Founding film curator James Card helped to establish the George Eastman Museum as a leader in the fields of cinema and film preservation. Card’s devotion to the silent era of filmmaking (1895–1928), the golden age of Hollywood (1920s–1940s), and silent German cinema created a core collection of classics unrivaled in its quality and diversity.
Card is credited with the discovery and preservation of the last surviving print of the silent film Peter Pan (Herbert Brenon, 1924); with re-examining the career and work of silent screen star Louise Brooks by preserving Pandora’s Box (G. W. Pabst, 1928), Diary of a Lost Girl (G. W. Pabst, 1929), and Prix de Beauté (Augusto Genina, 1930); and with championing film history by honoring its pioneers through the George Eastman Award and by instituting a film restoration program that continues to this day. Card’s desire to share his love of films with the public resulted in the establishment of one of the longest running and uninterrupted film screening programs in the United States, at the Dryden Theatre.
In 1949, through his close friendship with his contemporaries Henri Langlois of the Cinémathèque française, Iris Barry at the Museum of Modern Art, and Ernest Lindgren at the British Film Institute, Card brought the Eastman Museum into the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), the preeminent organization devoted to ensuring that the collective world heritage of motion pictures is cared for and preserved for future generations.