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Philippine Film Archiving Institutions Seek To Stand The Test Of Time

Philippine film archiving institutions seek to stand the test of time

FILM Archives in the Philippines hopes to improve its skills and resources to preserve the country's audiovisual heritage despite the pandemic and economic crisis. According to archivists, during a forum hosted by the Philippine Film Archives Society (SOFIA) at the Cinema Center in Manila on October 27.

Our challenge is to provide a safe space for videos and movies with the right temperature, control and humidity. Fernando Poe Jr. (FPJ) archivist Jeffrey S. Sonora at the event: "If we save on this, we won't have anything in the next 10-20 years." He wanted a fridge to store movies.

In particular, FPJ archives are working on technologies such as industrial refrigeration insulated panels and thermal imaging cameras for leak detection. It has also turned to solar energy to help cover cooling costs.

“It takes 32 hours to scan a 2,000-foot roll of film. Typically, when using six-roll film, it only takes 192 hours to scan each film,” Mr. Sonora added, speaking of the laborious process of film storage and retrieval.

Julie Ann S. agreed. Nilija, head of the investigation archives, argued that it was important for the archive to have its own equipment. The Probe Group, which screened documentaries from 1988 to 2004, is working to digitize 14,000 Umatic, mini DV, betacam and tapes by 2025 using their digitizer.

"It's not just archival material," he explained. "Probe has produced fact-based documentaries and stories, and preserving them will help fact-check in the modern age."

Zond is currently streaming programs that put his old documentaries in context on social media.

Archive optimization
As part of a program to improve the Mowelfund Audiovisual Library and Archive, the Mowelfund Film Institute (MFI) also contributes to the preservation of important pieces of film history. After the pandemic, it reinvented its materials and updated its database software to enhance remote sensing.

The institute also has a short film digitization project focusing on 16mm, 35mm and 8mm ultra-high quality films produced by Mowelfund in collaboration with the Philippine Film Archive (PFA).

“The point is that you can do a search with our materials, but even our archival experts are not aware of what we have,” Ricky Orellana, MMI Director and Archive Specialist, said at the same event.

We are sitting on a goldmine, said director and film historian Nick de Ocampo.

Meanwhile, the PFA is trying to catch up with the Film Development Council of the Philippines (FDCP), although it was only formalized in 2011 and inactive until 2018. Private institutions have always filled in the gaps in archives left by the state. .

“We have done a good job gathering all of this material, but preparing the archives to preserve the collection requires a lot of resources,” said Don Gervin T. Aravan, PFA Division Chief.

He added that the greatest enemy of all archivists is time, because films are gradually deteriorating every day. To speed up the transition from analog to digital archives, inter-institutional collaboration, such as SOFIA-supported archive negotiations, should be encouraged.

Film archives in other countries have undergone the digitization process and are now returning their content to film. We are also struggling to get to that point.” It costs around 1.5-2 million R$ to develop each film.

Like other archives, PFA makes its collections available to researchers through a local media library and catalog. Another project in progress, the Film Heritage Building, is being studied for a property lease in Intramuros. - Bronte H. Laxamana

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