MS/LIS student Ari Negovschi has been selected to receive the 2021 Nancy Mysel Legacy Grant from the Film Noir Foundation. The purpose of the $5,000 grant is "to enhance or benefit a student's film restoration/preservation or moving image archive studies." Negovschi earned her BFA from California Institute of the Arts' Film and Video Program and worked in various fields, including the film industry, before deciding to pursue a degree in library and information science (LIS).
"As an undergraduate, I learned just how vital independent film preservation is to ensuring that works of film outside the mainstream, Hollywood studio systems are not lost forever," she said. "This interest was further piqued years later when I was working at a digitization firm, scanning an old 8mm home movie of a May Day parade in Chicago. It was fascinating and exciting to see firsthand the historical documents that live in people’s home movie collections. That's when I decided I wanted to get involved in film preservation as a career."
Negovschi began saving job descriptions that she found interesting and noticed a common thread—all the jobs she wanted to pursue required a master's degree in LIS. After emailing schools across the country to get a sense of their programs, academic priorities, and professional development opportunities, she chose the University of Illinois.
"After speaking to Dr. Jimi Jones, as well as Josh Harris of the Media Preservation Unit, it was clear to me that my focus on audiovisual archival studies would be supported," she said. "To my surprise, other programs across the country do not offer dedicated, in-house courses on audiovisual archiving, let alone provide access to a dedicated media preservation unit, so the choice to attend UIUC's iSchool became obvious."
As the media preservation graduate assistant for the Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Illinois, Negovschi is overseeing the preservation of the Perry Miller Adato film collection, which is comprised of 457.5 cubic feet of film, audio, and miscellaneous media elements from Adato's numerous documentary productions.
"Working on this collection has been extremely exciting because of how meticulously organized Adato was in her collection. It provides an exceptional glimpse into the long-lost process of commercial filmmaking in the analog age and contains some amazing elements like rare, behind-the-scenes photographs of Picasso, mint condition film catalogs from major distributors of the time, and extensive correspondence," she said.
Negovschi's long-term goal is to work as a film archivist or preservationist, ideally at an archive where she can focus on "preserving work by BIPOC creatives, particularly women of color, in order to expand the cinematic canon." This focus is especially important to Negovschi as a person of mixed Mexican and Romanian heritage, who is hoping to bring more diversity to the field. She would also like to work in a pro-bono capacity by lending her skills to people, collectors, and small organizations that need help preserving images in their possession but may not have the financial resources to do so.