98 min, 16mm-to-digital

78rpm is the first feature film by Brooklyn-based artist/filmmaker Joel Schlemowitz. The film is a fond documentary paean to the gramophone and the 78 record collector. 78rpm is amply equipped with expert talking heads – Schlemowitz interviews vintage culture mavens including Shien Lee of Dances of Vice and the London-based Shellac Sisters; authors and experts in the field; 78 record collectors including Michael Cumella of the Antique Phonograph Music program on WMFU; Jonathan Ward of Excavated Shellac; bandleader Vince Giordano; and even the grandson of the inventor of the gramophone, Oliver Berliner. But far from a dry and solemn history lesson, 78RPM is a film of mercurial high-spirited enthusiasm, featuring an array of hand-processed 16mm scenes of cinematic hijinks. Schlemowitz puts the music itself front and center, pausing to play a generous selection of old shellac records in their (3-minute) entirety – from hot jazz to Enrico Caruso to hillbilly ballads. The film’s subjects also ponder the rapid change of technology and the specter of ever-increasing obsolescence, as well as seeking to answer the ultimate question intrinsic to the 78 record: “Why 78 revolutions per minute?”

Director’s bio

Joel Schlemowitz is an experimental filmmaker and artist based in Brooklyn, NY. Screenings of his films have included the Ann Arbor Film Festival, New York Film Festival, and Tribeca Film Festival. His work has received awards from the Chicago Underground Film Festival, The Dallas Video Festival, and elsewhere. Shows of installation artworks include Anthology Film Archives, and Microscope Gallery in Brooklyn, NY. He teaches filmmaking at The New School in New York and is the Resident Film Programmer and Arcane Media Specialist at the Morbid Anatomy Museum.


Michael Cumella

Jim Shulman

Loren Schoenberg

Amelia Foxtrot

Timothy Fabrizio

Foxtrot Fanny

Dave Guttridge

Jonathan Ward

Oliver Berliner

Bill Sparkle

Mark Katz

Rod Lauman

Ethan Crenson

Laura Dame

Aldo Mancusi

Vince Giordano

Jonathan Hiam

Rani Singh

Shien Lee

Denny Daniel

Fabio Roberti

Sean Miller


Hazel Honeysuckle

Michael Cumella

Michael Haar

Zoe Lasden-Lyman

Steven Levine

Professor Adam Smasher

Bradley Eros

Masae Satouchi

Dame Darcy

The Luvely Rae

Nana Masuda

Kaoru Matsuoka

Masae Satouchi

Matteo De Mauro

Matthew Silver


East Village Follies at Webster Hall, New York NY

Eastside Show Room, Austin TX

Thomas Edison National Historical Park, West Orange NJ

Henley Festival, Henley-on-Thames UK

Johnson Victrola Museum, Dover DE

New York Hot Jazz Festival at Mehanata, New York NY

Victrola Repair Services, St Johnsbury VT

Der Kommissar, Brooklyn NY

The Enrico Caruso Museum of America, Brooklyn NY

Jalopy Theatre and School of Music, Brooklyn NY

The Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives

of Recorded Sound, New York NY

WFMU, Jersey City NJ

Dances of Vice, New York NY

The Black Cotton Club, London UK

The Steampunk World’s Fair, Piscataway NJ

The Jazz Age Lawn Party, Governors Island NY

© 2015 Joel Schlemowitz