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James Blue papers

 Collection
Identifier: Coll 458

Scope and Contents

The James Blue papers document both Blue's professional work as a filmmaker and educator, and facets of his personal life. The collection includes production materials for Blue's films (e.g. scripts, correspondence, research and subject files, notes, and contracts); audio-visual material in a variety of formats that document produced films, personal projects, and interviews; photographs, both professional and personal; materials documenting Blue's teaching career at Rice University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, Yale, the University of California, Los Angeles, the University of Houston, and the Museum of Modern Art; personal materials including correspondence, journals and notes, financial documents, contracts, and biographical material; and mementos, artwork, and ephemera.

Dates

  • 1905-2014
  • Majority of material found within 1960-1980

Creator

Language of Materials

The majority of materials in the collection are in English. Some materials are in French.

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open to the public. Collection must be used in Special Collections and University Archives Reading Room. Collection or parts of collection may be stored offsite. Please contact Special Collections and University Archives in advance of your visit to allow for transportation time.

Conditions Governing Use

Property rights reside with Special Collections and University Archives, University of Oregon Libraries. Copyright resides with the creators of the documents or their heirs. All requests for permission to publish collection materials must be submitted to Special Collections and University Archives. The reader must also obtain permission of the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

James Blue was born in 1930 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and moved with his family to Portland, Oregon, in 1942. He graduated from Jefferson High School in Portland, where he participated in the Latin Club. As a teenager, he began experimenting with filmmaking with an 8mm film camera. While a student at the University of Oregon, he was active in theater and radio productions. In 1952, he produced a popular 8mm film parody of Shakespeare’s Hamlet with college friends. He earned a B.A. in Speech and Theater from the University of Oregon in 1953. He served in the Armed Forces for two years, then returned to the University of Oregon to pursue a M.A. in Theater Arts in 1955. From 1956 to 1958, he studied cinematography at the prestigious Institut des hautes études cinématographiques (IHDEC) in Paris, thanks to a scholarship from the French government. At IHDEC, Blue took classes from Jean Mitry and Georges Sadoul, and alongside fellow students Costa-Gavras, Johan van der Keuken, and James Dormeyer.

Blue returned to New York in 1958 where he worked for an advertising agency producing television commercials. Two years later he left for Algeria to work with Studios Africa to produce short educational and documentary films for the Muslim population. Blue directed his only feature-length narrative fiction film Les Oliviers de la Justice (The Olive Trees of Justice) between December 1960 and September 1961 during the Algerian Revolution. Les Oliviers de la Justice won the Critics’ Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1962 and widespread recognition, including showings at the New York and London Film Festivals.

Blue’s success with Les Oliviers de la Justice attracted the attention of George Stevens, Jr., director of the motion picture service for the United States Information Agency (USIA). Blue directed several documentary films for the USIA: The School at Rincon Santo (1962), Letter from Colombia (1962), Evil Wind Out (1962), The March (1964), and A Few Notes on Our Food Problem (1968). His films for the USIA won major awards at international film festivals, including a Silver Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and top prizes in both the Bilbao and Amsterdam Documentary Film Festivals. A Few Notes on Our Food Problem received an Academy Award nomination in 1969, and The March was selected to the U.S. National Film Registry in 2008.

In 1964, James Blue received a Ford Foundation grant to interview renowned international film directors, including Jean-Luc Godard, Roberto Rossellini, Vittorio De Sica, Shirley Clarke, and Satyajit Ray. The interviews were intended as research material for a book Blue planned to write on the use of nonprofessional actors in film.

While a filmmaker in residence at the Media Center at Rice University, Blue collaborated with David MacDougall to produce a feature-length film study of an African tribe for the National Science Foundation, Kenya Boran (1974). From 1976 to 1979, Blue produced Who Killed Fourth Ward and Invisible City, multi-part documentaries that examined Houston’s housing crisis, poverty, and racism. In Houston, Blue also helped create the Southwest Alternative Media Project (SWAMP), one of several U.S. regional media centers established in the early 1970s.

Blue taught filmmaking at the American Film Institute, UCLA Film School, Fordham University, Rice University, and SUNY Buffalo. He also lectured at Yale University, the British Film Institute, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.

James Blue passed away on June 14, 1980 in Buffalo, New York.

Extent

191 linear feet (112 containers)

Abstract

James Blue (1930-1980) was a filmmaker and educator. The collection contains production materials, film, videotape, audiotape interviews, photographs, research materials, teaching materials, personal and professional correspondence, mementos, and news clippings.

Arrangement

Material within this collection is intellectually arranged. Any arrangement is either derived from the records' creators or custodians or from staff at the time of initial processing. It may be necessary to look in multiple places for the same types of materials.

Collection is intellectually arranged into the following series:

Series I: Films: Produced

Subseries A: A Few Notes on Our Food Problem

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Contracts

Subsubseries 3: Research and Subject files

Subsubseries 4: Ephemera

Subsubseries 5: Scripts

Subseries B: Who Killed Fourth Ward?

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Research and Subject files

Subseries C: A Letter from Columbia/The School at Rincon Santo

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Clippings

Subsubseries 3: Research and Subject files

Subseries D: The School at Rincon Santo

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Publications

Subsubseries 3: Ephemera

Subsubseries 4: Scripts

Subseries E: Amal

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Scripts

Subsubseries 3: Publications

Subsubseries 4: Miscellaneous

Subseries F: The Olive Trees of Justice

Subsubseries 1: Scripts

Subsubseries 2: Research and Subject files

Subsubseries 3: Showings

Subsubseries 4: Ephemera

Subseries G: The Invisible City

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Publications

Subsubseries 3: Research and Subject files

Subseries H: The March

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Scripts

Subsubseries 3: Publications

Subsubseries 4: Research and Subject files

Subsubseries 5: Showings

Subseries I: Kenya Boran

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Scripts

Subsubseries 3: Research and Subject files

Subseries J: Filmmaker in Residence / USIA

Subsubseries 1: Correspondence

Subsubseries 2: Contracts

Subsubseries 3: Research and Subject files

Subseries 4: Other James Blue Films - Produced

Subseries K: Dog Soldiers

Series II: Films: Not produced

Subseries A: The Midwest film

Subseries B: Watch for the Razor Act

Subseries C: Other films: Not produced

Series III: Teaching Files

Subseries A: Rice University

Subseries B: The State University of New York at Buffalo

Subseries C: Yale

Subseries D: Museum of Modern Art

Subseries E: University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)

Subseries F: University of Houston

Subseries G: Other teaching files

Subseries H: Articles and class materials about filmmaking

Series IV: Personal

Subseries A: Biographical material

Subseries B: Correspondence

Subseries C: Contracts

Subseries D: Financial documents

Subseries E: Journals

Subseries F: Bound volumes

Subseries G: Meeting minutes

Subseries H: Notes and writings

Subseries I: Presentations and interviews

Subseries J: Publications

Subseries K: Subject files

Subseries L: Clippings

Subseries M: Miscellaneous

Subseries N: Ephemera

Subseries O: Film showings

Series V: Film Festivals

Series VI: Audio Files

Series VII: Video

Series VIII: Photographs

Subseries A: Professional

Subsubseries 1: Film Stills

Subsubseries 2: Head shots and Publicity photos

Subsubseries 3: Other work photographs

Subseries B: Family/Personal

Subseries C: Miscellaneous

Series IX: Artwork and Ephemera

Subseries A: Artwork

Subseries B: Certificates and Awards

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Richard Blue, Gerald O'Grady, James Dormeyer, and John Ptak.

Existence and Location of Copies

Selected sound recordings in this collection are available as digital audio files in Special Collections and University Archives.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Anna Fleming, Oscar Melgarejo, Elizabeth Peterson, Stephanie Kays, and Rachel Lilley.

This finding aid may be updated periodically to account for new acquisitions to the collection and/or revisions in arrangement and description.

Descriptive information is drawn in part from information supplied with the collection and initial surveys of the contents.
Title
Guide to the James Blue papers
Status
Revise Description
Author
Elizabeth Peterson
Date
2015-2017
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin
Language of description note
Finding aid is written in English

Repository Details

Part of the University of Oregon Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives Repository

Contact:
1299 University of Oregon
Eugene OR 97403-1299 USA