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December 22, 2014, 07:55:23 PM
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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Other Topics  |  Off Topic Discussion  |  Speech, speech « previous next »
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Trevor
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« on: November 21, 2014, 02:34:01 AM »

The National Film Archives just turned 50: I thought you guys would like to see the speech I wrote for our deputy minister to read. Not bad at all.

Quote
THE “UNRULY CHILD” HAS MATURED: THE NATIONAL FILM, VIDEO AND SOUND ARCHIVES AT FIFTY

It is an uncommon occurrence that an organization set up by the South African National Party in 1964 will make a lasting contribution not only to that political dispensation but also to a democratically elected government thirty years later by its’ tireless preservation of iconic historic images. It is also odd to note that the birth of such an organization and the birth of a democratic South Africa should both be in April, only thirty years apart.

This occurrence is however completely true of the South African National Film, Video And Sound Archives – formerly known as the National Film Board - an organization established on the strength of the findings of a report submitted to the National Party government in 1954 by John Grierson, the Scottish pioneering documentary filmmaker and, along with the Oscar winning filmmaker Norman McLaren, the founder of the Canadian National Film Board.

The South African National Film Board was established in 1964 with the aim to collect, access, preserve and make available films and all relevant materials made in or about this country, with the NFB’s sub-department known as the SA Film Institute leading the way in the preservation of the product of Africa’s oldest film industry which had its’ low-key beginnings in film screenings held in Johannesburg’s Empire Palace of Varieties in 1895.

It should be noted that Johannesburg is the birthplace of African cinema as a whole, due to Isidore W. Schlesinger’s establishment of the African Film Productions studio in Killarney in 1916: both the National Film Board and the SANFVSA have preserved many of the feature films, documentaries and newsreels produced by that company from 1916 to its’ disbanding in 1972.

In addition to its’ film preservation brief, the National Film Board also produced documentary films for the South African government: this was an assignment which did not find much favour with local filmmakers who accused the NFB of having a monopoly on documentary film production and most of these film producers refused NFB awards made to film productions such as Jans Rautenbach’s controversial 1968 political thriller Die Kandidaat [The Candidate].

Many films lodged with the National Film Board by the then government were productions that were critical of the government who ordered colleagues at the NFB to destroy them. Some of these were covertly filmed documentaries such as The Heart of Apartheid, White Africa, The Dumping Grounds, Discarded People, Sabotage In South Africa and the charmingly titled South Africa Loves Jesus among others.

By the middle of the 1970s, cracks were beginning to show in the NFB’s make-up and despite having state of the art film production facilities – in the building now home to the National Prosecuting Authority in Silverton, Pretoria – it was closed down by an order of Parliament in 1979.

The SA Film Institute division was however permitted to continue with its’ activities of film preservation: which by this time included a huge catalogue of South African films which dated back to a few minutes of film shot in Cape Town in 1898 and actual Anglo-Boer / South African War footage as well as posters, photographs, scripts and other so-called ‘non film’ material – it had also since moved to its’ present home, the 122 year old Craigielea Building – older than the Union Buildings - which is very pleasant by day and rather spooky late at night. Or so the colleagues here have informed me.

Now renamed the National Film Archives, the organization continued adding to its’ holdings which by the middle of the 1980s was expanded to include video and sound, leading to the organization being re-branded as the National Film, Video and Sound Archives.

Many film production companies and cinema organizations such as Ster-Kinekor and NuMetro donated film masters and film prints on various gauges to the institution and these donations – not governed by any legal deposit legislation – enabled the greater majority of South African film to be preserved indefinitely.

Sound recordings dating back to the earliest part of the twentieth century are also preserved here, making the SANFVSA one of the few archives in the world which preserves everything and does not specialize in just one or two preservation activities.

During the 1980s and early 1990s, the South African film industry went through a major boom period with many feature films being made yearly but also with some unscrupulous filmmakers exploiting not only local actors and crews but also loopholes in the then tax and film subsidy laws, with the prime culprit being the now defunct film company Cannon Pictures and their successors Nu World Services, although the latter film company’s parent company bought out the Metro Cinema chain in South Africa, renaming it NuMetro.

With the arrival of the 1990s, many of these film companies were closed due to film subsidy fraud and many of their productions were handed to the NFVSA for preservation, even though their quality was sometimes questionable as can be seen in films like the South African version of the 1984 film The Karate Kid – Umfana We Karate. Thanks to the film preservation efforts of the SANFVSA, many of these feature films are now undergoing film to digital tape transfers.

It should be noted that the SANFVSA does not regulate which South African productions can be or should be curated by it: it preserves everything made by the industry which is donated to it.

South Africa has had a long and sometimes both convoluted and controversial film production history with the first feature film made in Africa – The Great Kimberley Diamond Robbery – which was released in 1910 and the oldest surviving feature film made in Africa, Harold Shaw’s De Voortrekkers / The Pathfinders which was released in 1916.

Due to the preservation efforts of colleagues at the NFB and currently the SANFVSA, many of these full length feature films - which include classic South African productions such as Katrina, Shangani Patrol, Wild Season, The Hellions, The Winners and Dingaka - have been kept and due to a massive film to digital tape drive in conjunction with MNet which commenced in 1998, many of these productions have been released on DVD.

In the apartheid years prior to 1975, television was frowned upon – referred to as the ‘devil’s box’ by the then Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Mr Albert Hertzog and essentially banned – and South Africans had to go to the cinema to obtain their news via the African Mirror, SA Mirror, SA Camera, Ons Nuus [Our News] and Mirror International newsreels, screened prior to the main feature. These time capsule archives – dating from 1919 to September 1984 – have also been archivally preserved by the SANFVSA and provide a vital historical look into the past as well as excellent archival material for usage in documentaries.

It is worth noting that notwithstanding the fact that the NFB was essentially a product of the National Party which instructed its’ film archive to destroy films critical of the state, its’ archivists recognized the value in “undesirable” feature films such as African Jim, The Magic Garden, Land Apart, anti-apartheid documentaries such as Generations of Resistance and even Ohm Kruger, an anti-British feature ostensibly made by the Nazi Party as a gift to South Africa and by preserving these and many other films – at the risk of losing their jobs – they essentially told their NP masters what to go do with themselves.

Looking into the future, the National Film, Video and Sound Archives seeks to continue improving on its preservation strategies by taking into account technological advancement which includes digital technology. With its mother body, the National Archives and Records Service exploring various funding and resourcing mechanisms, the possibilities are endless. The possibility of an Archive conditional Grant brings in new opportunities that will see the establishment of digitisation as a way of bringing to life obsolete formats such as Dictabelts, VHS, audio cassettes etc. This new technology will help connect the past to the present and close the chronic gap that has existed between the user needs and the technological limitations.

The National Film, Video and Sound Archives was once – in its’ previous incarnation as the National Film Board – viewed as the ‘unruly child’ of the then government. It is therefore very gratifying indeed to realize that, fifty years after it’s’ inception as the National Film Board, the child has finally matured: please join me in wishing it well for the next fifty years.
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Flangepart
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« Reply #1 on: November 21, 2014, 11:06:21 AM »

Dude! You know words! Cheers
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Dennis
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« Reply #2 on: November 21, 2014, 01:03:17 PM »

Very good, very good indeed!! Thumbup Thumbup Thumbup
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« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2014, 01:01:41 PM »

Epic Clapping Hands 10 Hours Small | Large
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track the movies you watch in 2014
http://www.badmovies.org/forum/index.php/topic,142132.0.html

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Trevor
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« Reply #4 on: November 24, 2014, 01:06:28 AM »

Dude! You know words! Cheers

Thanks  TeddyR TeddyR
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Trevor
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« Reply #5 on: November 24, 2014, 01:07:12 AM »

Very good, very good indeed!! Thumbup Thumbup Thumbup

Thanks  TeddyR TeddyR
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Trevor
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« Reply #6 on: November 24, 2014, 01:07:46 AM »



Thanks  TeddyR TeddyR
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