Collectieblog

  • EYE and Il Cinema Ritrovato

    zaterdag 23 juli 2016

    [Official poster Il Cinema Ritrovato 2016]

    It has been over two weeks since this year’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna, Italy, came to an end. The screenings of films from EYE’s collection were a great success, with the whole festival welcoming over 100.000 visitors, both with the enchanting screenings on the Piazza Maggiore as in the cinemas throughout the day. The setting for the festival and its well-known classics might lure one in at first, but the rich and varied program is what keeps both professionals and cinephiles coming back year after year.

    The program ‘Cento Anni Fa’ (Hundred Years Ago 1916) is a yearly returning program that focuses on films that were released a century ago. With titles from the EYE archive such as Artiestenzomerfeest (NL) and Staalfabrieken Krupp (DE), the program with short films from the silent era not only portrays filmmaking during that time, but moreover life during WWI throughout the world.

    In the program celebrating the 100th birthday of the Dada Movement, Bankroet Jazz (NL, 2006) was shown. This film – a co-production of EYE – is based on a film script that came to be known as the first script written in Dutch. It was written by Flemish poet Paul van Ostaijen between 1919 and 1921. Writing from Antwerp and Berlin about a worldwide crisis, the Dadaistic script combines both the chaotic Spartacist revolts in post-war Berlin as well as other tumultuous happenings of the time. The script filmed by Leo van Maaren in 2006, as a found-footage film of 45 minutes, using exclusively material from EYE’s archive. In the light of the global political and financial crisis and particularly the Brexit, the film proved to be surprisingly topical.

      [Piazetta Pier Paolo Pasolini, Bologna, photo by Lorenzo Burlando]

    The carbon projections on the Piazetta Pier Paolo Pasolini, where the Cineteca’s library is situated, were another noteworthy part of the program. In this projector type, a carbon arc (Dutch: booglamp) provides the light for the projection, which was a common practice between roughly 1900 and 1960. The true cinephile could often be found sitting on the cobbles (still smoldering from the Italian summer heat), enjoying not only what happens on screen, but maybe even more so the purring projector behind him.

    [Lumière exhibition entrance, Palazzo Ronzani on background. Photo by me]

    As Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi (EYE's Silent Film curator) mentioned in her blog before the festival started, the opening of the Lumière Brothers exhibition coincided with the festival. This elaborate exhibition can be visited until January 2017, and is housed below the main street of Bologna, right next to Piazza Maggiore. This exhibition is not only full of the Lumière brothers’ inventions, but gives a peek into their family history as well as that of their family business.
    Right next to this underground exhibition space stands a building with grandeur: Palazzo Ronzani. Facing the famous Gothic Palazzo Re Renzo, Palazzo Ronzani was constructed between 1913-1915. The basement of this building is currently being restored to its previous function: a theatre that seats 2000 people. Scheduled to open at Il Cinema Ritrovato’s 2017 festival, this Cinema Modernissimo will mean an immense expansion of capacity. The underground exhibition space will be connected to this new cinema, being on the same level.




    [Source (3x)]

    As you can tell, the city of Bologna, though moderate in size, is interwoven with the festival and its visitors. This can be seen as remarkable since Bologna does not hold a special place in Italian film history. We have to explore the past 30 editions of the festival  to understand how the city  by now has become synonymous with presentation of archival films.

    Starting out as one of several festivals focusing on archival discoveries and film preservation worldwide, Il Cinema Ritrovato was not immediately among the biggest players. Over the years, not only the festival but also its organizer, the Cineteca de Bologna, has become known throughout the world of film preservation. Starting out as a humble city archive, this is certainly praiseworthy. In this, Bologna’s film lab L’Immagine Ritrovata has been of great influence too. Being one of the most acclaimed film labs worldwide, it has worked as a key player in restoring several films for Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Foundation. This non-profit foundation, founded by Scorsese in 2007, makes it its mission to “preserve and restore films from around the world, particularly those from countries which lack the financial or technical means to do so themselves” (source).

    [Scan of 1998 program cover, EYE Collection]

    For many years, EYE Filmmuseum (then the Netherlands Filmmuseum) was a major partner of the Cineteca in organizing the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival each year. This program book from the 1998 edition is an example of that. Both institutes benefited from their joint work on this project and gained international recognition during these years.  EYE continues to be of great importance to the festival and vice versa, with Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi on its artistic committee, and many films from the EYE collection that are part of form the festival’s program each year. To stay on top of what is going on in the field and meet with international colleagues, EYE’s curators, archivists, restorers and other staff members attend Il Cinema Ritrovato yearly.

     [Taken from Il Cinema Ritrovato program – 1995 edition, EYE Collection]


    Peter von Bagh (artistic director of the festival from 2001 until his death in 2014) also played a defining role in the growth of the festival. As a Finnish filmmaker and critic, he worked almost exclusively with archival material (for more about this, see Olaf Müller’s hommage). The 2015 edition of the festival opened officially with a grand gesture: a dedication to Von Bagh’s memory by many friends from the field. Under the title of ‘The 1000 eyes of Dr Von Bagh’, they celebrated his life by exchanging personal memories. Also, Aki Kaurismäki, a friend of Von Bagh’s, introduced his own film Le Mains as a tribute. In previous years, Von Bagh had unsuccessfully tried to get the film for the festival, giving the tribute a personal touch. Being witty though merciless when critiquing films, as an artistic director Von Bagh was first and foremost a cinephile who attracted other cinephiles to the festival. During this year’s festival, a documentary by Tapio Piirainen about the man himself was shown, introducing Von Bagh as “the festival’s forever best friend.”

    Another important influence on the festival and the Cineteca was Vittorio Martinelli (1926-2008). As a collector of Italian silent film and film historian, he worked tirelessly researching the Italian silect film history for his 21 volumes of Il cinema muto italiano (co-edited by Aldo Bernardini). Martinelli inspected many archives around Europe as well as in South America, Mexico and Russia and thereby contributing to the recovery and repatriation of hundreds of both Italian and other films. As a Napoletano, one of his ongoing projects was to find and preserve Naples’ silent films.  For EYE, Martinelli’s help was particularly essential during the identification of the Desmet collection.

    In his name, a fund within the Cineteca library has been set up to protect his rich collection of films, scripts, essays, stills, postcards and festival catalogs. More information on Martinelli, his work for Il Cinema Ritrovato and future projects carried out in his name, see this Cineteca page in Italian.

    Based on these firm fundaments,  today, Il Cinema Ritrovato has become perhaps the most important yearly event for the curators, archivists, preservationists, critics, historians, students and other film aficionados to come together. They attend the festival not only to discuss possible new projects that transcend local or national collaborations, but most importantly to celebrate cinema.

    Many thanks to Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi for helping me with the research for this blog.
     

    collectie, collection, filmfestival, Bologna, Il Cinema Ritrovato, Desmet Collectie, Desmet Collection, Peter Von Bagh, Vittorio Martinelli, Lumière, exhibition, tentoonstelling, carbon arc projection, cinephilia, Bankroet Jazz, Martin Scorsese, World Cinema Foundation, film labs
  • NANG - Issue 0

    dinsdag 12 juli 2016

    The EYE Study magazine collection has gained a new gem: NANG. This brand new magazine has just issued its first edition: “0” (Zero). This “cinema-related publishing project”, as publisher & editor-in-chief Davide Cazzaro calls it, focusses in-depth on specific themes related to cinema in Asia. The plan is to publish just 10 issues: one issue every six months. Remarkable as this might sound, in the light of cinema it makes perfect sense. Cazzaro: “as every true storyteller would tell you, a story should always have a beginning, a middle, and an end – no matter how anticipated or abrupt.”

    By all means, NANG seems the manifestation of a new sort of cinema magazine, right from its first issue. The choice for a paper magazine without any digital counterpart, is admirable: a deliberate choice for a tactile and permanent medium. Much like film perhaps?

     Even more notable is the choice  that is made for terming NANG’s focus as ‘cinema in Asia’ instead of coining the maybe more eminent term ‘Asian cinema’. In line with tendencies we have seen throughout filmmaking worldwide genres, styles, methods and geographical distinctions  have been blurring. Less and less filmmakers have been labeling themselves by the distinctions we were taught in film history class, nor have they been asked to do so. For NANG this means that, as Cazarro explains:

    “Asia, and cinema in Asia, are not singular and fixed but rather plural and fluid (not to mention that what defines “Asia” and “cinema in Asia” in the first place is far from evident or universal). (…) A short note on semantics: cinema in Asia and  Asian cinema will be used interchangeably. Overall, however, preference tends to go to the former particularly when thinking that the latter is often reduced to a catch-all marketing label or a shorthand descriptor for a cinema that is associated with certain feelings of “Asian-ness.”).”

    Although not openly part of NANG’s focus, dealing with issues around exoticism and orientalization in the 21st century is something that might be promising for coming issues and articles by guest writers. Acknowledging the ever present difficulties around this head on, NANG takes a refreshing editorial stance without sacrificing any of the plans it has set out for itself. Interesting in this light is moreover the choice for English and moreover how NANG accounts for this by stating this is purely for an accessibility reason, not a political, cultural or linguistic one.
     

    The magazine’s title, NANG, stands for more explanations than one. Coming from the Thai language, it can simply refer to skin or leather, but moreover can it be explained as to refer to the shadow puppets made from translucent leather used for shadow plays, one of the earliest forms of moving images. Nowadays, ‘nang’ is still used in Thai language to refer to any performance involving light and screen. In this way, the magazine marks itself clearly in the history of cinema in Asia, where shadow plays lay deeply embedded the joint histories of countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand. This historical trace can directly be seen from the magazine's cover: the title is formed by letters that are pressed out of the paper, through which the light falls and plays a shadow game on the first page. Here, history comes together with current day cinema.

    Leafing through a beautifully laid-out, print-only cinema magazine, one could not be any more excited about the coming issues. NANG’s issue 0 gives a glimpse of what the coming three issues will contain: the first (September 2016) will revolve around the theme of screenwriting, the second (April 2017) around the vitality of cinema in current day media environments and the third (September 2017) around fiction.

    Feel welcome to browse through this and forthcoming issues in the EYE Study, opening October 2016. If you are interested in film magazines focusing on cinema in Asia, do check some of the other sources in our library, such as Bioscope: South Eastern Screen Studies and
    the discontinued Osian’s Cinemaya: the Asian Film Quarterly.

    EYE Study, Collection Centre, collectie, collection, collectie-informatie, magazines, tijdschriften, Asia
  • EYE goes Bologna

    woensdag 22 juni 2016

    From June 23 on Bologna will be the dazzling centre of activities for the moving image collection, archive and preservation professionals. On June 23, the 72nd Congress of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) will kick off in Bologna, Italy. The congress, consisting of official meetings and a symposium about archival matters, will gradually give way to the 30st edition one of the biggest preservation film festival of the world; Il Cinema Ritrovato. As every year, EYE Filmmuseum will be in Bologna with films and presentations. EYE's films are mainly from the silent period, and make part of different sub-programs, like '100 years ago;1916', a tribute to Norma Talmadge, celebration of Dada's 100th birthday (in which also the Bankroet Jazz, co-produced by EYE will be screened) and in Lumiere, the 1896 season, where some examples of EYE's earliest films will be screened. The festival dates are June 25 to July 2. The program is online.

    The Lumière Brothers exhibition curated by the Institut Lumière in Lyon celebrates the invention of cinema and will open its doors to the public on June 25 in Bologna.The exhibition will be open until January 2017. Like in the past years, this year too the FIAF Summer School will be convening in the city, to educate and embrace the young generation of film archivists, organized  by the Cineteca.

    EYE is also contributing films to this years festival DVD; Grand Tour Italiano. 9 films from EYE are part of the double DVD on short films showing Italy through the camera lens. Industrie des marbres à Carrare (FR, 1914)Exploitation du sel en Sicile (FR, 1912)Sestri Levante (IT, 1913)De Italiaansche Riviera di Levante (IT, 1912)Fiat (IT, 1925, Istituto Luce) and from the Desmet Collectie, Amalfi (IT, 1910), Il Pescara (IT, 1912)Salti e laghi del fiume Velino (IT, 1912) en Het groote plateau van den Carnische Alpen (FR, 1912)

    A complete overview of the films from the EYE collection at Il Cinema Ritrovato:

    In the program 'The 1896 Season', films from our Mutoscope & Biograph collection:

    Shooting the Chutes 

    Ten Inch Disappearing Carriage Gun Loading and Firing, Sandy Hook

    Stable on fire, A 

    Hard wash, A 

    American Falls, Luna Island, The 

    Dancing darkies 

    Empire state express 

    View on Boulevard, New York City

    Wrestling pony and man  

    Nuit terrible, Une (FR, Georges Méliès)

     

    In the program 'Cento Anni Fa (Hundred Years Ago 1916)':

    Artiestenzomerfeest (NL)

    Camp of gouda (our Belgian refugees in Holland)  

    Heidenröschen (D, Frans Hofer)

    Hawaii: the Paradise of the Pacific (US, Lyman H. Howe)

    Staalfabrieken Krupp 

    Signori giurati (IT, Giuseppe Giusti)

    Jaloersche vrouw, De (onbekend) 

    Uit het leven van twee chimpansees. Napoleon en Sally houden de kogels tegen. (US)

    Entdeckung Deutschlands durch die Marsbewohner, Die (D, Richard Otto Frankfurter, Georg Jacoby)

     

    In Dada:

    Statendam / journaal / Hollandiafilm

    Bankroet Jazz

     

    And in the Norma Talmadge tribute:

    Fathers hatband [Desmet Collection]

    Safety curtain, The

    Lady and her maid, A [Desmet Collection]

    festival, restoration, archives, dvd
  • FoFA in het Journal of Film Preservation nr. 94/April 2016

    vrijdag 10 juni 2016

    The EYE Study is slowly but steadily taking shape in the new Collection Centre. An important part of its rich collection are the film journals and periodicals. One of these, both in print and digitally available at EYE, is FIAF’s Journal of Film Preservation. FIAF stands for the International Federation of Film Archives and was established in 1938 in Paris. Its founding institutions are the British Film Institute in London, the Cinémathèque Française in Paris, the MOMA in New York City, and the Reichsfilmarchiv in Berlin. All were relatively new institutions at the time, with different ideas and goals about film preservation. (The Dutch Filmmuseum was only to be established in 1943, and joined FIAF in 1947). Of the four founders, the Reichsarchiv was the oldest, inaugurated by Hitler in 1933. Not coincidentally, Joseph Goebbels was known to be a film enthusiast with an understanding for its cultural and political and is therefore believed to be one of the motivators behind the Reichsarchiv’s founding.

    In the following years, the war had far-fetching consequences for the cooperation between the FIAF members. Fortunately, after the war, the FIAF members (excluding the Reichsfilmarchiv) re-established their contacts and welcomed new archives as members. These new archives were often set up in the hausse of the post-war years in which national heritage became an important political issue. In the decades that followed, FIAF expanded both in activities and recognition. In 1973 the first FIAF Summer School was held. Ever since, these regular events have helped train archival personnel. In 2015, the number of 155 affiliates was reached, in 74 countries worldwide.

    In 1972 the first issue of the FIAF Information Bulletin was published, which would in 1993 be renamed the Journal of Film Preservation. With issues published twice a year, it provides an international forum for current-day film preservation discussions that range from theoretical to technical and historical aspects of moving image archival activities (source). In the latest issue, EYE and the EYE collection play a prominent role. Ulrich Ruedel, Professor for Conservation and Restoration in Berlin, wrote a review on Jean Desmet’s Dream Factory: The Adventurous Years of Film (1907-1916). This book was published by EYE in 2014 and coincided with EYE’s exhibition by the same name. Ruedel takes readers through the different sections and contributions of the book while at the same time hinting to the importance of the Desmet collection for EYE. Not only did the Desmet films for a great part lay the foundation of EYE's collection in the fifties, it moreover was of great importance for films such as Peter Delpeut’s Lyrical Nitrate (1991), which was reissued on DVD at the time of the exhibition and book launch.

    EYE’s head of Film Conservation and Digital Access Anne Gant has written a case study for a more elaborate article on the FofA group. This group first came together in 2012 and was formed by nine film preservation experts from the field, amongst them Giovanna Fossati, but also preservationists from Cinématheque Française and Library of Congress. Within an informal setting, the group gathers on a yearly basis, and have been discussing the many challenges that film-archiving community is faced with since the move to digital film production.  Examples of this are the availability of raw stock, continuation of laboratory services (for example film lab Haghefilm Digitaal next to the former EYE Collection building at Overamstel) and the manufacturing of film digitization equipment. Other important issues are the imperatives of long-term preservation and staff training. By keeping to its original 2012 agenda (Raw stock; Laboratories; Scanning; Storage; Training and Succession; Formats and Materials), revision and continuous discussion makes for all kinds of impact and results. For more information on FoFA and its agenda, goals and debates, do read the main FoFA article in the latest Journal of Film Preservation issue, written by FoFA’s chair and BFI’s Head of Conservation Charles Fairall.

    Interesting for people curious as to what EYE does regarding these preservation challenges, is Anne Gant’s case study that is one of three to follow Fairall’s text in this issue. Together with Jon Wengström from the Swedish Film Institute, PhD researcher Guy Edmonds from Australia and German conservation & restoration professor Ulrich Ruedel , she shows what digital film production and other facets of the fast-changing field of film preservation can mean for an organization such as EYE. Specifically, she speaks of the shifts in workflows that have come about both in digital and analogue activities. This is directly connected to the project “Images for the Future”, she explains, which had an enormous impact on how the department functions on a daily basis. The other case studies involve early cinema and cognitive creativity (Edmonds), moving image preservation studies at HTW Berlin (Ruedel) and sustaining photochemical laboratory processes in Sweden (Wengström).

    When the EYE Study is up and running in October, feel free to reserve a desk and indulge yourself in this Journal of Film Preservation as well as the rest of EYE’s periodicals collection.

    [For more about the history of FIAF, click here and here.]

     Carpet in EYE Study (still from Man with a Movie Camera, Dziga Vertov, 1929)

    FIAF, EYE Study, Collection Centre, collection, collectie, Dziga Vertov, restoration, technology, collectie-informatie, digitalisering, digitization, Tweede Wereldoorlog
  • Introduction to the life and work of Joost Rekveld

    zaterdag 14 mei 2016

    Joost Rekveld (1970) is a Dutch artist and experimental filmmaker. Since 1991 he has been making abstract films and light installations. In his early days he worked intensively with the medium of film, experimenting with all aspects of the process from printing, to manipulating, to developing the images himself. In 1994 he was already using a computer to make an animation film by writing his own software; a practice he returned to later on in his career.

    #2 by Joost Rekveld VRFLM by Joost Rekveld

     

     

     

     

     

    His works display an intimate and embodied understanding of our technological world. They are deeply inspired by science and technology and the systematic dialogue between man and machine. By exploring the various spatial and sensorial aspects of light projection his works intrinsically relate to the early history of optics and perspective and, in many ways, can be understood as a type of visual music. His animated films are often mechanical compositions whereby the computer acts as a controller, orchestrating the precise movement of each optical element of the film-work or installation. Rekveld’s current works-in-progress include a number of projects that relate to his interest in the nature of “Open-Ended Machines,” the philosophy of technology, and the sensory nature of our material environment.

     

    Over the past three decades Rekveld’s works have been presented at many international festivals. Most of his recent films have premiered at the International Film Festival Rotterdam and His film “#11, Marey <-> Moire” was the first Dutch film to ever be shown at the Sundance Film Festival. As well as festivals he has screened works at a wide range of venues for experimental film, animation and short film including the ICA and the Tate Modern in London, The Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Moderna Museet in Stockholm. He has presented a number of programmes about the history of abstract animation and light art, most prominently the 9th edition of Sonic Acts: Sonic Light 2003. Rekveld has a long history of curating programmes about abstract animation, visual music and the interaction between art and science and he is a regular guest at our weekly EYE on Art series where we present the history of the avant-garde. He has been giving lectures since 1993, and has been teaching interdisciplinary art since 1996. From 2008 to 2014 Rekveld was head of the ArtScience Interfaculty of the Royal Conservatoire and the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. He is currently a board member of Sonic Acts (Amsterdam) and of the Centre for Visual Music (Los Angeles).

     

    The Filmmuseum’s relationship with Joost dates back to 2004 when he was commissioned to curate a program and an installation called “A House in 4 dimensions”. In 2015 Rekveld’s films were added to EYE’s collection and we began the restoration and preservation of a number of his early works. These included #2, 1993, VRFLM, 1994, #5, 1994, and #7, 1996.  The restoration work has been a joint venture between Joost, Simona Monizza, curator of experimental film and Gerard de Haan, the digital grader of Haghefilm Digital; the lab we used for this work. From the beginning we decided to opt for digitally restoring these films as well as producing digital projection copies. Two factors informed this choice. The first is that for most of Joost’s early films there were already existing negatives in relatively good condition; these form good elements for long-term preservation. The second reason was the wish to enhance the screening possibilities of these films in an era where 16mm projection becomes more difficult or unreliable.

    #7 by Joost Rekveld

    In light of the premiere of these restored works, which will take place at EYE on Tuesday 17th May at 19.15 as part of our regular EYE on Art series, Ruth Sweeney asked Joost Rekveld to share his thoughts on the process of preserving his early film works. We’d like to share this short interview with you.

    RS: How do you feel about having your work preserved by a National archive? What is the importance to you of preserving the works in this way?

    JR: Hmm..How do I feel? I feel old! No but seriously…during the preservation process we talked a lot about one of the things that I found rather confronting. That was, especially with my first film #2, that I was more or less forced to revisit the mistakes I made 20 years ago. I mean it was my first film so I had no idea about lots of stuff. Technical things especially I had no clue about at that time. What came across during the preservation is that many parts of the original source material is really underexposed so in the lab you have this experience where somebody is looking at the material and saying “Oh that’s really underexposed!”. So yes, that’s very confronting.

    In general I am very happy that people are interested enough to actually go through with this restoration and preservation work. For me, as a maker, what I like about film is that when they're finished they're really finished. I’m not really keen to be involved again. These are old films. I’m not distributing them myself and I’m happy to leave that to others so I can focus on new work. Im happy that other people can take control of preserving these films in order to keep them alive and make sure they can still be shown. In that light, however, one thing I do find difficult is that preservation is very archive centric. I want to make my work accessible. That’s very important to me.

     

    RS: How did you feel about revisiting your early work with two other people in the room, the curator and the technician, who may have different perspectives and judgments as they are not filmmakers themselves?

    JR: It did feel for me that in some way the restored films are indeed reinterpretations but the aim for me was always to stay as close as possible to the original material and my original intentions. In terms of  preservation the goal for me was always about making these works accessible again in a world where technologies have shifted and evolved quite dramatically. Film used to be an easy choice as a medium but now it’s something that is actually rare. 16mm projections are hard to come by now.

    Back to your question…the preservation process itself was very technical for me. It was about identifying obstacles and looking for solutions. In that sense I didn't feel that the perspectives of the curator and technician were alien, but rather I was happy to use their expertise. I used to be scared of the grading process because it was so expensive but now I know what I want and there has been some progress in my dialog with graders over the past 25 years.

     

    RS: How do you feel about giving over your film cans to the archive and not having the physical film object with you and in your presence?

    JR: I don’t mind really. I’m happy to not have to care so much! If you take the baby metaphor.. the children leave the house and they're on their own. I might be in touch once in a while but yeah..it’s OK they're out the house!

     

    RS: Your early work is defined by the use of the film medium with its laws, rules and flaws, all inherent to the process of filmmaking. With this in mind how do you feel about having these early films now made available on digital format?

    JR: That’s a good question! The thing is they also still exist as prints and these are good enough to project. I wouldn't hesitate if people wanted to show those print versions. I see the digital format as a new version of the film but not a replacement. I also understand that in 25-30 years from now it could be just these digital versions that are the ones that are available. Naturally I have thought about this. What I will say is I used to see myself as a film fundamentalist but that has changed. I now realise that these things are not at all binary. For a long time I've made films writing my own software and code so it isn't necessarily a historical progression for me, but instead this transition to digital is much more fluid.

     

    RS: What were your original expectations when we started with the digital restoration?

    JR: Well not so long ago I had DCPs made of some of my more recent films, for example #11, Marey <-> Moire which was originally shot on 35mm and had a certain aesthetic. I was actually really happy with the results. I will say I do miss the hummmm of the projector with a digital projection but visually, I’d say it’s different but I don’t miss anything.

     

    RS: More specifically, how do you feel about the digital version of #7, one of the more complex films you made as it involves a hand painted roll?

    JR: Yes - that’s a different story! The thing with this film is that it was basically an original that I had given up! I remember bringing it to EYE and thinking you can have it if you want it but to me it looked like a tree trunk because of the way it was all packed together. The paint was totally stuck! I thought I’m never going to touch this myself. I assumed that if we were ever going to restore this that it would have to be from the print copies I made back when I produced the original. In the end we did use the original though and I’m a bit ambivalent about this because unpacking it did do some damage. Sometimes I think maybe we should just roll it up and keep it as a tree trunk! I remember when I made this film. I didn't have money and I wanted to make a 30 minute film as cheap as possible which is why I arrived at this technique with the paint. I was only thinking about production rather than how the film would be stored or preserved. I didn’t store it properly at all and also hardly screened it. The original isn't the most audience friendly film!

     

    RS: Would you say that since you've been through this process of restoring and preserving these early films that you now think more about preservation when making current works?

    JR: Yes. I think I do. With the digital stuff, all the code etc I definitely think about it but I don't have secure practices in place. I lose stuff. Things disappear. Actually it’s hopeless. There’s a media artist called Rafael Lozano-Hemmer who makes very complicated installations involving technology and he has an amazing guide on how to preserve your work as a media artist. It’s amazing, very wise. I do think about formats too. I only use open source formats because this is advantageous for preservation.  I remember talking to Bart Vetger about code and this open source thing. He was already working in a certain software environment. I remember at some point thinking specifically about what code language I would choose to work with and what would be the best long-term option.

     

    RS: Can you say something about the changing of formats that took place due to the restoration and preservation process of for instance #2, which was originally shot on Super8. Do you regard this as an ethical issue?

    JR: No, not anymore. I have done in the past but, like I said, I’m no longer a film fundamentalist. I remember when it was irresponsible and unethical for a programmer to ask an experimental filmmaker to provide a video version of a film work. That was unthinkable! In the beginning when films were scanned to video the quality was a load of crap! It was terrible! Now with HD screening digital versions are much better. What I have also noticed over time is that 35mm is much more stable than 16mm now. It’s more reliable to screen films on 35mm because 35mm projectionists are all trained and know exactly what they're doing. The 35mm projectors are all standardised and I rarely have trouble with 35mm projections. 16mm it’s a totally different story! It is rarely perfect. The reality now is that 16mm projections are mostly crappy so digital projections are preferable because they are much better quality.  I see that there are still pockets of film fundamentalism that remain but for me, I now see working with film as a passing phase in my career. I do think about how to make work accessible online. I think it would be great to do, and platforms like vimeo are making this easier but still…what is made available online simply is not the film. It’s so far from the visual experience I want people to have.

     

    RS: In your 2010 essay “Conversations with Machines” you talk about expanded cinema as compositions: “Many of the historic expanded cinema projects are compositions for two or more projectors in which the focus is on the compositional opportunities of several film “voices”, analogous to musical voices. These films necessitate a conscious focusing of attention, so that each spectator has his or her own experience.” How do you feel the restoration of #5 and the conversion of the work to a single-channel piece has effected the nature of the work?

    #5 by Joost Rekveld

    JR: The thing is with #5 is that it was originally made to be shown in a gallery space, not in a cinema. What I liked then is that I could sort of reconfigure the work and adapt the screening format to the space. This posed an interesting challenge when the piece started to be integrated into film programmes, either with my other work or other single-channel works. I then found myself needing to present the work in the standardised space of the cinema. After some trials and experimenting I found that this single-channel screening is actually the optimum way to screen the work in the cinema space. I see this preservation as a way of freezing that choice in time in a way. The prints do still exist so it can still be shown in different ways and we also talked about making digital copies of each of the individual “tracks” as it were so there could still be various screening options. In a gallery space for example it still makes most sense for it to be screened as a three-channel work. I like to keep these possibilities open!

     

    RS: Also in relation to #5, you mentioned before that you like the hummmm of the projector. With this in mind how important was it for you to consider the lack of the 16mm projector in the new digital version? 

    JR: For me, presenting #5 was always so exciting! However, it’s an excitement that I know the audience wouldn’t have experienced because for me it was about the anticipation. When I would screen this work using three projectors I would do a test run and figure out delays and syncs. There was always a lot of tension for me then. I would be anxious about if the projectors were running at the same speed. It was exciting in the same way a horse race can be! The projectors are three horses approaching the finish line and will they be in sync?! This moment gave me a sort of nervous excitement! Like I say this is purely personal and the audience don't know about this element or experience that tension. For that reason now when I think about the digital version of the film which is perfectly synced it’s actually just boring! I’m totally aware that there is no change here for the audience…for the audience it’s boring all along!

     

    RS: So the final question is how do you feel these early works - in their restored form - relate to your current work?

    JR: That’s an interesting question. If we go back to the baby metaphor;  the child leaving the house and starting a new life of their own etc but then, at the end of the day, they're still family! That’s how I feel about my films. I can definitely learn a lot from revisiting the films but it’s a new kind of interaction, and of course I still have a strong connection. If I take #2 for example, a film which, until very recently, I hadn't screened for a very long time. Just before we started the preservation process I screened the film in Japan as part of a retrospective type programme and it was the first time i’d seen it again in maybe 15 years. It triggered a lot of thoughts. I was writing a lot of proposals at the time I revisited it and I realised then that this film captures something that I've tried to do in all my films. Something I didn't realise until that moment. I thought in some sense I have always been making the same film, and actually continue to do so! What I mean by this is that I have a fascination with processes where forms emerge and structures come into being. I see that I was doing that in #2 and it’s basically what I'm always doing. I always think my projects are completely different but in fact they're not. In that sense revisiting the films has been very interesting.

     

    RS: Which restoration do you feel happiest with?

    JR: I think I would say #5. Thinking of how Tuesday will go I feel very confident and I feel like it’s going to be really nice and thats not easy to do with 16mm screenings. My films were made at a time when you could just rent film projectors but thats becoming more and more exotic. Preserving films gives them a new life. I’m happy that this preservation process makes my films more accessible. This is so important to me! I want my films to be seen!

    #5 by Joost Rekveld

    Blog post by Simona Monizza, curator Experimental Film EYE & Ruth Sweeney, student intern.

    collection, experimental film, Rekveld, restoration, EYE on Art
  • Kroniek Cinétol: van buurtbioscoop tot internationaal fenomeen

    maandag 9 mei 2016


    Tot 26 mei 2016 is in OBA-locatie Cinétol aan de Tolstraat in de Pijp nog de overzichtstentoonstelling  “Kroniek Cinétol: van theosophische tempel tot bibliotheek: een historisch overzicht” te bezoeken. Het rijksmonument waar nu de openbare bibliotheek gevestigd is, werd gebouwd in 1926 onder de stijl van het Nieuwe Bouwen. Achtereenvolgens diende het gebouw als theosofische tempel, theater, synagoge, bioscoop, moskee en nu al dertig jaar als bibliotheek. Het huisvestte de bioscopen Thalia (1942-1944), Cultura (1946-1954) en Cinétol (vanaf 1954) tot de sluiting in 1979. Onder directeur en programmeur Cor Koppies werd Cinétol een belangrijke bioscoop met premières, klassiekers, festivals en discussies, met gasten als Jan Blokker, François Truffaut en Ingmar Bergman. Films van onder meer Akira Kurosawa, Jean Eustache, Eric Rohmer, Alfred Hitchcock, Charles Chaplin, Louis Malle, Federico Fellini en vele anderen werden vertoond.

          AJR filmposter, EYE Filmgerelateerde collecties, 1957

    Duikend in het archief van EYE zijn er vele publicaties te vinden over Cinétol, haar directeur en programmering. Mooi zijn bijvoorbeeld de posters van de Amsterdamse Jeugdraad, die voorstellingen in Cinétol organiseerde. Sowieso wist veel jeugd Cinétol te vinden, niet alleen de jeugd uit de Pijp. Koppies organiseerde er nachtelijke “teach-ins” die zelfs op landelijk niveau bekendheid verwierven. Zelf was hij op zijn achttiende als leerling-operateur begonnen bij datzelfde Cinétol, dat in de jaren vijftig samen met het Leidsepleintheater en de Uitkijk werd geëxploiteerd. Langs deze theaters wist hij op te klimmen tot chef-operateur en technisch bedrijfsleider. Toen werd besloten dat het noodlijdende Cinétolgebouw moest worden afgestoten, wist Koppies, amper 25 jaar, het zich toe te eigenen. Als directeur én operateur startte hij met een programma over Ingmar Bergman (“Is Ingmar Bergman een charlatan?”). Zo werd al gauw de toon gezet voor een bijzondere bioscoop. Koppies raakte geregeld in de clinch met de Filmkeuring of de Bioscoopbond, door themareeksen te organiseren over de Nouvelle Vague, de Britse Free Cinema en Italiaanse films, omdat de bond vereiste dat films een hele week draaiden.
    Vele regisseursprogramma’s en themareeksen zouden volgen. Ook de nachtvoorstellingen, een unicum in die tijd, waren zeer geliefd. Koppies, die met zijn onafhankelijke bioscoop bekend stond als kleine zelfstandige in het commerciële bioscooplandschap, schroomde niet om tot onconventionele methoden over te gaan om titels te bemachtigen die hij wilde vertonen. Vond hij een film niet of te duur op filmmarkten in Cannes en Parijs, dan benaderde hij de Franse ambassade gewoon zelf voor de import. Hij zocht, zoals hij zelf zei, naar een andere manier van film verkopen. Desondanks was Koppies niet vreemd van een beetje amusement, naast de artistiekere titels. Zo haalde hij King Kong naar zijn Cinétol-theater, een kaskraker. Fantastische film, zo werd opgetekend uit zijn mond. (Artikel “Alles laten zien wat interessant is” in De Tijd/Maasbode, 2-12-1966). In 1979 sloot Cinétol en ging Koppies een nieuw avontuur aan op de Lijnbaansgracht, het welbekende Cinecenter.


      Cinétol-button, EYE Filmgerelateerde collecties, jaar onbekend
     

    Er zijn twee publicaties uitgegeven naar aanleiding van de tentoonstelling, beiden zijn opgenomen in de bibliotheek van EYE. Ook zijn er zoals gezegd veel posters, parafenalia en knipsels te vinden over Cinétol en Cor Koppies, die zeker de moeite zijn om na te slaan in de vernieuwde EYE Study vanaf oktober. Tot die tijd zijn er ook andere online bronnen waarin Cinétol terug te vinden is, zoals het In Memoriam-artikel over Koppies van Hans Beerekamp en de Cinétol-advertenties in de Delpher-krantenbank.





     

    Cinétol, Cor Koppies, collectie, filmgerelateerd, Jan Blokker, François Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman, Amsterdamse Jeugdraad, kroniek
  • Moving to the Collection Centre: the technical move

    dinsdag 26 april 2016

                                                                                                                                          

    It has been well over a month since my first collection blog about the move to the new Collection Centre in Amsterdam Noord. Last week was an important and extensive stage in the moving process, as the technical move was carried out. Amongst the technical devices that needed to be rehoused carefully, were Steenbeck’s flatbeds and the Scanity  filmscanner. These heavy machines  were hoisted out of the Overamstel building by crane.

                          
    As you can see from the pictures, this was a great operation. Luckily, the Steenbeck company was present to prepare the flatbeds/viewing tables for the move. On these tables, varying from rewinding tables to editing tables with two screens and speakers, film and sound can be run individually and matched to synchronize. The originally German-based company was taken over by one of its former Dutch dealers in Venray, in 2003. Besides the maintenance that is involved with the delicate mechanisms of these machines, the company’s focus remains with developing viewing and editing tables as it has been for the last 60 years. (For more information on the history of Steenbeck, see their company's history page).
     

             

                                                                                            

    Film scanning: Scanity's technology

    Scanity is another machine of great importance to the EYE archive and the Film Conservation & Digital Access department. With this, we have the possibility to scan 16mm and 35mm analog film image (and sound) up to a 4K digital format at a high pace. The demand for analog film scanned digitally is high. As digital born films are issued in 4K, the demand on historical film - and its gatekeepers - is changing because of it. The European Broadcasters Union (EBU) has set up guidelines that apply here, as quoted by Giovanna Fossati in her book From Grain to Pixel: The Archival Life of Film in Transition:

    Technology is now available to scan and digitize the full information available in film images. Experience with such equipment shows that a pixel pitch of 6 μm (about 160 pixels per mm) is considered sufficient to reproduce current film stocks. This corresponds to a scan of 4k x 3k (actually 4096 x 3112) over the full aperture on 35 mm film. If film is scanned at lower resolution (corresponding to a larger pixel spacing), less information is captured and more aliasing artefacts are introduced” (EBU 2001 in Fossati, p. 77).

    Besides the advantages of Scanity in high-paced scanning of EYE’s archival films for use within and outside of EYE, it has some other features that are most important for the sort of film the archive holds. Scanning film is often a precarious undertaking because of the state of many archival films. Scanning film is often a precarious undertaking because of the state of many archival film footage. It can suffer from shrinkage, warping, loose splices, rips, mold, etc. The process can be stressing the film and deteriorating the film’s state ever further. If we for example look at the perforations of a certain film copy, they can be torn in many ways, such as on this image (left). The perforations are used for the transport through most projectors, editing tables, and other machines. These systems, as well as many scanning systems, pick up the film by sprockets or pins that go through the perforations. Because of this, the perforations have a tendency to wear easily. Scanity on the other hand, does not use the perforations for transporting the film through the machine for the scanning process.

    (Source: DFT Film)

     The technique Scanity uses instead is based on a capstan and roller gate transport system. This entails that the film is not guided through the machine by fixed guides, but instead goes through the scanning process on a number of rollers.The capstan on the machine makes for a relaxed move of the film through the process. Still, for scanning the film it is essential to identify the film per frame. This because if the perforations are not located, the image stability of the digital scan will not be up to standards. To make this possible, Scanity uses a camera technology dedicated to detect the perforations without having to physically use them. This makes for a steady digital scan in the end. For more information from DFT’s perspective on digitization of analog film and how Scanity works, see DFT's datasheet.

    At this point in time, gathering the EYE collection in this new Collection Centre has proven to be a great success: from February until today, about 85% of the 200.000 cans that needed to be processed and barcoded have found their new place into the shelves. It has been great to find titles that inspire your inner film geek to re-watch, not to mention the beautiful and/or completely ruined film cans. The film in the can below is for example taken out and put into a new can, left from the corroded one on the picture. Under the right circumstances, these cans are archived under the same roof as the Film Conservation & Digital Access department, the EYE Study and other departments that work closely with this collection. To keep updated on the different stages of the move to the Collection Centre, keep an eye (...) on this collection blog!

    archief, archive, digitalisering, digitization, technology, Collection Centre, Steenbeck, Scanity, barcoding project, collectie, collection
  • Theodore van Houten overleden

    maandag 18 april 2016

    Vrij plotseling maar niet geheel onverwacht bereikte ons vorige week het bericht dat Theodore van Houten is overleden. Deze markante persoon had op een aantal manieren een band met EYE. Hij was bekend door zijn voorstellingen voor zwijgende film via zijn stichting Cinema in Concert. Deze voorstellingen werden weliswaar niet bij EYE georganiseerd en waren bedoeld voor muzikale begeleiding met groot orkest, maar uiteraard vormden zij een mooie aanvulling op de voortstellingen die EYE zelf met zwijgende film verzorgt en delen vooral de passie voor deze bijzondere kunstvorm.
    Ondergetekende werkte in 1991 een drietal maanden intensief met Theodore samen aan de ontsluiting van EYE's collectie bladmuziek voor zwijgende film, die toen voornamelijk bestond uit de collectie afkomstig van de Utrechtse concertmeester Ido Eyl. Theodore beschreef de stukken inhoudelijk, waarna ik ze in zuurvrije omslagen verpakte en de data in de database invoerde.

    Ik leerde Theodore in die periode kennen als een zeer eigenzinnige, om niet te zeggen eigenwijze man, die echter tegelijk een bijzonder humorvolle en aangename kamergenoot bleek. Zijn passie voor muziek galmde regelmatig door de ruimte en hij bleek bovendien zeer gedreven en productief.
    Theodore vulde de Eyl-collectie nog aan met honderden stukken uit zijn eigen verzameling. Hij wist te bewerkstelligen dat alle op deze manier gegeneerde data in boekvorm verschenen bij uitgever Frits Knuf: Silent Cinema Music.

    In 1991 vertelde Theodore regelmatig over zijn nog jonge dochters, waaruit tevens een warm vaderhart sprak. Toen kon ik nog niet vermoeden welk een bekendheid Carice en Jelka later zouden krijgen. Zijn trots om de prestaties van zijn dochters bleek in 2011, toen Theodore enkele dozen vol verzamelde publicaties over met name Carice aan EYE aanbood. Hij kon de stroom niet meer bijhouden en droeg de materialen daarom al vast over. In 2014 volgde zijn archief van Cinema in Concert. Alle drie genoemde collecties zijn bij EYE ontsloten en zullen binnenkort raadpleegbaar zijn in het nieuwe Collectiecentrum.

  • Exposing the Film Apparatus

    donderdag 24 maart 2016

    Friday, the 11th of March, the book launch of Exposing the Film Apparatus: The Film Archive as a Research Laboratory took place at EYE. Co-editors Giovanna Fossati (EYE, University of Amsterdam) and Annie van den Oever (University of Groningen), together with the present contributors, proudly presented the new book.

    Exposing the Film Apparatus is a volume which is made possible by a collaboration between EYE and the Film Archive and Research Laboratory of the University of Groningen. The book offers essays on film apparatuses and media technologies by various media scholars and practitioners. It is a rich tribute to the various pioneers and creators of the cinematic medium. Furthermore, the book provides “a wider view encompassing the coming rewards in the context of the treasures left us by past experiences, possessions and insights”.
     


    In Fossati’s introduction speech, she states that one of the main reasons to create the book was the material turn. As a reaction to the digital turn, the material turn spurs a strong longing for the materiality of film and its devices; its apparatuses so to say. By opening up the archival vaults it is possible to seek out for practical and interactive ways of dealing with the apparatus collection. Therefore, the book has an experimental archival approach by addressing the film archive as a research lab, van den Oever argues.

    The afternoon was filled with five chapter presentations by Susan Aasman, Eef Masson, Leenke Ripmeester, Martin Koerber and Jan Holmberg. They provided the audience with inspiring and interactive ways of dealing with the apparatus collection. During Ripmeester’s presentation, the audience even witnessed a 35mm film reel changeover by a projectionist.

    This book is the ultimate materialization of a collaboration between the many scholars who are involved in this project. The gathering ended with all the speakers and writers on stage to receive a great applause by the attendees.

    Exposing the Film Apparatus: The Film Archive as a Research Laboratory
    ISBN 978 90 8964 718 4

    Price: € 39.90

    http://nl.aup.nl/books/9789462983168-exposing-the-film-apparatus.html

     

    By Sam Duijf and Anouk Kraan. Photo's by Tulta Behm

    Filmapparaten, Filmapparatus, apparaten, apparatencollectie
  • Moving to the Collection Centre

    maandag 14 maart 2016

    An interesting time lies ahead of us. Lots has already happened since the move to EYE’s new Collection Centre was announced. The EYE library will be moving too, therefore many considerations have to be made. Especially given that more and more material is requested through the online catalogue instead of being consulted in the library. Needless to say, it is still key to hold on to the great collection of books and magazines. EYE has been focussing on its core task of maintaining the Dutch film heritage more and more. How does this affect what is moved to the Collection Centre and what isn’t?

    Foreign magazine and book duplicates make up a significant part of the library collection. They have for long been stored elsewhere since they are the duplicates of material available. Since the first week of February, all these boxes with magazine duplicates have moved into the Overamstel library.  In teams of two, EYE employees and volunteers have been going through over 90 cardboard boxes with material from all over the globe.  This ranges from numerous Variety issues, to Finnish and Russian magazines, as well as beautifully designed Dutch Kunst en Amusement issues from the 1920s. The latter is of course kept and it will make the move to the new Collection Centre. These magazines are put in new boxes and registered on title. The foreign duplicates are certainly not thrown away, but are given to another film museum.

    Kunst en Amusement (Nr.1, 1923)

    As an intern at EYE, it has been really interesting handling all these beautiful magazines and preparing them for a place in a brand new building. As we are working meticulously over the next couple of months until reopening in October, these gems as well as others, are digitally available in the BIBIS library catalogue. This specific magazine gives a concrete overview of the Dutch commercial cinema circuit throughout the 1920s, and is one of numerous examples in EYE’s collection from throughout the twentieth and twenty-first century. Kunst en Amusement’s primary focus could be described as promoting the cinema circuit and caring for its future, for example by discussing the “Ontwerp Bioskoopwet” as well as dismissing the idea for restricting cinema admission for children. The latter was thought to be unnecessary, since the nationally centralized "filmkeuring” commission kept track of providing cinemas with decent films suitable for all ages. Moreover, the advertisements in the Kunst en amusement magazines offer a glimpse into the countless film businesses that were around in the 1920s.



    From October onwards, it is possible to reserve a spot in the Collection Centre's EYE Study, where magazines such as this one can be consulted close to the main EYE Museum building. It will be more condensed and complete than ever: both the film collection and film-related collections under one roof. Sorting out these duplicates to make use of the new Collection Centre as efficiently as possible is only one of many tasks needed to prepare for the move. During the move, I will occasionally update this blog with interesting moments in the process. 

    collectie, collection, Collection Centre, EYE Study, collectie-informatie, filmkeuring, Nederlandse film, Kunst en amusement, digitalisering, digitized

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