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Second Life of Heritage Collections | BAAC Annual Conference

Projects based on historical archives were the main focus of the 14th BAAC annual conference, which this year was hosted in Warsaw by the National Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute (FINA).

Experts from the Baltic region and friends of the Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council (BAAC) met from 11 to 13 October in Warsaw. Here they shared their experiences and explored and exchanged views on the meaning and potential of historical audiovisual archives. Two full conference days were filled with presentations focusing on reconstruction strategies, artistic inspirations and online projects giving second life to AV heritage collections and to prove the educational value of historical archives.

The conference was kicked off by Dagnija Baltiņa from the National Library of Latvia. She presented the Latvian Cultural Canon – a Latvian treasure trove that contains the nation’s most important cultural achievements of all time. The Canon includes treasures from various branches of culture, including moving image, that Latvians are proud of and that should form the basis of cultural experience of every Latvian resident. The creators of the Canon believe that identity can also be built through the past. Therefore it is crucial to create access to the broadest content possible and enrich it with the most accurate context.

Access, content reuse, collaborations with artists and creators were topics tackled in many conference interventions. In his talk Second life of heritage collections – management and use of audiovisual content, Richard Ranft from The British Library spoke about the vast sound archive and ways of use of the collection. Including initiatives like the live BBC radio broadcast at BL or the Composer-in-residence programme. He also gave a sneak peak of a new BL project Unlocking our Sound Heritage. By 2022, The British Library, acting together with 10 partners from all over the United Kingdom, aims to preserve the UK’s most vulnerable and at-risk audio heritage. Hereby creating sustainable centres of excellence in digital audio preservation around the UK. At the same time raising awareness about the richness of the sound collection, by involving new audiences and engaging with their audio heritage in innovative ways. Good luck with the ambitious plan!

Richard Ranft, The British Library.

Jan Philipp Richter from Deutsches Filminstitut introduced the Horizon 2020 founded new European research initiative on audiovisual sources: I-Media-Cities. Led by 9 European Film Libraries, 5 research institutions, 2 technological providers and a specialist of digital business models, the project’s ambition is to share access to and valorise audiovisual content from their collections for research purposes. As an experimental innovation action, the project focuses on the digital content that refers to cities.

I-Media-Cities project trailer

The conference also gave the opportunity to the Polish Film Archive – Audiovisual Institute to reintroduce itself to the community as FINA. FINA was set up in June 2017, as a result of the merger between the National Film Archive and the National Audiovisual Institute. Its mission includes the digitization, archiving, restoration, dissemination, and promotion of Poland’s audiovisual heritage, as well as the promotion of the most precious emanations of film culture. The wide scope of FINA’s interests resulted in a number of presentations: Kazimierz Prószyński and the First Polish Amateur Movie Camera ‘Oko’ (by Monika Supruniuk), the Music in Movement – an interactive guide to contemporary classical music (by Maja Drabczyk), Exhibiting practices and sensual experience of experimental films in the non-cinema environments (by Elżbieta Wysocka) and finally the presentation of the „Culture +” – national program for digitization of cultural heritage of Poland (by Filip Kwiatek).

The third and final day was dedicated to professional visits at FINA, TVP and DI-Factory – three expert centres dealing with digitisation and restoration of the AV footage.

The BAAC annual conference held elections of the new Board during the programme. Congratulations are in place to Maria Mang for being re-elected as the BAAC President and to all new Board Members.

See you next year in Tallinn!

Maria Mang, Estonian Film Museum, BAAC President.

Photo credits: Katarzyna Trzeszkowska, FINA.