We are happy to present a brief report of the ACE workshop, which took place during Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna and concerned the access, exhibition and distribution of film heritage in the 21st century.
The workshop took place on the 25th of June at MAMbo, Museum of Modern Art, in Bologna with the participation of Camille Blot-Wellens, Leontien Bout, Mariona Bruzzo Llabiera, Thomas Christensen, Nina Goslar and Kerstin Herlt.
In 2008 ACE started the European Film Gateway project, which made our film heritage available online. Many other initiatives followed during the years, such as the EFG/World War I project and I-Media Cities. This workshop served as an opportunity to look in depth at what ACE archives have achieved so far and what they want to accomplish in the future.
Nina Goslar from ZDF/ARTE has been chosen as this workshop keynote speaker as she is a long-time programmer and a pioneer in the field. The work ARTE does to support the archives’ work and to make it available to the masses is unprecedented. Unfortunately, not many TV channels are interested in narrating film history, especially the European one. Tv channels are at war for their audience, film archives are at war to preserve an audience. “In favor of film culture, we must find new ways to support movie heritage”, this is her plea. Two main issues undermine movie archives’ work at the present time: the scarce financing caused by a non-favorable political line and few opportunities to reach audiences in smaller cities where there are no festivals, museums or screenings. All film archives should unite to combat the political pressure and ask for a more consistent support for their craft. She concludes her speech with a key phrase that summarizes ACE’s mission: “Film heritage exists and should be accessible”.
Kerstin Herlt from DFF – Deutsches Filminstitut & Filmmuseum presents the Europeana publishing guidelines to European Film Gateway partners and interested archives. The aim of these guidelines is to improve the quality of data on the archive, so that it can more easily be accessed and shared with education and research communities. One of the most notable initiatives carried by EFG is the World War I project, a curatorial project with more than 53,000 videos made available. Kerstin Herlt highlights the importance of fixing broken links on the website.
Camille Blot-Wellens and Mariona Bruzzo present the results of I-Media Cities, the latest European project involving nine film archives. A digital platform in order to be able to visualize city films with the aim of encouraging research in the humanities field. Over one thousand films have been put on the platform, especially chosen to give meaning to the project. What does it mean for us to make film heritage online? How can archives transit their knowledge to researchers and common users? These are just two of the main questions at the core of I-Media Cities. The legal status of the works chosen is important: many researchers initially preferred titles in a public domain in order to create a more homogeneous platform among researches, citizens and educators. However, these works only represent a small percentage of the final selection for many reasons, such as the scarce number of movies actually in public domain since cinema is a relatively new art. Once every curatorial aspect was taken into consideration, it was important to make the data homogeneous alongside the different archives. One of the key aspects emerged from the research is the lack of information about the materiality of the film heritage archives make available online. Details such as print, aspect radio, speed can be forgotten if the audience enjoys the material from a digital screen. These technical aspects are also important, as they explain a lot about each film and its cultural and social context. Archives should not only give access to film heritage, but also create awareness and consciousness.
Leontien Bout from Eye Filmmuseum in Amsterdam explains the legal aspects of making heritage, including orphan works, accessible to a wider audience. She highlights the importance of mutual confrontation between archives and the new digital single market directive.
Thomas Christensen leads the most interactive section of the workshop. “How we present films online is at the core of what all ACE members do. […] Maybe the collections we take care of have not the best financial potential, but they have value in other ways”, he explains. It is important to fight for culture, to improve the lives of citizens. In order to make film heritage more “appealing” to the general public, it is also possible to share legends and myths from the archives. Film heritage being available online is just the starting point, it is useful to suggest new ways to use this material in a curatorial and editorial manner.