Congratulations to Dr. Lawrence Benaquist of Keene, for spearheading the restoration of the lost Mary Pickford film, “Their First Misunderstanding.”

This is a historically important film, important enough for the Library of Congress to finance a painstaking restoration of it.

The fact that it is screening at Keene State College (for the first time in close to a century) is wonderful press for the town and the school, but especially for the chronically underfunded and neglected film program that Dr. Benaquist created decades ago.

I know firsthand how shabbily the program is treated.

I got my degree there, and returned years later to help introduce digital technology to the curriculum (which came about 10 years late).

All of the problems I suffered as both a student and faculty member revolved around a lack of resources, and a sense that the administration was not really interested in treating the program seriously, or fairly.

Even though the number of Film Majors has exploded in the past decade, the faculty and budget have not been increased as one might expect.

One can easily find many public high schools with far better gear and resources for their students.

I truly hope the current press for Dr. Benaquist helps the administration recognize that their film program is a rare gem among small state colleges, and deserves far better treatment than it has received throughout its existence.


James Steelman

KSC Class of 1996

Brooklyn, NY


James Steelman can be contacted at

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