Film archives showcase their collections: The European Film Gateway is online

In her report on the 24th International conference on History and Media in Copenhagen, Sian Barber mentioned the European Film Gateway which, in the meantime, has gone live and is now accessible at:

– Press release –

After nearly three years of preparation and development, the European Film Gateway – EFG –  is now online. The Internet portal to the digital collections of European film archives and cinémathèques offers free access to currently about 400,000 digital videos, photos, film posters and text materials. By September, the number of digital items will increase to 600,000 from 16 film archives.

“The European Film Gateway creates a central online access to Europe’s film heritage for the first time. Previously, this remarkable record of 20th century European cinema had been dispersed on different national platforms,” says Claudia Dillmann, director of the Deutsches Filminstitut, which co-ordinates the project. “Now the films and information about them are more accessible, not only to scholars, journalists and creatives, but also by a broader audience interested in film.”

“EFG also provides access to material in film archives that was hitherto hardly known, and some is now online for the first time,” says project manager Georg Eckes. These include unique magic lantern slide collections from France, erotic films made in Austria in the early 20th century, advertising films from Norway, newsreels from Lithuania and a comprehensive film poster collection from Denmark. Hidden treasures can be discovered from 15 European countries. Cinecittá Luce from Rome, for example, contributes not only a famous Italian newsreel collection reporting on important film-related events and persons, but also a fine collection of early films by great masters like Rossellini, Antonioni, Comencini, and other famous names of Italian filmmaking. An extensive collection of set photos to films of Rainer Werner Fassbinder contributed by the Deutsches Filminstitut will be available for the first time online from August on.

Users of the portal can search for people, for example Marlene Dietrich, but also by film title or keywords. They get an overview of related digital objects from the film archives which can be viewed directly in the portal. The portal always links back to the website of the relevant archives, and therefore also works as a search engine for selected digital holdings of European film archives.

IAMHIST 2011 Conference Report

The 24th International conference on History and Media took place this year in Copenhagen on 6th-9th July. EUscreen was represented by Dr. Sian Barber from Royal Holloway and Berber Hagedoorn from Utrecht University, both of whom delivered papers in the same panel at the conference. The theme of the conference was Media History and Cultural Memory and some of the papers given over the course of this four day event were particularly relevant to EUscreen.

IAMHIST report by Dr. Sian Barber & Berber Hagedoorn, MA.

The roundtable discussion which began the conference included representatives from the Imperial War Museum in London, the Holocaust Museum in Washington and the Danish Film Institute. Thomas Christensen from the Danish Film Institute discussed their current programme of digitisation and how their data is to be aggregated with Europeana. He highlighted the challenges of digitisation and the impact such processes have upon the original collections, for example the tensions between the contextualisation of content and the need for preservation. He also referred in passing to projects including EUscreen and the European Film Gateway as conducting similar kind of work.

Raye Farr from theHolocaust museum in Washington spoke about the way in which visitors engage with the museum collections and suggested the complexities for both live museums and online museum environments in meeting visitor and user needs. This is particularly relevant to the development of the Comparative Virtual Exhibitions within EUscreen, which will offer a unique user experience but will need to offer a coherent and simple narrative while at the same time addressing the diversity of material involved. She suggested that the role of museums is to preserve memory but wondered to what extent that could happen online and how the contested issues and boundaries of memory could be adequately addressed.

One of the most interesting papers was the presentation given about the Danish LARM Audio Research Archive. Bente Larsen from the University of Copenhagen is the project manger for this ambitious project which aims to place 1 million hours of Danish radio material online, covering 114 years of audio recording. This newly created digital archive faces many of the same issues as EUscreen – including issues of copyright, streaming and of providing access to cultural heritage. LARM aims to create a user-focused infrastructure which will benefit students and researchers and provide access to this material, but as yet it can only be accessed by users from within Denmark.

In the same panel, Heidi Svømmekjær (Roskilde University) was also discussing radio and in particular the problems and possibilities for re-entering the absent ‘object’ in the (digital) archive. Her case study was The Hansen Family, a programme that was broadcast from 1929 to 1949, of which 2-3 episodes out of 900 episodes remain. Svømmekjær notably drew upon the work of Antoinette M. Burton, Archive stories: facts, fictions, and the writing of history to address the methodological challenges of dealing with missing radio recordings and how the missing object could be reinstalled within the archive when only the basic metadata remains.

The history project based on the British broadcasting trade union BECTU was the focus of the paper given by Andrew Dawson (University of Greenwich). This paper focused on some important questions about conducting historical projects and the importance of oral history. Dawson highlighted the importance of drawing on a range of material to explore the work of the film industry, rather than simply focusing on the recollections of a number of important individuals. He suggested that listening to authoritative and dominant voices can obscure the more detailed history which can emerge from a wider sample. Dawson also wondered about European broadcasters and if different organisations were conducting similar projects about their own film and television industries which draw on oral history.

From EUscreen partner Utrecht University, Berber Hagedoorn presented on Dutch Multi-Platform Television as a Practice of History and Memory. By means of a case analysis of two Dutch cross-media projects, the documentary series In Europa (In Europe) and the youth documentary series 13 in de Oorlog (13 in the War), Hagedoorn discussed the integration and adaptation of television’s past and audiovisual archive materials in a new context of television itself. This challenges the dominant conception that television is a disposable practice incapable of memory. Hagedoorn’s research deals with archival materials from the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision.

Sian Barber, (Royal Holloway, University of London) presented on the methodological challenges posed by the EUscreen project. In a paper entitled Whose Archive, Whose History? Barber suggested that any online visual material needs to be adequately contextualized in order to give the most detailed understanding possible to end users. Barber emphasized the need for a ‘digital historiography’ to help users, in particular students, develop skills in ‘reading’ online material as historical sources. Portals such as EUscreen offer a great deal of material to the users but unless they interrogate the material carefully and fully understand what kind of material it is, then it will be of limited use to them. Barber outlined what the EUscreen project was doing to contextualise material on the portal and how this was achieved through the content selection strategy, virtual exhibitions and detailed metadata.

This four day event was a great opportunity to disseminate information about the EUscreen project and to hear about other projects which have interesting convergences with our own work.

Conference update: Two more speakers confirmed

For the Second EUscreen International Conference on Use and Creativity, two more names were confirmed for our speakers list. We’re happy to announce to you that Paul Ashton of the Times Educational Supplement and Catherine Grout from JISC confirmed their participation in the conference.

Paul Ashton has been working at the Times Educational Supplement. He worked as an education officer at the BBC, after which he became the commissioning editor for Teachers TV, a government funded TV and online video service that operated until April 2011. After its closure, the Department of Education signed multiple non-exclusive distribution agreements to ensure that the 3,500 programmes in the archive would still be available to watch on-line. The service enabled teachers to widen their skills, develop their practice, and connect with others in the field by supplying professional development videos and resources. All 15-minute programmes are now freely available at the Times Educational Supplement website.

Catherine Grout works as Programme Director at JISC, where she is responsible for directing programmes and projects in the e-content area, where her activities are to stimulate communication and activity with commercial publishers and e-content providers. She manages the work of the JISC e-content team who work to deliver an e-content strategy for the JISC Community, which includes working closely with JISC Collections and other JISC Services and partners both within and outside the UK.

We’re proud of their recent confirmation to speak at the conference.
Make sure you don’t miss out on their presentations by registering at:

The updated speakers list is now:

First names confirmed for the Second EUscreen International Conference on Use and Creativity

EUscreen will be holding its Second International Conference on Use and Creativity from 15-16 September 2011. Host of the conference will be the National Library of Sweden, which is located in the Humlegården park in Stockholm.

Attendance is free but on-line registration is required at the following address:

Conference programme:

At the international conference, EUscreen will discuss the online potential of European television heritage. The conference will explore creative approaches to enhance online accessibility of European television heritage. The goal is to expand methods to reach a wide range of users and to increase their engagement with online heritage materials. The conference programme consists of a plenary session with keynotes and case studies by renowned experts in the field.

On the second day of the programme, attendees will take part in two workshops. The first workshop is about EUscreen’s user community and how EUscreen services can be exploited with the objectives of learning, research, leisure/cultural heritage and creative reuse in mind. The second workshop will be on exploring funding opportunities and devising sustainable business models for the digitisation of audio-visual material.

Confirmed speakers:

Please go to for programme updates and make sure to register in time for this event!

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