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3 March 2014


After a lifetime in the Czech National Film Archive, Vladimir Opela, the man who ‘initiated’ UNESCO’s World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, will receive FOCAL International’s Lifetime Achievement Award at the gala ceremony on 30th April. Tickets for the FOCAL International Awards in association with AP, hosted by television history presenter Dan Snow, are now available.

London, UK – 3 March 2014 – FOCAL International announced today that Vladimir Opela, a tireless advocate for film preservation in both his native Czechoslovakia and abroad, would receive the FOCAL Lifetime Achievement Award 2014. Opela will be honoured at the FOCAL International Awards, presented in association with AP Archive on the evening of the 30 April 2014 at a glittering award ceremony hosted by television history presenter Dan Snow at the Lancaster London Hotel. Tickets are available now.

“As the Curator of Czech National Film Archive, where he has served since 1965, as well as internationally through his work at UNESCO, Opela has been a stalwart defender of our collective visual heritage and force for good in the archive community for nearly half a century,” said Sue Malden, Chair FOCAL International. “We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to recognize his achievements and contributions to the preservation of our audiovisual legacy.”

Opela, now 76, began his career at the Czech National Film Archive in 1965, where he now serves as Curator. Under Opela’s leadership, hundreds of hours of precious film material have been restored, and the Prague archive endures as a unique national collection of film from the birth of cinema up to the modern day, providing a visual historical record of developments not only in Czechoslovakia, but also across Central Europe and beyond.

During his nearly half century of service to the National Film Archive, Opela has twice saved precious historical collections from destruction, fending off communist party censors as they sought to confiscate “counter-revolutionary” historical images from the archives. In the years following the fall of communism across Eastern Europe, when the privatization of state property was all the rage, Opela managed not only to keep the film collections of the National Film Archive intact, but also safeguarded its status as a national institution.

In addition to his work at the National Archive, Opela has been a leading member of both the national and international archive community. He’s been an active member of FIAF since 1979, serving as Vice-President from 2007 to 2011 and conceived the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, adopted worldwide in 2007. In his works with ACE (the Association of European Film Archives and Cinematheques), Opela has helped create new archives in former Yugoslavia and in East Europe. He also created The Charter of Film Restoration with Vittorio Boarini of Bologna, organised an Oral History group and, most importantly, established a new archive of amateur and family films.

A respected educator, Opela has given lectures on film archiving and restoration at the famous Czech film school FAMU and also teaches at the Faculty of Philosophy of Charles University. He has delivered lectures at many international gatherings from Berlin to Tokyo and Taipei and has promoted archive projections with lectures at the Prague based Film Institute.

His influential writings on film terms, handling, preservation and storage, as well as cinematographers and costume and set designs, have been published in many languages and remain in wide circulation. He has published the Catalogue of Czech Feature Films, initiated publication of the Czech-English Film Yearbook and many other publications.

Opela has won international awards in Italy, France, Tokyo, Poland, Russia, Germany and, in his own country, he’s been awarded the Minister of Interior’s medal ‘For merit in Czech archiving’ (2008); the Minister of Culture’s award for his ‘contribution to Czech culture development’; and the award of the Czech Director and Screen-writer Association – ARAS (2012). Opela is also an honorary member of Czech Archival Association (2012).

In addition to the Lifetime Achievement Award, to be presented 30th April 2014 at a glittering award ceremony at the Lancaster London Hotel, winners of the other 17 categories will be honoured.

A full list of all submissions, synopses and credits can be viewed on the FOCAL website Final nominations will be announced 5th March.

The Awards evening includes a drinks reception, three course meal and after party. Ticket prices start at £90.00 per person for FOCAL International individual members, with tables of 10 available from £1000.00 to £1600.00 (all prices are quoted ex-VAT). For tickets go to

Any company interested in sponsorship opportunities at the Awards ceremony should contact FOCAL International, or +44 (0)20 3178 3535.

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The Federation of Commercial Audiovisual Libraries International is a professional not-for-profit trade association formed in 1985. It is fully established as one of the leading voices in the industry, with a membership of over 300 international companies and individuals.
Its purpose is to facilitate the use of library footage, images, stills and audio in all forms of media production; promote its members - libraries selling content plus those whose serve the industry; provide a platform for members to promote themselves and their interests; encourage good practise in the research, licensing, copyright clearance and use of footage; support, promote and educate on the need to preserve and restore footage and content; act as an information resource for the footage and content industry; offer training in key skills and in the broader appreciation of the footage and content industry.