Saving Brinton

Michael Zahs, a retired junior high teacher in Washington, Iowa, embarks on a project to preserve the early film collection of Frank and Indiana Brinton, who lived in Washington and ran touring magic-lantern shows after the turn of the 20th century. The teacher acquired the films in 1981 and kept them in a shed behind his house until 2013, when the Library of Congress and University of Iowa set out to save them; one turned out to be a lost short by the pioneering fantasy filmmaker Georges Méliès, and Zahs travels to Italy for the restoration’s world premiere at the Bologna film festival. The old teacher—who stands six-foot-three and wears a gray beard that looks to be three-foot-six—is an affable eccentric full of information, but as he himself notes, he’s more of a storyteller than a historian, and in the context of the documentary he’s more of a host than a subject. Tommy Haines and Andrew Sherburne directed.