The Perlin Papers: A series of eight films
Jenny Perlin, 2010
The Perlin Papers is a cycle of films that treats issues of domestic espionage during the Cold War period in 1950s U.S. The Perlin Papers is an archive of 250,000 pages located at Columbia University. The archive contains most of the FBI documents related to the case of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, U.S. citizens who were tried and executed in 1953 for allegedly spying for the Soviet Union For two decades after the execution, the FBI tracked hundreds of people tangentially connected to the case. The Perlin Papers films focus on the overlooked, irrelevant, and seemingly unimportant documents in the archive as a way of unpacking history and connecting it to the present.
The Perlin Papers archive is named for a distant relative of mine. Marshall “Mike” Perlin was a New York lawyer who forced the U.S. government to release the papers in the early 1970s. Perlin’s lawsuit on behalf of the Rosenbergs’ children resulted in one of the first successful uses of the Freedom of Information Act in the United States.
The first six films in the series are direct representations of actual documents in the Perlin Papers archive. The last two films are, respectively, a fiction and an observation. The films are a modular series that can be exhibited and screened in any number and any order.
The Perlin Papers films (click title to view descriptions and images)
16mm, b/w, sound, 56 seconds, 2010
16mm, b/w, sound, 6:10, 2009
16mm, b/w, sound, 55 seconds, 2010
16mm, color, sound, 11:25, 2006
16mm, b/w, sound, 1:44, 2006/2010
16mm, b/w, sound, 2:20, 2006/2010
16mm, color, sound, 20:50, 2010
16mm, color, sound, 4:40, 2008
Films from the Perlin Papers have shown at the following venues:
Version Animation Biennial of the Moving Image, Geneva, Switzerland (2006), The Kitchen, New York (2006-07), Galerie M+R Fricke, Düsseldorf (2006), The Museum of Modern Art, New York, (2007), Rotterdam Film Festival, The Netherlands (2007), New York Underground Film Festival, New York (2007), Images Film Festival, Toronto, Canada (2007), Videoform/Film Form, Hamburg, Germany (2008), IFC Center, New York (2008) Gallery TPW, Toronto, Canada (2008), Casino Luxembourg, Luxembourg City, (2008), MUSAC, Leon, Spain (2010), Gavle Konstcentrum, Sweden (2010)
Funding for the Perlin Papers provided by
LEF Moving Image Fund
Mount Holyoke College
American Center Foundation, Geneva, Switzerland
IASPIS, Stockholm, Sweden
Postproduction Services provided by The Standby Program, New York
Special thanks to Whitney Bagnall, Diamond Law Library, Columbia University, New York