It all started when Peter Mays convinced Fred’s partner, Linda Farrell that after his passing, Fred Engelberg’s “stuff” should be saved. Peter brought in Adam Hyman (L.A. Film Forum) and prof David James (USC) and they put the Hefner archive in touch with Linda. After a few conversations, Linda knew we would be a great home for Fred’s material and we were able to acquire the films and papers of Fred Engelberg. We are extremely excited to begin making his work accessible to researchers and fans the world over. If you are like me you knew very little about Fred. I have since found out that this was not by accident but by design. Fred enjoyed creating art, but for some reason liked to stay hidden in the background, letting others take the limelight. Throughout his career he was influential on many others through his films, folk music, and theatrical workshops. He mentored a young Stanton Kaye, was significantly influential in the development of critically acclaimed documentaries on Charlie Chaplin (The Gentleman Tramp) and the Vietnam War (Hearts and Minds) and wrote, produced, designed and directed two 35mm feature length documentaries (The Last of the Polish Jews and At God’s Will) which sadly were never properly released. He was also an accomplished folk musician who released two LP’s in the 1960’s on Elektra/Crestview, an actor in movies such as Dinosaurus (1960) and The Beat Generation (1959), and an extremely creative experimental film maker, with his best known piece of work being Episiotomy from 1966.
Our main goal here at the USC Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive is to provide a proper home for Fred’s work. This will involve us making as much of it as possible available online for access, and preserving his 2 feature documentaries so that they may finally be seen, because they really are remarkable pieces of work. We also hope to make available his experimental work. We currently have 16mm prints available to screen of EPISIOTOMY, and will hopefully make available some of the other titles as time goes on. If you have an interest in Fred’s work please do not hesitate to contact us, and check back often as we will be adding more content over the coming months.
It is high time that the work of this man be seen and heard by more than just the select few who knew Fred over the years