Wednesday 8 April 2015

A Dissenting view on the need to provide further funding and support for the National Film & Sound Archive

Max Berghouse writesThis will be the first time I think I have ever disagreed with you. The recommendations in your post below are things which while desirable in themselves, are out of temper with the times. 

Public expectation is broadly in line with the view that expenditures have to be lessened – except of course expenditures that concern some particular interest group to which they belong. People are generally irrational.

It really is not so long ago, and certainly within our lifetimes, that film was regarded as totally evanescent and hardly worthy of more consideration. Many people would now see the error of this, but film remains in practically every perspective very much a minority interest. The danger of the suggestions below which is basically 110% solution to the existing problem is that even less will be achieved than currently.

It is simply absurd to suggest that in the general understanding of people, including intellectuals, that film as a resource, once excluding entertainment, is at the same level of cultural heft as the contents of the National Gallery and the National Library. There is a quite clear pecking order which puts painting at the top, followed quite some distance behind by sculpture and then further down by literature (I mean valuable printed material and not merely the contents).

One of the really important aspects of curatorship is the creative ability to let go. In fact I think it is one of the most important aspects of curatorship and the evidence of the past is that far too much of worth is disposed of. That seems to me to be the problem in relation to our film archive in that we really have too much material without clear understanding of what ought to be saved ought to be let go.

I make this comment as a person whom you know the cares desperately about cinema in all its manifestations. My real fear is in relation to the proposals that it will be viewed by "insiders" like politicians as simply another vehicle for more jobs for the boys. Sinecures and self-seeking are altogether too relevant in relation to pretty much every aspect of government involvement with film!

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