'Saving Brinton' chronicles discovery of film rarities

( Unrated ) ( Monitor Movie Guide )

In 1981, Mike Zahs bought the boxed artifacts of Frank and Indiana Brinton, two barnstorming Iowa show people who, in the late 19th and early 20th century, projected early movies and staged magic acts all across the heartland.

Saving Brinton/Barn Owl Pictures
Mike Zahs loads a reel of film from The Brinton Collection for an outdoor screening at his Iowa farm.

“I like saving things, especially if they look like they’re too far gone,” says Mike Zahs, a retired history teacher in Washington, Iowa, who has a long, stringy white beard and an unending supply of homespun anecdotes. But “Saving Brinton,” the documentary directed by Andrew Sherburne and Tommy Haines and which showcases Zahs, is no mere episode of “Hoarders.”

For one thing, Zahs is a very discriminating hoarder. In 1981, he bought the boxed artifacts of Frank and Indiana Brinton, two barnstorming Iowa show people who, in the late 19th and early 20th century, projected early movies and staged magic acts all across the heartland. When he finally delved into the trove, with its 8,000 items, he discovered rarities that brought him to the attention of some of the world’s leading film restorers, including Martin Scorsese. Zahs, a genial obsessive, is a lot of fun, and so is the movie. Grade: B+ (This movie is not rated.)

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to 'Saving Brinton' chronicles discovery of film rarities
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/The-Culture/Movies/2018/0615/Saving-Brinton-chronicles-discovery-of-film-rarities
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe