In late 2014, Levi Bettwieser bought 31 undeveloped rolls of film at an auction in Ohio. They turned out to be photos from World War II.
“I knew that I potentially had something special just from the look of the rolls themselves and what was written on them,” says Bettwieser. “But you never know what you’re going to get because obviously you have no idea what the condition of the images might be that are still on the film.”
About two years ago, Bettwieser, a video producer and film photographer in Boise, Idaho, founded The Rescued Film Project to salvage undeveloped rolls of film from around the world.
The rolls had hand-written notes that hint at what they might contain, but most are labeled with various location names, like LaHavre Harbor, Lucky Strike Camp or Boston Harbor. “One was labeled ‘Roll of French Funeral,’ and so we were able to actually recover some funeral pictures of a French officer,” Bettwieser says.
From the beginning, Bettwieser has funded the project with his own money.
“This is not my full-time job, I also have a full-time job sustaining myself,” says Bettwieser. “I have spent thousands of dollars of my personal funds to fund the project just because I believe in it, and it’s a passion project. The cost does not make any difference to me – you can’t put a price on the value of saving these images.”
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