Sunday, February 17, 2008

BPN 1011 European archived movies site to launch in April

A Europe-wide video-on-demand platform bringing together content from 37 film archives across the continent is to be launched in April. The free site will be known as European Film Treasures and initially offer about 100 titles but eventually expand to as many as 500 from over 80 years of European movie history. The site is partly being funded for 500.000 euro ($725,000) by the European Union's MEDIA Program, and is headed by Serge Bromberg, founder of Paris-based film restoration firm Lobster Films. A jury will decide on which films from various European countries' archives to include on the site, which will Footage will be accessible for streaming only, not download, but the site may in the future extend to associated DVD sales. Films will be available in their original language with translation where needed into English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. Lobster is coming up with original music to accompany silent films.

It has taken Serge Bromberg at least ten years to get the idea across to archives and potential sponsors. The last two years he spent convincing all the archives to come on board. So far the only major national archive not represented is Belgium.

The video-on-demand hype has helped Serge Bromberg a lot in the last two years. People working in the archive saw the European Film Treasures platform as an opportunity to attract viewers worldwide. Besides many of the early movies are short movies. Programming movies on internet is more grateful for the curators than recovering and restoring at cost for just a small local audience. Now the archives do not have to put money in making the movies available. The business model can be based on the long tail.

The curators are excited about the opportunity and the forthcoming publicity for their archive. Yet they are shielding themselves against too great expectations. So far people have not pushed their archives to open up. But now the historic movies will be made available online for streaming, not for copying, 24/7. And it will not be the movies only, but all the documentation that will go with the movie.

At last digital heritage is coming out of the dusty archives to be digitalised, documented, promoted and available on demand. Europeana will have this mission as well as European Film Treasures.

Blog Posting Number: 1011

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