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A Tribute to Robert Gitt

Robert Gitt
July 29, 2006 - 7:30 pm

Tonight's program is a salute to the Archive's longtime Preservation Officer, Robert Gitt, who officially retired from University service last year after working at UCLA since 1977.

Before his retirement, Gitt personally preserved or supervised the restoration of more than 360 feature films, as well as hundreds of shorts and newsreels. Notable films he worked on include the shortened and full-length versions of Orson Welles' Macbeth (1948); the silent comedy classics Grandma's Boy (1922) and The Freshman (1925), starring Harold Lloyd; Rouben Mamoulian's early Technicolor feature Becky Sharp (1935); Elia Kazan's A Face in the Crowd (1957); Charles Laughton's The Night of the Hunter (1955); Stanley Kubrick's Paths of Glory (1957); and many others.

We are fortunate that in his retirement Gitt continues to work on selected film preservation projects for the Archive, including Of Mice and Men, The Big Combo, Topper, and many other newly restored films screening in this Festival.

The tribute evening will be hosted by critic and film historian Leonard Maltin, and will include appreciations of Gitt by his colleagues at UCLA and in the film preservation community. The heart of the evening will be a special program of excerpts selected by Gitt from his personal favorites of the hundreds of features and short films he has worked on over the years Gitt promises a true surprise package of films that emphasizes entertainment and novelty as much as it illustrates the art of film preservation. The length of the spoken tributes and film program together is approximately two hours.

Robert Gitt was born in Hanover, Pennsylvania, and attended Dartmouth College in New Hampshire. Gitt remained at Dartmouth for several years after he graduated in 1963, curating programs for Dartmouth College Films, including early tributes to directors Jean Renoir and Joseph Losey. In 1970 Gitt joined the American Film Institute in Washington, D.C, where he established presentation standards for the AFI Theater and entered the field of film preservation in 1973. Among the projects he worked on at AFI was the landmark restoration of Frank Capra's Lost Horizon (1937), which he continued in cooperation with the Library of Congress and Sony Pictures after he came to UCLA.

Gitt moved to Los Angeles in 1975 and joined the UCLA Film & Television Archive two years later. It is no exaggeration to say that he created the Archive's film preservation program. In 1991 Gitt and UCLA received the British Film Institute Archival Achievement Award, and in 1995 he was awarded the Prix Jean Mitry at Le Giornate del Cinema Muto in Pordenone, Italy. He continues to be much in demand as a speaker at archives and film festivals around the world.

Running Time: approx 120 min.