Skip to Main Content
Home West O‘ahu Happenings See rare films ‘From Vault to Screen,’ Nov. 4

See rare films ‘From Vault to Screen,’ Nov. 4


Image courtesy of Bishop Museum

A hula performed with ʻulīʻulī. A football game between the Kamehameha Schools Cadets and the McKinley High School Tigers. News coverage of the 1949 Hawaiʻi dock strike. See these historic films and more at “From Vault to Screen: Preserving Bishop Museum’s Nitrate Films,” 6 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 4, via Zoom.

Bishop Museum and ʻUluʻulu: The Henry Kuʻualoha Giugni Moving Image Archive of Hawaiʻi at the University of Hawaiʻi–West Oʻahu present a screening of rare and previously unseen nitrate film reels from the Bishop Museum moving image collection.

Newly digitized through a Preservation & Access grant from the Hawaiʻi Council for the Humanities, three newsreels featuring stories from Hawaiʻi and the Pacific are available to be viewed for the first time since they were produced for movie theater audiences in the 1930s and ’40s, according to an event description from the museum.

Thirty minutes of film will be presented with critical commentary from Dr. Kealani Cook, UH West Oʻahu Assistant Professor of History, and DeSoto Brown, Bishop Museum Historian and Curator. The panel presentation will also include: Janel Quirante, ʻUlu‘ulu Head Archivist; Karla Morgan, Bishop Museum Library and Archives Collections Manager; and moderator Heather Giugni, ʻUluʻulu Cultural Collections Specialist and Producer.

The panelists will share the challenges and opportunities that arise when working with nitrate film, and Bishop Museum and ʻUluʻulu’s partnership to perpetuate and share the moving image heritage of Hawaiʻi and the Pacific.

“Preserving Hawaiʻi’s moving image history is an honor — and quite fun, too,” Giugni noted.

“This was probably one of the most complicated and complex preservation projects I’ve ever worked on,” Quirante said.

Nitrate film is highly flammable and must be handled as hazardous material, Quirante explained. 35mm nitrate movie film, which was in use from the 1890s until the 1950s, is not only dangerously flammable, but it can also deteriorate dramatically in Hawaiʻi’s climate.

“Just packing and shipping the reels to the film lab required hours of certification, communication with vendors, specialty supplies, and so much paperwork,” Quirante said. “So it was such a special moment for me to finally see and hear the amazing digital footage that came back from the lab.”

The newsreels played in Hawaiʻi movie theaters before the feature film, and offered audiences the latest news and current events from across the Pacific, she added.

“We were fortunate to have support from the Hawaii Council for the Humanities and to partner with the Bishop Museum on this project,” Quirante said. “And I’m thrilled that we can now share this historic footage with a brand new audience during the online presentation and screening, and also through ʻUluʻulu’s website and catalog.”

“From Vault to Screen: Preserving Bishop Museum’s Nitrate Films” is a free event with pre-registration. Click here for more information and to get tickets.

Image courtesy of Bishop Museum