John Sayles Gifts Film Archives to University Of Michigan


Iconic American filmmaker has donated his film archives to the University of Michigan for the creation of John Sayles Archive at the Special Collections Library, detailing his 34-year directorial career.

The gift includes 230 boxes of material containing decades of production and legal documents, images, props, story boards, scripts, correspondence, personal journals, notebooks, manuscripts and business records.

"The John Sayles Archive is a scholarly treasure trove for students, faculty and anyone interested in exploring the inner workings of this artist," University President Mary Sue Coleman said in an official statement.

These archives will be open to the campus community as well as the general public.

"We chose the University of Michigan over other excellent archives and libraries because we wanted to see John's work studied as part of the curriculum at a great university," said his longtime producing partner, Maggie Renzi, in the statement.

Sayles whose movies explore themes such as race, class and gender identity, debuted as a director in 1979 with 'Return of the Secaucus 7.' His notable films include 1992's Academy Award-nominated 'Passion Fish' and 1996's 'Lone Star,' 'Matewan,' 'Brother from Another Planet' and 'The Secret of Roan Inish.'

Sayles is about to release 'Go for Sisters,' this November. This film marks his 18th picture as both writer and director. Sayles' 1988 baseball picture, 'Eight Men Out,' about the 1919 Black Sox scandal, was his first screenplay.

Sayles' films are housed at the UCLA Film & Television Archive.

Apart from Sayles, the university has documented the careers of American filmmakers Orson Welles and Robert Altman.

"These are three independent thinkers and artists, not traditional filmmakers consistently supported by the studios," said Philip Hallman, film studies librarian at the University of Michigan Library in the official statement. "They are all American mavericks with much to teach us not only about film but about our shared heritage, culture and society."

Hallman also emphasized that  the university was hosting John Sayles's work, who is a contemporary filmmaker and still producing and making films.  "His is what we call a 'living collection,' providing researchers with unparalleled opportunities for discovery and insight."

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