Meghann Matwichuk, associate librarian and coordinator, Film and Video Collection Department; Timothy Murray, head, Special Collections Department; and Francis Poole, head, Film and Video Collection Department.

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A question-and-answer session and reception followed the showing.

The Paul Bowles connection

You Are Not I is based on a short story by the late expatriate American novelist and composer, Paul Bowles, who died in 1999. In 2008, Poole was in Tangier, Morocco, to present a paper at a conference and while there was contacted by Paul Bowles’ heir and invited to examine items belonging to Paul Bowles that had been stored in a vacant apartment for almost 10 years. 

Poole took hundreds of photos of the materials, including several of a battered film case sitting on a shelf below typewriters belonging to Paul and Jane Bowles. After returning to Delaware, he showed the photos to Timothy Murray, head of Special Collections Department, and in February 2009, Poole and Murray returned to Tangier to sort, pack and ship the materials back to the University of Delaware Library for addition to the Library’s extensive Paul Bowles Collection. 

The mysterious film case containing two reels of 16mm film could not be mailed from Morocco so in a last minute decision the librarians placed it in a carry-on bag for the flight from Casablanca to Madrid and then to the United States. Back at the University of Delaware Library, the film was previewed and found to be in relatively good condition. The director, Sara Driver, was then contacted and told of the discovery. Driver said she was thrilled with the news and that the negatives and existing prints of the film had all been destroyed several years before in a warehouse flood. 

The copy brought back from Tangier is the only surviving print of You Are Not I, sent to Paul Bowles as his personal copy. It had remained among his possessions in Tangier for some 30 years. 

Intersection between literary and film history

As the first film based on a work of fiction by Paul Bowles it was obvious that You Are Not I was an important intersection between Bowles’ literary history and film history and would be an important addition to the Paul Bowles Collection. Since the film’s discovery, Driver has donated original publicity materials, posters and film stills related to the surviving print to the University of Delaware Library and will also be donating her Paul Bowles correspondence.   

You Are Not I premiered at the Festival Figueira da Foz, Portugal in September 1981. It premiered in the U.S. at Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre in New York City and was featured at many international film festivals.

In its end-of-the-decade critic’s survey, Cahiers du Cinéma declared it to be one of the best films of the 1980s. The film was co-written by Jim Jarmusch, director of such acclaimed films as Permanent Vacation (1980); Stranger Than Paradise (1983), which won the Camera d’Or at the 1984 Cannes Film Festival; Down by Law (1986), Night on Earth (1991), Dead Man (1995) and The Limits of Control (2009). Jarmusch was also the cinematographer on You Are Not I.  

Besides You Are Not I, Driver also directed the critically acclaimed Sleepwalk (1986) and When Pigs Fly (1993). From 1996-98, she taught directing at New York University’s Film School. She was also the producer on Stranger Than Paradise. For the past several years, Driver has been writing and developing feature film projects: the original screenplays Deaf, Dumb and Blonde, Gone with the Mind and They Live Among Us.

On the screen again

Initial efforts at cleaning, preservation and reformatting to DVD of the surviving print by Library Film and Video Collection staff of the University of Delaware Library enabled it to be shown at the 2010 Reykjavik International Film Festival in Iceland and at the Do You Bowles Paul Bowles Centennial -- International Conference sponsored by the University of Lisbon. It was also featured at the Paul Bowles Centenary Celebration at the University of California, Santa Cruz. This summer it was selected for showing at the Edinburgh Film Festival.  

In spring 2011, Driver won the Lois Bianchi Award of the NYWIFT (New York Women in Film and Television)/Women's Film Preservation Fund, which supported a complete restoration of You Are Not I and the creation of a new negative and prints made from the surviving original print held by the University of Delaware Library. The restoration of the film was recently completed and included new credits which acknowledge the contribution of the University of Delaware Library. A copy of the new print will be placed in the Academy Film Archive. 

After You Are Not I was selected to be re-premiered at the 2011 New York Film Festival in the Masterworks section, Driver invited Murray, Poole and Matwichuk to attend the screening and wrote, "I am eternally grateful to all three of you and the University of Delaware for the care and participation in the saving of this film. It is a wonderful outcome that the film will be shown in this esteemed venue. And it is very important to the film that you can all be in attendance for this wonderful moment. (Without you this never would have happened!)"  

This month You Are Not I is being featured in a retrospective of Driver’s work at the Thessaloniki International Film Festival. It will also be re-released on DVD in spring 2012.

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