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University of Iowa News Release

March 22, 2005

Altman Wins International Award For Silent Film Book

A University of Iowa professor has won one of the most prestigious international awards in film studies. Rick Altman, professor of cinema and comparative literature in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, received the Limina Award for his book, "Silent Film Sound" (Columbia University Press, 2004.)

The Limina Award was created by the Udine Conference, one of the oldest film conferences in Europe, and by the international journal sponsored by the conference: "Cinema et Cie." The award is given each year to the previous year's best book on cinema, chosen from books published around the world. The journal's international editorial board selects the winner and the award is presented at the conference, which is held in every spring in northeastern Italy.

"Silent Film Sound" is the first attempt to tell the whole story of film accompaniment during the silent film years. Based on archival research, including in-depth attention to two UI Special Collections -- the Keith/Albee Vaudeville Papers and the Redpath Chautauqua Collection -- Altman's book deals with everything from player pianos to mighty Wurlitzers, and from solitary pianists to 100-piece orchestras. With more than 200 illustrations, including eight pages of color, the book challenges the assumptions of earlier histories of this period in film and reveals the complexity and swiftly changing nature of American silent cinema.

Altman has written about the Hollywood musical, genre theory and film sound. The French translation of his book "The American Film Musical" won the French Film Critics Award for the best book about film of 1992. His book "Film/Genre" won the Society for Cinema and Media Studies Kovacs Prize for the best film book of 1999. His research for 'Silent Film Sound' was supported by the UI Arts and Humanities Initiative and the Support Program for Arts and Humanities, as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies.

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