SECOND CENTURY FORUM
To wonder about the past and the future of film archives is first to re-envision our present as a moment of transition characterized by its instability. The transformations taking place now are not only technical. They may even go so far as to affect the very identity of archives.Moderator: Frédéric Maire (Director, Cinémathèque suisse; President FIAF)
The identity and missions of national film archives were constructed in specific original contexts, different for each of them. Institutional histories are always social histories, going beyond the strict domain of archives. Political, economic, educational, or religious contexts have played important roles that still condition their contemporary and future development.Moderator: Christophe Dupin (Senior Administrator, FIAF)
Certain collections have a singular status within an archive. Camera collections, "non-film" collections, or substandard media present specific problems for restoration, treatment, and valorisation/promotion. Digital technology can help to simplify those problems, but can also, in some cases, complicate them.Moderator: Laurent Le Forestier (Professor, University of Lausanne)
Rethinking the future of film archives cannot be abstract: certain institutions, through the unique characteristics of their missions, are confronted with specific problems. Broad or limited, homogenous or transversal, these collections of specialized archives thus confront common issues that are decisive for their evolution.Moderator: Benoît Turquety (Professor, University of Lausanne)
The FIAF brings together film archives from every continent. That extraordinary geographical diversity leads to a great variety in the way those archives fit in with their local economic, political, and cultural environments. Those contexts create different histories and require imagining possible futures very differently in each case.Moderator: Caroline Fournier (Head of the Film Department, Cinémathèque suisse)
The transition we are currently experiencing has seen us switch, in just a few years, from an analogue universe to an entirely digital one. The speed of technical changes, and the sudden emergence of new possibilities, force us to pose once again the fundamental questions that orient our work -- questions that each concrete project formulates differently.Moderator: Haden Guest (Director, Harvard Film Archive)
Programming is a fundamental part of film archive work. In these times when digital technology seems to be transforming access to collections, programming is still a critical avenue for reflection about the role of film libraries in culture. By re-examining the history of archives -- within the FIAF and elsewhere -- we can rediscover singular research and undertakings that still present original approaches for the future of programming in film libraries.Moderator: Chicca Bergonzi (Deputy Director, Head of the Programming and Distribution Department, Cinémathèque suisse)
The digital transition has transformed every aspect of archive activity, but it has surely upset how we access films the most. Catalogues become visible as platforms, allowing for a new circulation of data. This unprecedented visibility may provide film libraries a more central position in the cultural landscape, but in return it requires a deep rethinking of the relationship between archives and rights holders.Moderator: Jon Wengström (Head of Archival Film Collections, Svenska Filminstitutet)
Working with our colleagues in our sister archival professional organizations in the CCAAA (Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives), we are actively working on identifying and joining forces in addressing the global issues that face archives around the world
In the past four years, FIAF has been active in making CCAAA stronger, more cohesive, with a clearer message and more tangible outcomes. At this time, we would like to address the FIAF Congress and present some of these issues that we have focused on, provide context for what we are doing and get your feedback and thoughts. The Second Century Forum this year will include an overview and presentation of these global issues and then we will have a moderated discussion with our members. The Forum will focus on the work supported by the CCAAA, especially in areas of Archives at Risk, Disaster Preparedness, World Day of Audio-Visual Heritage, the Joint Technical Symposium, Training and Outreach and Memory of the World.
Rachael Stoeltje, Chair of CCAAA will led this Forum and Brecht Declercq, FIAT/ IFTA Secretary General and Pio Pellizzari, IASA Executive committee member, and Madeline Bates (FOCAL) as our CCAAA colleagues will join her and will contribute to the discussions.
Abbreviated history of CCAAA: In 1999, the Roundtable of Audiovisual Records recognized the need to become more proactive in shaping policy, and collaborating for greater preservation efforts worldwide. In 2000, it was reborn as the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA). The CCAAA represents the interests of worldwide professional archive organizations with interests in audiovisual materials including films, broadcast television and radio, and audio recordings of all kinds. Today, CCAAA serves as a bridge, bringing together the eight member organizations tasked with preserving the world's audiovisual heritage.
As all FIAF affiliates know, not that long ago heritage films survived mostly in film libraries and a few specialised cinemas, in film clubs, at the Bologna and Pordenone festivals, on VHS -- and then on DVD.
Today, due in particular to the development of digital formats, "old" films have gradually found new life. The most important contemporary film festivals, such as Cannes and Venice, have created special sections. New festivals have launched, like the Festival Lumière in Lyon, France. "Vintage" theatres have opened. And the distribution of classic films now extends well beyond movie theatres, through digital platforms, be they public or private, specifically dedicated or not.
All of this raises many questions related to the rights to the works and of the filmmakers; the role of institutions that have, for years, preserved the analogue elements of those historic films; the ethics of digitisations and restorations; the way that heritage can and should be presented; and, of course, the preservation of these new digital elements.
Seizing the opportunity presented by the presence at this congress of representatives from dozens of film archives from around the world, and with a panel of guests representing those actors in the heritage field, we are organizing a round table to sketch out a first overview of this "new" market, its potential developments, and the difficulties it faces.
Film archives are currently in a phase of transition, due in particular to the use of digital technologies at every level of their activity. The generalization of new techniques for restoring works, and new ways of distributing, promoting, cataloging, and managing these objects has important repercussions for the work of archivists in every field. This transformation is so important that it may eventually affect the very mission of film archives and the form they take.
This symposium will be an opportunity to discuss together the central questions posed by this transition, placing it in a dual perspective: that of the PAST, looking back to the history of archives, institutions, practices, and values, and that of the FUTURE, attempting to anticipate not only the problems that will need to be resolved, but also the contributions of future techniques and practices related to the cultures of memory and heritage.
An analysis of the context in which certain archives were created, as well as their evolution through the years, could help us foresee the future of our institutions and better imagine their development. For that reason, the symposium aims to encourage thoughtful proposals that attempt a transversal approach taking into account more than just the past or the future.
We hope that proposals for this symposium will, in this perspective, also be attentive to the diversity of film archives, for example at the institutional level (archives created in connection to film clubs and now confronting their disappearance; within universities; at the impetus of governments; etc.) or geographically (have digital technologies encouraged the emergence of new archives linked to a particular place or group; have they created problems related to the reconfiguration of archives that lack sufficient resources, or that have singular formats or corpuses to manage).
Finally, contributions should address what characterizes the missions of archives, as they were defined during the photochemical era and as they are evolving in the digital age.Following are few examples of possible themes - among many others:
Individual contributions should last from fifteen to twenty minutes (excluding questions). Please submit your proposal by summarizing the main arguments of your contribution (in approximately 150 words) and provide a short biography. Proposals must be presented in one of the three languages of the symposium and the FIAF (English, French, or Spanish).
This symposium is an opportunity for discussion and sharing. Therefore, proposals that go beyond mere presentation (of projects, for example) are strongly encouraged. During the submission and feedback period, symposium organizers and the expert committee may provide candidates with comments and suggestions in order to develop a symposium program that is both complex and compact. Some proposals may be recommended for other events during the congress, while others may be refused.
Proposals must be submitted to this address: [email protected]
New proposal submission deadline: 15 december 2018
Response from organizers: 31 janvier 2018 / 31 January 2018
Cinémathèque suisse and Department of Film History and Aesthetics of the University of Lausanne (UNIL)
Chicca Bergonzi, Head of Programming and Distribution, Cinémathèque suisse
Christophe Dupin, Senior Administrator, FIAF
Caroline Fournier, Head of the Film Department, Cinémathèque suisse
Haden Guest, Director, Harvard Film Archive
Laurent Le Forestier, Professor, University of Lausanne
Benoît Turquety, Professor, University of Lausanne
Jon Wengström, Head of Archival Film Collections, Svenska Filminstitutet
In Switzerland, the Canton of Vaud and the City of Lausanne host two institutions that are leaders in the development of research in film and film preservation: Cinémathèque suisse, on the one hand, and the University of Lausanne, with its Department of Film History and Aesthetics in the Faculty of Arts, on the other. Enjoying historical connections with Cinémathèque suisse, the University of Lausanne offers a full university program in film studies - the only such degree course in French-speaking Switzerland - from bachelor's to doctoral degrees. Since 2010, the relationship with Cinémathèque suisse has been considerably strengthened thanks to a partnership that provides both parties new strength and scope: the Collaboration UNIL+ Cinémathèque suisse.
The partnership between Cinémathèque suisse and UNIL, not just a matter of geographic proximity, owes much to Freddy Buache, who worked from the 1950s onward to encourage a scholarly approach to cinema, but also for closer relations with university education. In 1966, the introduction of film studies at UNIL - in the form of a class on the sociology of film taught by Professor Alphons Silbermann - was already based on an active collaboration with the nearby institution. In 1984, Freddy Buache developed a class in film history at the Cantonal School of Fine Arts - now the ECAL - then continued it at UNIL, and is still teaching it today, nearly 35 years after he created it! In 1990, the Department of Film History and Aesthetics was quite logically founded under the auspices of the Cinémathèque, with the creation of a chair attributed to Professor François Albera. The arrival of Henri Dumont at the head of the Cinémathèque in 1996 renewed that collaborative dynamic, leading to the publication in 2007 of two essential volumes co-directed with Professor Maria Tortajada, History of Swiss Cinema 1966-2000.
Building on the foundations established by his predecessors, soon after Frédéric Maire became Director of the Cinémathèque, he gave a decisive impetus to the collaboration between the two institutions by defining an ambitious and innovative partnership project with Maria Tortajada, with the support of the Rector of UNIL, Dominique Arlettaz. Launched in 2010, the partnership aims to provide both institutions the means required for the full development of their shared projects, promoting the archives of the Cinémathèque, and organizing joint activities as well as cultural mediation. The originality of the Collaboration is mainly due to the constant interaction between archivists and academics, posited from the outset as a condition of the partnership. By 2018, the Collaboration UNIL+Cinémathèque suisse had already given rise to seven research projects, five of which sought and obtained financial support from the Swiss National Science Foundation. The joint organization of the symposium "From the Past to the Future of Film Archives" (8 & 9 April 2019) is yet another important step in the development of the Collaboration.