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PRINT Summer 2009

film

Kenneth Macpherson’s Monkeys’ Moon

KENNETH MACPHERSON (1903–1971) has long been considered a pioneer of avant-garde film, but his reputation rested largely on hearsay, as the work itself—three short films and a feature—had mostly been lost. Of two of the shorts, Wing Beat (1927) and Foothills (1928), only fragments remain. Macpherson’s single feature-length film, Borderline (1930), starring Paul Robeson, hadn’t completely vanished, but only a handful of prints ever existed, and for decades, beyond the rare public screening, his work was available chiefly to scholars. In 2006, the British Film Institute sponsored the restoration and eventual DVD release of Borderline, revitalizing interest in Macpherson’s prodigious talents. These three films were Macpherson’s only extant works—until earlier this year, when Monkeys’ Moon, his third short, photographed and directed in 1929 and long believed to have been destroyed, turned up

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