Meet the Archive

Just how big and diverse the Eye collection is, becomes very clear every year when the collection specialists step into the spotlight during Meet the Archive.

Still from Les Parisiennes (1897, director unknown).

Meet the Archive presents exceptional stories about (early) film history, highlights forgotten filmmakers, reports on new cooperations and shows what often remains hidden: the hive of activity buzzing away behind the scenes of the day-to-day programming.

Owing to the coronavirus measures, this year Meet the Archive will not take place in Eye Filmmuseum itself. And this in the year in which Eye celebrates its 75th anniversary. To mark these 75 years of history, the Eye collection specialists have therefore instead made eight online instalments of Meet the Archive on 75 years of the film archives. The collection specialists will discuss the history of the collection, major conservation projects, and innovations in the area of restoration and screening practice.

#1: 75 Years of Innovation in Film Archiving: From Collecting to Restoring and Presenting — The First 50 Years

As part of the 75th anniversary of Eye Filmmuseum, this instalment deals with the history of what used to be the Nederlands Filmmuseum – now Eye Filmmuseum.

Drawing on three key Eye collections – the Uitkijk Archive, the Desmet Collection, and the films from the Biograph & Mutoscope Company – an overview will be presented of the development of Eye Filmmuseum in short characterisations: the international breadth of the collection, research, and conservation practice and changes in terms of presentation.

We will then take a whistle-stop tour of the ‘milestones’ in restoration and digitalisation since the late 1980s: the first analogue colour conservation projects, the international workshops, and Bits and Pieces.

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#2: 75 Years of Innovation in Film Archiving: Restoration, Digitization, Research and Access

This instalment illustrates some of Eye’s milestones in film restoration and digitization, and discusses Eye’s role in promoting research and innovative ways to engage with and access film collections.

In particular, we explore Eye’s work in the field of colour restoration from the late 1980s on; its first steps in digital restoration in the late 1990s; its pioneering role in large-scale digitization and access in the 2010s; and some of its innovative work in digital presentation (online and on-site).

The instalment ends with testimonies by five international colleagues who have worked closely with the museum throughout the years, inspired by Eye’s collection and activities: Joshua Yumibe (Michigan State University), Grazie Ingravalle (Brunel University London), Ulrich Ruedel (University of Applied Sciences, Berlin), Aki Kung and Gladys Lau (Reel to Reel Institute, Hong Kong).

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#3: Reuse of Archival Films: New Contexts, New Meanings

This instalment contains various examples of the last two decades of how archival footage has been used by filmmakers and artists. They demonstrate how the reuse of archival footage opens up unexpected encounters between past and present.

Eye Filmmuseum always welcomes the use of its film collection by others. Eye invited 3 experts on this topic. Ronny Temme who used to be the sales manager of Eye’s film collection. Gerda Jansen Hendriks, historian and director at the NTR of the well-known Dutch TV program Andere Tijden. Sandra Beerends, director of the prize-winning documentary They Call Me Babu. Together with curator Dorette Schootemeijer they discuss various issues regarding the use of archival footage.

With special thanks to: Sandra Beerens, Gerda Jansen Hendriks, Ronny Temme. The footage contained in this video was kindly provided by all makers. Excerpt from They Call Me Babu, by Pieter van Huystee Film & TV, directed by Sandra Beerends. “Hotel Lux” episode of the TV series Andere Tijden by VPRO and NTR, directed by Gerda Jansen Hendriks.

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#3: Reuse of Archival Films: New Contexts, New Meanings — some examples

This instalment contains various examples of the last two decades of how archival footage has been used by filmmakers and artist. They demonstrate how the reuse of archival footage opens up unexpected encounters between past and present.

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#4: Reuse of Archival Films: The Materiality of Film & Film and Other Media

Eye Filmmuseum always welcomes collaborations with artists that either explore the materiality of celluloid itself or expand the boundaries of cinema. Eye invited two experts on this topic representing two different generations: Peter Delpeut, who is a filmmaker famous for found footage films such as Lyrical Nitrate, Diva Dolorosa and The Forbidden Quest, and Niels Gerson Lohman, who is creative director producing promotional campaigns for cultural institutions such as the van Gogh museum. Together with curator Leenke Ripmeester, they discuss various issues such as the fascination for the decaying image of nitrate film and the intersection between cinema and other art forms.

“Reuse of archival films: the materiality of film & film and other media – some examples” contains various examples of the last decades of how filmmakers were fascinated with the materiality of film of how they aimed at intersecting films with other forms of media. By inviting these types of reuse, Eye continuously investigates the meaning of cinema.

The film Liquidator is an artistic examination of the decay of nitrate. The film will be preceded by an introduction of its director Karel Doing.

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#4: Reuse of Archival Films: The Materiality of Film & Film and Other Media — some examples

This instalment contains various examples of the last decades of how filmmakers were fascinated with the materiality of film of how they aimed at intersecting films with other forms of media. By inviting these types of reuse, Eye continuously investigates the meaning of cinema.

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#4: "Liquidator" (2010) with an introduction by Karel Doing

The film Liquidator is an artistic examination of the decay of nitrate. The film will be preceded by an introduction of its director Karel Doing.

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#5: From Scopitone to 3D; apparatus collection, stereo-photograph and 8mm film on 3D

In Episode 5 of this series, we dive into a number of exceptional elements of the Eye collection: stereoscopic equipment and stereo photos from the film-related collections. Put on your 3D glasses (those ones with the red and blue or green lenses) and see early 3D images with your own eyes, even on a computer screen.

We will also be showing private experiments in the making and screening of 3D film, and revealing how these work. Films in 8mm and 16mm formats have been digitalised especially for the occasion and made suitable for online screening.

One of the pièces de resistance is the exceptional Scopitone – a film jukebox acquired by Eye in 2019. A short documentary shows how this device works, as well as the enthusiastic responses of Eye staff to the first show.

This video includes sections that are best viewed with anaglyph/3D glasses.

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#6: The Filmliga and the Origins of the Eye Collection

Celebrating the 75th anniversary of Eye Filmmuseum is a good reason to reflect on a collection that formed the basis of the Filmmuseum, namely the collection of the Filmliga. The Filmliga was an organization that was founded in 1927 to show films from the international avant-garde to a Dutch audience. Films by Walter Ruttmann, Oskar Fischinger, René Clair, Luis Buñuel and many others were screened throughout the Netherlands. The aim was to raise awareness of the artistic qualities of the film.

Because the Filmliga collection was one of the 'founding collections' of the Filmmuseum after the war, many original, often unique, copies have been preserved in Eye's collection. One of the gems in this collection is The Man with the Camera (Soviet Union, 1929) by Dziga Vertov, which has been preserved and restored by Eye. This episode of Meet the Archive focuses on the collection of the Filmliga, and in particular The Man with the Camera, which will be available in full on the Eye Film Player later this year.

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#7: Archiving the Legacy of Women in Film: Preserving and Sharing

In recent years discussions about the visibility of women within the cinema industry and film history gained traction. Eye Filmmuseum has been committed for decades to concentrating on the role of women in cinema and to retrieve and highlight their input. Women’s oeuvres seem to have been obscured by a number of factors, ranging from the fragility and obsoleteness of the material to biased narratives framing women as “somebody’s wife”.

In this episode, Eye’s curator of experimental film Simona Monizza and curator of silent cinema Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi jointly present a short historical overview of the results of this approach, illustrated by a number of recent discoveries, and distribution and research activities.

Thumbnail image: Die schwarze Kugel oder die geheimnisvollen Schwestern (Franz Hofer, DE 1913)

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#8: Archiving the Legacy of Women in Film: Collaborations and Networks

Eye Filmmuseum has been committed for decades to concentrating on the role of women in cinema. Women’s oeuvres seem to have been obscured by lack of research and resources, combined with misconceptions. Carefully weeding through cliches and by rediscovering and studying the films in their own right and within their broader context, we see new narratives and networks emerging. Joining forces with others who also share our goals, we believe we can uncover and present women’s work in cinema in a new, more significant light, respecting its continuity across genres, periods, and generations.

In this episode, Eye’s curator of experimental film Simona Monizza and curator of silent cinema Elif Rongen-Kaynakçi showcase some of the recent results of this approach; with shout-outs to the “Ellen Richter Retrospective”, “Cinema’s Earliest Nasty Women Project”, the efforts to restore and to reintroduce Vrouwen van Suriname, and Babeth van Loo’s tribute to Moniek Toebosch and others.

Thumbnail image: Solokonsert voor recensent en fotograaf (Moniek Toebosch & Ike Bartels, NL 1977)

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#8: Simona Monizza in Conversation with Babeth VanLoo

This instalment of Meet the Archive contains the full interview of Babeth Mondini-VanLoo conducted by Simona Monizza. Babeth is a media artist with an impressive career spanning several decades, during which she took on the roles of filmmaker, teacher, curator, programmer, producer, and much more.

Eye Filmmuseum is collaborating with Babeth Mondini-VanLoo on the preservation of some of her films.

Centred on the main topic of the visibility of women in film, this conversation covers several collateral topics, such as the role of collaborations, (female) identities, the issue of ageing, as well as the importance of saving in Babeth’s words ‘women's energy that went into making art’.

The book Art=Life=Art Babeth Mondini-VanLoo: From Beuys to Buddhism testifies to Babeth’s multidisciplinary approach to creativity and to her powerful energy, and is a great read for anyone interested in art, outside of the commercial realm.

We would like to acknowledge the following artists mentioned in this interview: Joseph Beuys, Maya Deren, Ulrike Ottinger, Meredith Monk, Joan Jonas, Moniek Toebosch, Ida Lohman, Janica Draisma, Frans Zwartjes & Trix Zwartjes, and Yoko Ono.

The films made by Babeth Mondini-VanLoo mentioned in the interview are:
Meredith Monk: Inner Voice
(NL 2009)
Moniek Toebosch: Wie ik was voordat ik was (Who I Was Before I Was) (NL 2011)

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