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FACED WITH THE TASK of moving more than 1200 films by the 1st of May,
Staunchly independent and firmly within the tradition of artists such as Rick Prelinger
and the late Bruce Conner, 3TON’s modus operandi is, above all, D.I.Y. media
archeology–not mere monetization.
“The real treasure is the content itself,” says co-founder Montgomery Cantsin.
The project of bringing archival reels to life requires a significant investment of
time and money. “The reason we have these films in the first place is because
certain institutions could no longer afford to take care of them. We’ll gladly
look after them. But without real financial support we’ll barely scratch the
surface of our collection.”
Aside from archival 16MM programming, 3TON showcases work by
contemporary filmmakers. A 3TON tour of the Midwest in 2011 featured the U.S.
debut of Noise and Resistance: Voices from the D.I.Y. Underground, a German
feature documentary co-directed by Julia Ostertag. In addition to movie
theatres, 3TON has held screenings in art galleries, warehouses, bars, all-ages
music venues, bookstores, and private homes.
The future of 3TON includes digitization of its archival 16MM holdings, as
well as further collaborations with curators, filmmakers, musicians, and artists
around the world. Now partially based in New York, 3TON has gained the
support of Manhattan-based tech startup IB5k. (Future projects with IB5k
TBA.) As an infrastructure provider with a network of over 3000 content
creators, IB5k seeks to aid 3TON by allowing others to access 3TON’s vast
repository of audio-visual material.
3TON’s 16MM “orphanage” consists mainly of ephemeral productions–
educational films, industrial films, PSAs, cartoons, and newsreels–which date
as far back as the 1930’s.
“It’s a whole universe of sound and imagery, containing endless possibilities for
reordering and repurposing,” says Cantsin. “And right now it’s all trapped in a
little closet. We need some breathing room!”