Things European

1903 amateur film by Julius Neubronner of a Kronberg bank employee, Moren, performing a number of dances and female impersonations in Neubronner’s garden, from the Deutsches Filminstitut

I’ve written before about filmarchives online, the European-funded project providing integrated access to filmographic and technical information on selected films from archives across Europe. When we last visited the subject (May 2007), there were some 4,000 films (predominantly non-fiction) documented, from five partner archives: Deutsche Filminstitut, the British Film Institute, La Cineteca di Bologna, the DEFA-Foundation and Národní Filmový Archiv Prague.

A year and a half on, and there are now eighteen institutions taking part, of which those contributing content are the British Film Institute, Cinémathèque Royale de Belgique, Cineteca del Comune di Bologna, DEFA Stiftung, Deutsches Filminstitut, Fondazione Cineteca Italiana, IWF Knowledge and Media, LICHTSPIEL / Kinemathek Bern, Magyar Nemzeti Filmarchívum, Národní Filmový Archiv and Tainiothiki tis Ellados. All the participating archives are part of MIDAS (Moving Image Database for Access and Re-use of European film collections), a project funded by the European Union’s MEDIA pogramme to encourage more efficient distribution of historic content in European film collections. The target is 20,000 records to be published by the end of 2008. Individual records come with rich cataloguing details and – rare for online film archive initiatives – technical information on the film elements held.

A selection of films (74 and rising) has been made available for viewing online, the majority of which are early non-fiction titles (a lot of them Mitchell and Kenyon productions from Britain and the ‘amateur’ efforts of Julius Neubronner from Germany). The same films can be found on the project’s YouTube channel. There are plenty of genuinely fascinating gems in there, with a clear emphasis on historic film’s documentary qualities.

While we’re on the subject of European film archive initiatives, it’s worth noting the European Film Gateway, a recently-announced three-year project planning to develop an online portal, “providing direct access to about 790,000 digital objects including films, photos, posters, drawings, sound material and text documents”. Film archives from across Europe (but not Britain) are participating. The project is funded by the European eContentplus programme, and the results will eventually be linked to the Europeana, a planned European digital library, museum and archive. More on this project once it’s properly underway.

You’ll already know about European Film Treasures, also funded by the MEDIA programme, which is delivering a library of historic titles from collections across Europe (including Britain this time), silent and sound.

Go explore.