Article on National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

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Brooksie

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Article on National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

PostSat Apr 15, 2017 11:25 am

Technically this article is behind a paywall so I won't post it in full, but it's of the 'read three articles per month for free' kind, so most people should be able to access it:

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2017/04/15/restoring-the-national-film-and-sound-archive/14921784004497

It details the lamentable state of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia which, after slowly gaining a head of steam with some good screening and outreach programs, was seriously defunded back in 2015 and is today a husk of itself - no gift shop, few new releases, a trickle of restorations (and very, very few of these silents).

I particularly echo the concerns of Anthony Buckley that the entire catalogue of Cinesound Productions - which Buckley himself rescued from near certain oblivion - remain unavailable to the public (although I understand there is a copyright tussle, not mentioned here, which further complicates matters). Just imagine if Britain could not see a single Ealing film outside of the occasional grainy internet upload? That's the situation faced by Australians. A very big slice of our filmic history is going unseen and unappreciated.

I also support the calls of Ray Edmondson - essentially the founder of the archive - for a bigger presence for the archive in Sydney. As he says, “An archive without a diversity of public access programs is just a warehouse for dead film.”
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Donald Binks

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Re: Article on National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

PostSat Apr 15, 2017 4:28 pm

Brooksie wrote:Technically this article is behind a paywall so I won't post it in full, but it's of the 'read three articles per month for free' kind, so most people should be able to access it:

https://www.thesaturdaypaper.com.au/2017/04/15/restoring-the-national-film-and-sound-archive/14921784004497

It details the lamentable state of the National Film and Sound Archive in Australia which, after slowly gaining a head of steam with some good screening and outreach programs, was seriously defunded back in 2015 and is today a husk of itself - no gift shop, few new releases, a trickle of restorations (and very, very few of these silents).

I particularly echo the concerns of Anthony Buckley that the entire catalogue of Cinesound Productions - which Buckley himself rescued from near certain oblivion - remain unavailable to the public (although I understand there is a copyright tussle, not mentioned here, which further complicates matters). Just imagine if Britain could not see a single Ealing film outside of the occasional grainy internet upload? That's the situation faced by Australians. A very big slice of our filmic history is going unseen and unappreciated.

I also support the calls of Ray Edmondson - essentially the founder of the archive - for a bigger presence for the archive in Sydney. As he says, “An archive without a diversity of public access programs is just a warehouse for dead film.”



It's depressing reading, but even back in the 1980's when I was dealing with the archive, there was never enough income to be able to do all that was needed, although in the 1980's material did find its way on to VHS tapes and public broadcasting. (I think that the early 1980's were the last time the Cinesound films of Ken Hall were broadcast - on SBS).

I had a friend who donated his entire gramophone record collection to them in the 1970's when he carked it. Some of these were extremely rare items, including a whole swathe of "Fonotipia's". They were left sitting on a damp warehouse floor in vertical piles, completely uncared for as there was no one around to look after them.

I don't know why they need a special building in Sydney - if they need an outlet in a heavily populated city? There is already the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne - with which they are supposed to have a liaison. I would have thought that there was plenty of room at ACMI for a gift shop and what have you - there is already a large cinema in the complex? To me, what is needed primarily is a place where films can be restored and staff to do the work - which I presume is what they already have in Canberra.

Like a lot of Government run departments it seems to me that at times the NFSA is top heavy on management, with more money being spent on people shuffling papers around than actually paying for the work that needs to be done.

Kickstarter campaigns and more encouragement from the private sector to contribute - particularly the broadcasting industry that is not already contributing would be the way to go, if the Government is going to continually cry poor.

There doesn't seem to be any movement on from the thinking back in the '60's when most of the ABC's sound archive was used as filler on the roads in King's Cross, Sydney
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Donald Binks

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