Films are not only a vital contemporary form of artistic expression, they are also records of a country’s audio-visual culture. The conservation of current film production is therefore no less important a goal for film archives and filmfunding agencies to pursue than is the funding of new movies. The task of such institutions is a two-fold one: on the one hand, the preservation of primary sources, master prints and distributional materials in order to secure the economic capital of the funded films; and on the other hand, the long-term archival of these materials with a view to preserving the cinematic heritage.
The accomplishment of these tasks was significantly facilitated when in 2004 a law was passed stipulating that for every film funded by the Austrian Film Institute a copy plus further materials must be deposited with Film Archive Austria. Since then, the Film Archive has successfully lobbied for extending this provision to include all film productions funded by the federal states.
Due to the fact that for some years now the majority of films made with public funding have been produced and distributed in digital formats, the Film Archive regards it as an essential part of its mission to provide a professional infrastructure for the long-term archival of digitally-made films. However, the preservation of digital productions presents some difficult challenges. Digital data is extremely fragile, requiring both saving and migrating strategies to guarantee that it will still be accessible via future technologies. Since standardized technologies ensuring the long-term preservation of digital audio-visual data are not yet available, analog films in the form of 35mm prints must still be considered the most reliable archival format.
Mag. Anna Dobringer
+43 (0)1 216 13 00 – 410
Conservation of NORDRAND (A/CH/D 1999) at the saftey-film-depot in Laxenburg