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Mathieu Gallet: Conservation of audiovisual heritage is today more important than ever

The Balkans’ Memory project opening conference took place on 1 June in Zagreb. The project is dedicated to digitization of audiovisual archives in the region and in the following three years it will continue through a series of seminars and workshops.

Balkans’ Memory is a three-year project managed by Ina (French National Audiovisual Institute / Institut national de l’audiovisuel), in association with the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, Albanian National Film Archive and COPEAM (Conférence permanente de l’audiovisuel méditerranéen), and co-funded by the European Commission.

The goal of the project is to implement the first stage of the ambitious policy of conservation, digitization and evaluation of audiovisual and cinematic heritage in the region through promotion of the exchange of knowledge and development of professional skills of archive and TV employees. Today's conference is the occasion to raise awareness among the decision makers and governments on the memory issue, because TV and cinema are part of our heritage and of our national memory. In France Ina is the only public company in charge of these archives, so we are conscious of the role of TV and radio in our nation's memory. Today we are here also for sharing this point of view with all the countries that are taking part in our conference. And I think that in this region the question of preserving AV memory is even more important considering the recent history of the Balkans, said Mathieu Gallet, Head of Ina.

Under Gallet’s leadership, Ina has in the last two years garnered success in the business field, too. One part of our missions is of general interest, and that is preservation and conservation of the AV heritage, explained Gallet. But in the meantime we also have commercial missions, and one of them is to publish DVDs and Internet websites. For instance, we have created an Internet website during the French presidential elections on which you could see all the cult phrases of the politicians which could be used or re-used on your Facebook and Twitter profiles for expressing your feelings of the day. For example, if somebody wants to express his/hers dissatisfaction, they could use the famous sentence of the former French prime minister. This makes these images more accessible to general public even in the terms of amusement, leisure or entertainment.

INA was in charge for all the TV and radio archives in France; at first our customers were big TV channels and producers, but after we started the digitization of the archives more than 10 years ago we are able to share these images directly with general public on our website and all other platforms. The old archives were like a big safe, closed to the public, while the digitization offers an opportunity to reuse and share these images with general public, said Gallet about the difference between classical archiving and possibilities offered by new media.

The opening conference of Balkans’ Memory project lasted for one day and adressed a series of burning issues, like strategies archive managers should adopt to highlight their economic, cultural, educational and historic value, policies to implement for their conservation and digitization, and stakeholders to be included in the process of ensuring efficient exchange of information and knowledge.

The conference gathered experts from the field of preservation of audiovisual and cinematographic heritage from the region, who held a series of presentations and roundtables. The aim of the opening conference was to raise awareness among the opinion makers and representatives of funds, in the presence of archive managers and professionals from the region and European Union, about the importance of accurate and timely archive digitization.

We strongly believe that this conference is only the beginning of a long-term and fruitful co-operation in between the professionals and institutions in the region and beyond and that it will only go from strength to strength in the years to come, said Sanja Ravlić, Head of Development of HAVC.

Balkans’ Memory project will take three years (2012-2014) and will comprise of a series of workshops, seminars and theoretic sessions setting the grounds for stage one of audiovisual archive digitization. The project will continue in the Fall in Tirana with a more detailed seminar on the conservation and restoration of film and audiovisual heritage.

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