Saving Brinton: Helping To Preserve The Past

Watching video today is easy. Between our phones, tablets and TVs, our video options are plentiful and available 24/7. We can watch news from around the world and the number of movie and television choices is astounding. A hundred years ago that wasn’t the case. Back then, most Americans had never seen a moving picture. Iowans received their first look at the magic of movies thanks to William Franklin Brinton.

The Brinton Legacy

From the late-1890s until the early 1900s, Brinton, of Washington, Iowa, traveled from Texas to Minnesota showing enthusiastic audiences slides, films and other forms of entertainment. These films, including rare footage of President Teddy Roosevelt, the first moving images from Burma and a lost relic from magical effects godfather Georges Méliés, were found in an Iowa farmhouse basement many years ago by Mike Zahs. Zahs, an eccentric collector, worked to restore the Brinton name by bringing the collection to The Library of Congress, Paris and a small-town movie theater where Brinton once showed his films. The collection was donated to the University of Iowa Libraries in 2014.

The Film

Zahs’ entire journey to save the Brinton collection was documented by Iowa filmmakers Tommy Haines, Andrew Sherburne and John Richard. The documentary, Saving Brinton, was released to audiences in 2017. The Gilchrist Foundation was proud to lend support to this project both with production and the marketing of the theatrical release.

In 2018, the foundation awarded a $5,000 micro-grant to FilmScene for further marketing and publicity of the theatrical release of Saving Brinton. FilmScene is an Iowa City theater that shows feature films but also hosts filmmaker dialogues, panel discussions and community events. It is a member-supported, mission-driven theater. A micro-grant was also awarded in 2016 to help produce the movie.

The film aired on IPTV in January. It is currently available from iTunes, Vimeo On Demand and DVDs are available for purchase from the film’s website.

The Gilchrist Foundation

Supporting Saving Brinton aligns with the Gilchrist Foundation’s mission to support special projects in the arts, including music, museums, theater and public broadcasting for communities across Siouxland. As a young woman, the foundation’s founder, Jocelyn Gilchrist, frequented The Chicago Symphony, and the Chicago Art Institute and enjoyed the theater. She grew a deep fondness for the arts, both live and on the radio.

Organizations related to the Arts or public broadcasting are invited to apply for funding through the Gilchrist Foundation.