Winona State University’s Film Studies Program and Krueger Library are the recipients of a collection of books donated by the estate of Twin Cities documentary filmmaker, curator, and cinephile Al Milgrom, who passed away in 2020 at the age of 98.
The collection includes hundreds of titles ranging from works on individual genres, directors, and films to guides and manuals for filmmaking. Film Studies Professor Andrea Wood said “We are very fortunate to be the recipients of this incredibly generous donation. WSU, and most particularly the Film Studies program, will benefit greatly from these unique resources for many years to come. This is a truly wonderful way to memorialize Al Milgrom and share his life-long passion for film with students for many years to come.
Film Studies major Dakota Maertz said, “I know my fellow students and I are greatly appreciative of Al Milgrom’s estate’s generous donation of materials that will help us on our journey as we analyze and create works in the medium of film.”
Milgrom taught film at the University of Minnesota, founded the Minnesota-St. Paul International Film Festival, and mentored hundreds of aspiring filmmakers in his work with DocuClub. Milgrom appeared on several occasions to share his work at Winona’s Frozen River Film Festival: The Dinkytown Uprising (2015) and Singin’ In The Grain (2019). “Al liked going to Frozen River with his documentaries,” said family friend Daniel Geiger. “I know he would like Winona State to benefit from his film library.”
“Mr. Milgrom really seemed to enjoy connecting with the audiences at his films,” said Daniel Munson, Assistant Director at Frozen River Film Festival. “He loved to talk about filmmaking and share his experiences. This gift to WSU’s Film Studies Program seems like a perfect extension of what we saw from him in person.”
Even at age 98, Milgrom was at work on another documentary, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, about a trip to Russia he had taken in the 1950s.
Winona State Acquisitions Librarian Vernon Leighton has personally overseen the ongoing process of cataloguing each item in the donation. “We’ve inserted book plates in the books and have placed a note in the catalog record of each book that says ‘Al Milgrom Film Studies Collection.’ The collection can be viewed through the Library’s Online Catalog.”
“The life, legacy, and love of filmmaking represented by Al Milgrom’s collection will be an ongoing inspiration to the many Winona State students discovering this medium through their work in the College of Liberal Arts,” said Associate Dean Rita Rahoi-Gilchrest. “The generosity of this bequest, and our ability to share it with others, will support our mission in a new and exciting way.”
Winona State’s Film Studies Program began as a minor in 2011 and expanded to a major in 2017. Students in the program learn the history, aesthetics, and influence of film in its various genres while gaining opportunities to curate film programs and series, collaborate with Frozen River Film Festival, publish reviews and criticism, and produce their own films for exhibition locally and at film festivals across the region.
Dean Peter Miene of the College of Liberal Arts added, “We are honored and grateful to receive the Milgrom film book collection. I see this generous donation as a strong testimony to the outstanding work of the talented faculty and creative students in the WSU Film Studies program.”
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