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UNESCO World Audio Visual Archive Day Report

27 October 2008

On the 27 th October, BAFTA hosted the second annual UNESCO World Audio Visual Archive Day in partnership with FOCAL International.

Sue Malden (Chair of FOCAL International) introduced the evening by speaking about the problems that audio visual archives are facing, mentioning other events going on around the world to celebrate World Audio Visual Archive Day as well as reading the message from Mr Ko ïchiro Matsuura (Director-General of UNESCO) written for the occasion. Mr Matsuura said that ‘the collective memory of the different peoples of the world provides the foundation for sustainable development…but that memory needs to remain accessible’. He also stressed the importance of preservation and that ‘audiovisual records are far more endangered’ than documents and as well as there being many diverse factors affecting this type of archive, which need ‘the allocation of the human and financial resources for preservation so that future generations may benefit from the legacies of the past’.

Karena Smith (BAFTA Archive Manager) began by talking about the history of BAFTA’s archive and gave an update on the progress being made with the digitisation. This was able to start thanks to a £30,000 grant from the David Lean Foundation, which allowed the purchase of equipment, digitisation of 1,000 black and white stills from awards ceremonies (1950-1990) and the creation of pages on the BAFTA website, which give a window into the archive holdings. The primary aim of digitising the archive is to provide access to those in education and the wider public. Working through projects BAFTA intends to “open up “ the holdings and through one initiative select audio form being made available to the public on iTunes early next year and is also exploring educational and commercial partnerships. The BAFTA Archive is now well on the way to promoting its small, but fascinating collection.

Roger Laughton CBE
Roger Laughton CBE (Deputy Chair and Trustee of the BFI) came to speak about how the BFI is spending the £25 million grant awarded to them last year by the DCMS. He said that archives are stores, museums and digital portals, which should be ‘beacons of interpretation and of curatorship’ and highlighted some of the issues regarding digitisation, digital storage and funding. Outlining the National Strategy for Screen Heritage, Roger said that Phase One is well under way - the education project are producing some good proposals in order to capture the public’s imagination and address a specific learning objective; the digitisation group are making good progress towards creating a union catalogue (meaning that we will all be able to know what is held in the nation’s public film archives and how to access them); each region has identified key collections and are assessing their own needs and proposing their own solutions, rather than there being a central approach and there is now a detailed plan for a major acetate film store at Gaydon (it is also hoped that there will be enough money to improve the BFI’s nitrate storage as well).

Roy Lockett
Roy Lockett (Chair of the BECTU History Group) spoke about the oral history project, which began recording interviews in 1987. After 22 years, the Union has over 600 interviews the earliest are sound only, but since 1998 have been recorded on film. The BECTU History Group is an important part of the nation’s heritage, with writers, directors, camera operators, and many more industry professionals giving interviews and their time to the project, making it is an insightful and interesting social document of our times.


Richard Daniels
Richard Daniels from the Stanley Kubrick Archive (which is housed in the London College of Communication, part of the University of the Arts) gave an insight into this private collection presented to the University by Kubrick’s family. The archive has been open to researchers since October 2007 and has several public open days a year, as well as being readily available to students of the University, who integrate material from the archive into their courses. They have also been involved with several exhibitions, including Stanley Kubrick 2008: a film odyssey at the Barbican film festival, which displayed materials from and inspired the archive.


To end the event, Anne Cafferky Head of Production, Pett Productions introduced the FOCAL awarding film Memoirs of a Cigarette (winner of Best Use of Footage in an Entertainment Production).

Also on display were items from the Ronald Grant Cinema Museum and the BAFTA Archive.

Ronald Grant (right)

The evening was an interesting and informative glance into the archives represented and it is hoped that next year’s event will be just as enjoyable.

- Gemma Harrison, BAFTA -