Frequently Asked Questions
What is an
An Audio-Visual (AV) archive is a
repository of audiovisual materials, i.e., film and video. A fully
functional AV archive is engaged in acquiring and retrieving films from
various sources to form the collection; preserving, and restoring, if
necessary, the AV materials; making an inventory and catalogue of the
collection; and providing access to it. The objective of an AV archive is to
provide the means to enable a film to survive for the present and future
generation to enjoy and study as a tangible record of the past and as an
important part of the cultural heritage.
Why do we
have to preserve film?
As an audio-visual medium, film gives us the most effective record of the
past, of the culture, the people's values, attitudes, mores and way of life.
For film students and practitioners, exposure to Filipino film classics can
give a sense of history and perspective. For film educators, alternative to
Western models are provided. And for the general public, they will be given
the chance to enjoy (again) the films which shaped their (or their parents')
What is the
biggest obstacle to preserving films and other AV materials?
The fact that ours is a tropical
country and tropical climates have a devastating effect in film and tape
materials, encouraging rapid degradation through mould, vinegar syndrome,
and other effects. As a result, much of the AV heritage has already been
lost and a significant number of surviving collections are in a dangerous
Audio-Visual archive different from a film archive?
Not really. It used to be that film
(photo-sensitive materials on celluloid base) was the only medium able to
record both aurally and visually, hence, the term film archive. But with the
advent of video and other materials, like discs, which are also able to
record audio-visually, it is deemed best to expand the concern of the
archives to accommodate developments in technology and include the new media
which will be created thereon.
Why is it
important for country to have an AV archive?
The significance of a national AV
archive may be compared to that of the national library (in terms of printed
materials) or the national museum (in terms of artifacts). Considering that
in the Philippines film and related media have the broadest mass base,
undoubtedly the biggest influence on the popular culture, the significance
of an AV archive also takes on a sociological and anthropological level.
Do we have a
national AV archive in the Philippines?
For a country with a long and glorious
film history, it is ironic that presently the Philippines has no national or
central repository of films and other AV materials. In 1982, the Film
Archives of the Philippines, a national film archive, was established under
the Experimental Cinema of the Philippines (ECP), Unfortunately, it belonged
to an agency which was a high profile project of a then becoming unpopular
political regime. With the imminent fall of the Marcos administration, the
three-year-old archive was placed under the then Board of Review for Motion
Picture and Television (BRMPT, which is now the MTRCB or the Movie and
Television Review and Classification Board) by an executive order. Since
archiving is not really a function of the censor's office, the archive under
the BRMPT (and later MTRCB) was not a fully functional national film
archive. In fact, the present MTRCB under Ms. Armida Siguion-Reyna has
announced that they are now returning the films in their collection to their
rightful owners and the unclaimed films will be turned over to other
archives who may be able to give better care and attention to the films.
Why does it
seem so difficult to put up a national AV archive?
The important requisites in the
creation of a national AV archive include the installation and maintenance
of expensive facilities, technical expertise, and a deep sense of history
and love for films. But more important is the will to set up a film archive
with the knowledge that a film archive is an expensive organization.
undertakes the responsibility of preserving our national film heritage?
Much of the film archiving activities in the country are presently
undertaken by the Society of Film Archivists or SOFIA, an organization of
individuals/professionals, who may or may not be affiliated with an
institution which has an archiving concern, but are personally engaged in
some form of AV archiving activity. Founded in 1993 and with a 50 plus
membership, from an original eight, SOFIA is in the forefront of such
archiving activities as training (on archive management, preservation /film
handling, cataloguing, etc.)., promotion and restoration of classics, with
financial assistance coming mostly from the National Commission for Culture
and the Arts (NCCA).
Most of SOFIA's members come from
government and private institutions with some archiving concerns, e.g. the
Cultural Center of the Philippines and the U.P. Film Center, which are both
active in retrieving important films and making them accessible by providing
venue or through outreach programs; the Philippine Information Agency, which
coordinates ASEAN regional activities and operates a major film laboratory
where almost all of the film restoration works are done; NGO such as
Mowelfund, which gives special attention to independent short films; and
private/industry based archives like those of Sampaguita, LVN, Viva, and
ABS-CBN, which will soon come up with a state-of-the-art film storage and
preservation facilities and which now has the biggest feature film
collection in the country.
What are the
qualifications of an AV archivist?
There is no college degree on AV
archiving. Most of the AV archivists have degree or background as varied as
mass communication, film & TV production, library science, public
administration, chemistry, literature, humanities, history, so on and so
forth. But whatever his background may be, an AV archivists should be
motivated by his great love and devotion to the medium, which enables him to
know its history, artistic and documentary feasibilities, its creators and
interpreters, and the technical aspect of the medium.
Are the AV
archives also concerned with other film-related materials?
A fully functional AV archive should
also be concerned with other film-related materials which are called
documentation materials. These include scripts, still photos, posters,
ad-layouts, newspaper clippings, etc.
classics have been "saved from extinction" due to restoration efforts?
The 1939 Octavio Silos' classic
Tunay na Ina, starring Rosario Moreno,
Rudy Concepcion and a 9-year-old Tita Duran is restored through the efforts
of SOFIA and the NCCA. Ditto with Gerardo de Leon's
Sanda Wong, where a lone existing print
in Cantonese had been restored, duplicated and subtitled. Ongoing
NCCA-assisted restoration projects include Eddie Romero's
Banta ng Kahapon, Lino Brocka's
White Slavery, and Gerry de Leon's
Moises Padilla Story. Awaiting
greenlight are Sampaguita Pictures' Maalaala
Mo Kaya (1954), Jack and Jill, MN,
and Dalagang Ilokana; LVN's
Kundiman ng Lahi (both by Lamberto
Avellana); and the Cebuano award-winning film
Badlis sa Kinabuhi. The last six titles are to be funded under the
Cinema Program for Values Formation. SOFIA is also working with the National
Film and Sound Archive of Australia to restore LVN's first film,
Giliw Ko, directed by Carlos Vander
Tolosa in 1939 and stars Fernando Poe, Sr., Mila del Sol, Ely Ramos and
Fleurdelis (Mona Lisa). But even before SOFIA was founded, Gerry de Leon 's
Noli Me Tangere was restored and
reproduced through the efforts of the private and government sectors with
the help of German Technology.
preservation tips could you give to a film collector or producer with a
small film collection?
Before storage, inspect the film for
tears and bad splices, and, if possible, make the necessary repairs. This
means investing on a simple rewinding table and splices. Do not touch the
film emulsion with your bare hands. Oil from your hand may get into the film
and cause deterioration later on. If the film material is dirty or greasy,
do a manual cleaning by slowly running the film strip sandwiched in a
lint-free cloth (chamois or black velvet) with cleaning solution (preferably
methanol). If cleaning surface dirt from a negative, run the film through
particle transfer rollers (PTR) to avoid abrasions and scratches. Use
splicing tape and not scotch tape when splicing. The latter's adhesive may
cause damage to the film. Do not store the film in rusted cans. Do not put
anything else other than the film and its core inside the can, especially
paper materials may contain acid. Wind the film loosely before putting in
the can. This is to avoid blocking and ferrotyping. Stack the films
horizontally, not vertically, for long term storage. The film should then be
kept in a room with constant low temperature and relative humidity. Avoid
having people going in and out of the room. This may cause fluctuation in
temperature which may result in condensation. The resulting moisture may
cause irreparable damage to the film. But the most practical suggestion will
be to scout around for the best AV archive to take care of your collection.
preserve in video which is cheaper and does not occupy too much space?
Since video is a relatively newer
medium, its lifespan is known to be much shorter compared to film. Although
its duplication is an easier and less expensive process, there is a
considerable loss of quality (generation loss) in every duplication. But the
biggest drawback of video, or any of the new media for that matter, is the
very fast-changing technology that created it, which renders the format and
the equipment to run it obsolete in just a short period of time. On the
other hand, a well preserved film material from the 1930's will still run in
the most modern film projectors today. But video serves an important purpose
in providing a very convenient format for access.