N.Y. art museum launches film series

Two docs to open exhibit

New York City's Museum of Modern Art is launching a two-year film series called "An Auteurist History of Film" on Sept. 9. The program, drawn from the museum's collection, kicks off with two documentaries, "Origins of the Motion Picture" and "Eadweard Muybridge, Zoopraxographer."

The auteurist approach to film, articulated by the critics who wrote for Cahiers du Cinema in the 1950s and brought to America by film writer and critic Andrew Sarris, contends that, despite the collaborative nature of the medium, the director is the primary force behind the creation of a film.

Rather than creating a single, formal museum canon, "Auteurist" will offer filmgoers a look at filmmaking from its origins to the present by examining the role of the director.

The first three months of the series will explore pre-cinema; the earliest films seen in Europe and America, by the Edison Company and the Lumiere Brothers; pre-D.W. Griffith directors and the early efforts of Griffith at New York's Biograph Studio; the innovations by Scandinavian filmmakers; and Griffith's departure from Biograph.

Over the course of the two-year series, additional information will be available on MoMA's website, www.moma.org.

The series is organized by Charles Silver, curator of the museum's department of film.