Category Archives: Educational

It’s a Cat’s Life (1957)

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Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 10m 57s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: ca. 1957
Director: Emily Benton Frith
Production: Frith Films; Cinesound (sound)
Photography/Camera: Emily Benton Frith
Narration: George Barclay


Let’s face it. Historically, cats have sometimes had a bad rap. Sure, some civilizations have worshipped them – but others have associated them with the devil or witchcraft, shunning them (or worse). Their occasional disinterest in, or independence of humans is bitterly qualified as aloof or detached. As though a pet not constantly concerned with lavishing attention on humans (looking at you, dogs) is kind of a jerk. But if you want to soften any person’s heart towards the feline variety, all you really need to do is give them ten straight minutes of baby kittens frolicking. And It’s a Cat’s Life (1957) does just that.

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Maple Sugar Time (1941)

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Institution: Library and Archives Canada
Collection: Metropolitan Toronto Library Board fonds, 1987-0337

Other title: Le Temps des Sucres
Running time: 8m 14s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1941
Director: Stanley Hawes
Production: National Film Board of Canada; Northern Electric Recording (sound)
Camera: Michael Spencer
Editor: Donald Fraser
Music: Maurice Blackburn


As a news topic, maple syrup has undergone an odd resurgence in recent years. The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers — a Canadian organization dedicated to controlling the province’s output and stabilizing its price — has been criticized in the press due to borderline-draconian treatment of producers it considers delinquents. The price stability has been correlated to increased syrup production in the northeast U.S., thereby decreasing Quebec’s market share over the past several years. Thieves were caught stealing $18 million worth of syrup from a federation warehouse between 2011 and 2012. Last we heard, Jason Segel — of Freaks & Geeks and The Muppets fame — is attached to star in the film about the sticky-sweet heist. You don’t see this sort of press attention for honey (unless it’s related to bee colony collapse disorder).

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Possibilities in Clay (1975)

Watch Now on IU Media Collections Online

Institution: Indiana University
Collection: IUL Moving Image Archive

Running time: 24m 51s
Year: 1975
Source film: 16mm; color; sound
Director: Phil Terman
Audio: Don Scales
Photography: Phil Stockton
Production: Indiana University Audio-Visual Center


There are many functional items you simply cannot produce using clay as your primary material. Skateboards, functional gyroscopes, and domestic cats are all well beyond the jurisdiction of the ceramist. In fact, there are far more things that are not clay-based than are. That said, the art and practice of ceramics — hardening material into form by firing it at extremely high temperatures — is thousands of years old and the medium of clay transcends culture, geography, and era. The 1975 short documentary Possibilities in Clay, produced by the Indiana University Audio-Visual Center, examines various expressions of the material through four portrayals of five different ceramics artists, each with his or her own philosophical approach to the craft of clay.

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A is for AIDS (1988)

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Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Educational Films

Running Time: 15m 00s
Source film: VHS; sound; color
Year: 1988
Director: Aron Ranen
Production: Perennial Education; Peregrine Productions; Charlotte K. Beyers
Writers: Charlotte K. Beyers, Aron Ranen
Music / Sound Effects: Andrew Newell
Computer Animation: Steven Walsted

Cast: Roger Peeks, Dov Christopher, Larina Williams, Jason Bennett, Jeanette Stoney, Celeste Carrion, Ryan White, Noe Zavala


Animation has a long and storied history of alliterative character names. Classic figures from Bugs Bunny and Huckleberry Hound to SpongeBob SquarePants, have wormed their way into the collective conscience and TV schedules of generations of viewers. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that creators Aron Ranen and Charlotte K. Beyers decided to use this tried-and-true formula to name the talking (doctor) dog at the center of their 1988 educational film, A is for AIDS. Dr. Andy Answer (voiced by Dov Christopher) is the sort of oracle who supernaturally pops up on the television screen at the exact moment three adolescents react with curiosity to a televised news report about the AIDS health crisis. His invitation to the kids to teleport to his laboratory seems rife with problems, both technological and otherwise.

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Teddy (1971)

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Institution: Internet Archive
Collection: Prelinger Archives

Running time: 16m 16s
Source film:  16mm; color; sound
Year: 1971
Director: Richard Wells
Production: Gary Schlosser; Peter Schniztler; University of California, Los Angeles – Extension Media Center;  National Institute of Mental Health
Photography/Camera: Robert Grant
Editor: Andrew Stein


The Social Seminar was a program sponsored by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and developed by the National Institute of Mental Health in the early 1970s that sought to provide a learning environment in which participants identified and established values and improved communication skills while participating in structured activities. From a cursory review of the resource manual provided to seminar facilitators (see: Related), it appears that much of the program was oriented around one of 19 short documentary films that were used as learning tools. They depicted all sorts of lives, from the acid-dropping California hippie to the television news reporter. At least six of the films were executive produced by Oscar-nominated short subject documentary filmmaker Gary Schlosser, so they had competent editing and camera-work that provided a coherent portrait of each film’s subject. Despite the program’s central aim of the prevention of drug abuse, not all of the films were strictly about drug consumption. 1971’s Teddy was one such film, focusing on a high school student in the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles.

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