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The Jorge Prelorán Collection

This collection contains edited films and videos, film outtakes, audio tapes, still photographs, digital books, personal and professional correspondence, film production records, scripts, and extensive press clippings spanning nearly fifty years, from 1954 - 2005.

The majority of Prelorán's films were shot in the Andean highlands and in the Pampas (plains) of Argentina, often in rural communities of mixed Indian and Spanish heritage. He documented a wide range of subjects, including art, religion, folklife, cultural and social change, and natural history. Prelorán often formed close friendships with the subjects of his films and maintained these relationships through visits and written correspondence long after the films were completed.

These friendships are reflected in the paper records, as is Prelorán's wide circle of colleagues and collaborators, including anthropologists, musicians, painters, historians, writers, photographers, current and former students at UCLA, and fellow filmmakers. The extensive collection of press clippings, screening notices, and festival catalogs documents Prelorán's influence in Argentina, Europe, and the United States.

In a series of digital books, Prelorán presents the personal stories of a diverse group of teachers, painters, writers, and other creative people, all seeking to express themselves through their work. A number of the books update or expand on the stories of individuals who were already profiled in his films.

    The Jorge Prelorán Collection contains:
  • • 50 films and 1 film series
  • • 22,000 feet of 16mm film outtakes (10 hours)
  • • 412 hours of audiotape
  • • 23 linear feet of papers and photographs
  • • 31 digital books

Edited Films

50 completed films and 1 film series

sihsfa_2007_10_31aJorge Prelorán completed more than 60 films during his career. He deposited 50 of these films and one multi-part film series at the HSFA. The films have a wide range of subjects and styles, including experimental and fiction in addition to the documentary and ethnographic material Prelorán is best known for. His non-fiction films cover subjects such as art, folk crafts, agriculture, ranching, markets, religious rituals and festivals, and many aspects of daily life. His fiction and experimental films explore morality, humor, and the creative process itself. A number of the films are available in both Spanish and English.

Browse the online catalog records and watch clips and full films in the Screening Room.

Film Outtakes

22,000 feet of 16mm film (10 hours)

sihsfa_2007_10_19e_sm"Outtakes" refers to footage that was not used in any edited film. Since many of Prelorán's films document lifeways that have undergone significant change, the outtakes add to this documentation and therefore have a high research value.

Read more about the outtakes in the finding aid.

Audio Recordings

412 hours of audiotape

sihsfa_2007_10_39_10The audio recordings include: interviews with film subjects, dialog, and ambient sounds, as well as music and religious rituals. There are also several interviews with Jorge Prelorán discussing his work.

A number of recordings capture endangered languages, notably Quichua, spoken by the Otavalo Indians of Ecuador, and Warao, spoken by the Warao Indians of Venezuela. Visit the Screening Room to hear Quichua being spoken in Zulay Frente al Siglo XXI.

Read more about the audio recordings in the finding aid.

Papers & Photographs

23 linear feet of papers and photographs

sihsfa_2007_10b_calendarThe paper records include: personal and professional correspondence; film production records; scripts; funding proposals and reports; and extensive press clippings. These records provide context for the films and insight into how Prelorán worked, including the inspirations and motivations for his projects. They also document the long-term friendships Prelorán had with many of the subjects of his films, and the close collaborations he had with a diverse group of professionals in the arts and social sciences. The photographs offer glimpses of Prelorán at work and add to the documentation of the people and places he filmed.

Read more about these materials in the finding aid.


31 digital books

sihsfa_2007_10c_books_smIn 1992, Prelorán began exploring books as a storytelling medium.  By 2008 he had created more than 30 digital books, each focused on an individual.  Most of the books are based on oral histories or interviews conducted with the subject and/or their relatives and friends.  The books are highly visual, incorporating photographs, drawings, and paintings.  Prelorán intended for the books to be used as part of a school curriculum that would teach students about the value of oral histories and approaches to storytelling, allowing them to create their own books and document their own histories. 

View one the books in the Reading Room.

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National Museum of Natural History | Department of Anthropology | Collections and Archives Program