Cultural diversity

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France ’s culture and communication minister gives a speech to mark the 70th anniversary of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF)

The 64th congress of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) was held at Cinémathèque française in Paris, France, from April 21 to 26, 2008. FIAF, which was founded in Paris in 1938, was celebrating its 70th anniversary in its home town. We would like to bring to your attention the speech given by France’s culture and communication minister, Christine Albanel, on this occasion.

Minister Albanel began by declaring, “I am delighted to be with you this evening to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the International Federation of Film Archives … It’s a great honor for France this week to welcome the 400 delegates of 80 different nationalities, which make up this truly international organization that is FIAF. They all share the same passion for the cinema and the treasures it has handed down to us since it was invented.”

Ms. Albanel stressed the importance that France was giving to conserving, restoring, and broadcasting cinematic heritage. “This is reflected by the government’s strong involvement in this field through the CNC national center for cinematography, Cinémathèque française (whose budget has practically doubled over the past few years), and Bibliothèque nationale de France’s more recent role in promoting French film archives.”

With regard to film heritage, Minister Albanel stated that “it also includes documents that were sometimes insignificant at the time they were made, but which have become valuable eyewitness accounts to the past, like part of the memory of peoples and civilizations that cannot be erased.”

Ms. Albanel then went on to deliver an important message: “the works and materials of the entire world are under your watchful protection. You are their attentive guardians, committed to their dissemination and discovery. You know better than anyone that this heritage is also perishable, and that we must use every new technology available to restore and preserve our artistic treasures against such threats as the dreaded “vinegar syndrome.” Our time is, I believe, better suited than ever to the wider dissemination of heritage works and to their restoration and transfer to new media. The FIAF’s work provides new ways of sharing this collective memory with increasing numbers of people around the world.”

The FIAF website notes that the organization “brings together the world’s leading institutions in the field of moving picture heritage.” Its affiliates “are the defenders of the Twentieth Century’s own art form. They are dedicated to the rescue, collection, preservation, and screening of moving images, which are valued both as works of art and culture and as historical documents.” When it was founded in 1938, FIAF had four members. Today it comprises more than 120 institutions in over 65 countries—a reflection of the extent to which preservation of moving image heritage has become a worldwide concern. The FIAF congress is held annually in one of the federation’s 80 member countries.

We invite you to read Minister Albanel’s speech in its entirety (French only) on the website of France’s culture and communication ministry.