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My Own Yard to Play in


Location: Video Screening Amphitheater

Phil Lerner, Patricia Jaffe, Tony Schwartz. 1959, 7 mins. 4K digital scan of 16mm film. My Own Yard to Play in documents children at play on the streets of Harlem in the late 1950s. Inspired by artist Helen Levitt’s images of life in New York City in the 1940s, photographer Phil Lerner shot the 16mm film shortly before he died from multiple sclerosis. Editor Patricia Jaffe compiled the footage into segments depicting urban streetscapes that serve as playgrounds for children of various cultural backgrounds. Asynchronous audio provided by renowned sound archivist Tony Schwartz completes the film’s richly imaginative, child-centered world. 

My Own Yard to Play in was recently screened as part of NYU’s biannual Orphan Film Symposium, hosted this year at the Museum, where archivists from around the world present and discuss little seen or newly discovered moving image treasures. The version of the film shown here is a new 4K scan of a 16mm print in the collection of York University in Toronto. 

Special thanks to Luke Kuplowsky and Dan Streible. 

Digital scan by CineMobilia