About the Fonoroff Collection
Paul Fonoroff began collecting primary sources for the study of Chinese film as a student in the late 1970s, and continued to collect through the following decades as a movie critic and media personality based in Hong Kong. By the time the C. V. Starr East Asian Library, with significant financial support from the College of Letters and Science, acquired the collection in 2015, it contained over 70,000 items, dating from the 1920s into the twenty-first century.
The collection is unusual for its range and for the scarcity of many of the items it contains. Some of the photographs and periodicals are autographed. Some of the scripts are annotated. Some of the shorter-lived periodicals and special publications are found in no other library in North America, and in very few in Asia.
This is due in part because Fonoroff began building his collection at a time when there was little interest in preserving the materials he sought out. The quality of the collection, however, must also be ascribed to Fonoroff's knowledge of the subject matter, his diligence as a collector, and his geographical breadth. He added to his collection in the expected places, where the films were produced—Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan—but also in various parts of Southeast Asia, where they were distributed. And he was omnivorous in his tastes.
By the 1990s, the collection had come to the attention of the press; a decade later, it was being exhibited at film festivals and in galleries in Europe. At Berkeley, it will be used by students and scholars of film as well as other disciplines in the humanities and social sciences.