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Sunday, 4 February 2018

National Film & Sound Archive - Excited chatter from the internet about the CEO's new plans

Jan Müller, the new CEO of the National Film & Sound Archive, recently gave his first report to NFSA staff. It was picked up in a story in The Canberra Times and you can read it in the online edition here. The Film Alert 101 blog also reported on it here.

Jan Muller (pictured at the Netherlands Institute of Sound & Vision)
A Facebook share led to a number of comments being posted and they are collected here to add to the debate that needs to take place to gather public support for the Federal Government to stump up the money for these essential purposes


Dominic Case (former NFSA staff member and Board Member of the AFC):
Bold, courageous and ambitious indeed. Jan Muller's track record in Amsterdam makes him possibly the only person who could set these ambitions, let alone pull them off. The new building and suggested location may be controversial - but shouldn't be allowed to detract from the BIG story - his ambition for a fully digitised collection by 2025. That absolutely needs to be done - and it will take big resources (not even just money) to digitise everything, let alone to hold and maintain the digital assets. Let's get behind this!

Andrew Pike (Historian, distributor, CIFF Director):
I agree that digitising the archive by 2025 is a great goal and needs support, BUT, it is meaningless without intensive public programs and vastly improved public access. Dumping it all on-line for streaming will not serve anyone well because so many of the older films need contextualisation to make any sense, so documentation, research and public programs need to be creatively developed parallel with digitisation ... There have to be screenings, publications, exhibitions, real and meaningful engagement with educational institutions at all levels, and a real understanding of audience needs and how the market-place works. The NFSA won't work if it is an inward-looking, technology-led institution.

Peter Hourigan (critic, teacher and longtime cinephile):
Digitising is important. But because it's not the original format for many of the archive's responsibilities, preservation of FILM is also important, arguably more so, and must be part of any vision.

Dominic Case:

Relying to Andrew and Peter . . . I don't for a moment suggest that digitising is an end in itself, and my understanding of Jan Muller's previous statements is that he doesn't either. He takes it as a natural prerequisite for the sorts of access and public programming that Andrew writes of. And I think I (of all people) have been on the record for the last 20 years (at least) stressing the importance of preservation of “film” in its original medium. There are overwhelming aesthetic, technical and even semiotic arguments for this. The film part of NFSA's collection, once scanned, would surely occupy the greatest number of Terabytes: but it's not the greatest number of items.
Overall, it's good to see a little public airing of the enormity of the task for the NFSA, and perhaps a discussion of the sort of costs that will be involved. Let's do it!


Noel Bjorndahl: (critic, teacher and longtime cinephile)
This is cheering me up no end

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