Just a quick note to let folks know that tomorrow (Tuesday 26 August) at 11.30am there’s a programme on BBC Radio 4 on film archives and silent film, produced at last month’s Bologna film festival. Entitled Caught on Film, the BBC blurb describes it thus:
Our cinematic heritage is literally rotting away. Critic Matthew Sweet visits the Festival Il Cinema Ritrovato in Bologna to explore the vulnerability of film and discovers why both cinematic gems and historically unique documentary films are rapidly disintegrating.
The half-hour programme will be available through the Listen Again service for a week after the broadcast.
Ah, thanks for that, didn’t catch the whole thing last time…will tape it…
A thoughtful, well-constructed programme, well worth catching while there’s time (you’ve got a week). Strong on the techniques of film restoration, with insights from those working at the cliff face, so to speak, at the BFI National Archive. Intelligent observations from Ian Christie and particularly Neil Brand, who can blend the philosophical with the practical better than almost anyone in this business. Kevin Brownlow spoke for the sentimental end of things, asking why silent films were not valued for the historical record that they represented (it’s a complicated matter), and surprisingly choosing actuality film of Alfred Dreyfus from 1899 as an example – a very interesting one – of the unique importance of film as a window on the past. Matthew Sweet ends by suggesting that perhaps we ought not to hope for film to last for all time, but only for a period of time, while there are still audiences to care.