Desmet Collection

EYE Film Institute Netherlands   |   Netherlands

The Desmet Collection, including more than 900 vintage nitrate prints, and paper related documents like posters, stills all from the period of 1907-1916 arrived to the Nederlands Filmmuseum in 1958, immediately after Jean Desmet passed away. All the films are on 35mm. nitrate stock, full frame, in the version of Dutch distribution prints; thus often colored (tinting, toning, stenciled, etc.) and with Dutch intertitles. This collection includes 'foreign films'; mainly from France, Italy, USA and Germany. Since the early 1980's on, the collection has been inventorized, catalogued, restored and screened for the public. The international recognition for the collection came with the 1984 screenings at the Giornate del Cinema Muto festival and later on, in 2003 with the book published by Prof. Ivo Blom: Jean Desmet and the Early Dutch Film Trade (Amsterdam Univ. Press), culminating in the 2011 inscription onto the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. In 2011, the Desmet Project has received a boost due to the recognition of the Desmet collection by Memory of the World, challenging EYE Film Institute to continue and enlarge its efforts. Currently the films are being shown on several international venues (such as the MoMA in NY, where 40 early European comedies from the Desmet Collection will be screened in March 2012). EYE is also currently experimenting with online access to the films, and to the paper documents, with the ambition to make this international heritage collection globally available . Further Information 1. Describe the element/s used for resoration, stating gauge and nature and specfic problems associated with them (up to 100 words): Over the decades, all the films are restored onto 35mm polyester film, full aperture, with as little interference as possible, as part of the Jean Desmet legacy, thus faithfull to their Dutch distribution versions. Over the years some films have been restored in b/w, other though interneg>color print. In the last decade, all the tinted material is restored using dup neg (b/w)> color print using Desmet color method. The main laboratory has been Haghefilm Laboratories. The restored versions have been scanned to digibeta quality. The nitrate prints are kept in acclimatized vaults, as well as the duplicates. Except 30 films, all the films (900) have also projection prints. Nearly all the films are already available as scans on digibeta quality, (a project to re-scan all the preservation elements at 2K resolution is still ongoing. These scans that will make the digibeta's redundant are kept as LTO tapes and also stored on server. Also the paper collections have been worked upon in the last three decades. In 2010 the complete company papers (more than 100.000 documents) were scanned to save them from paper decay.