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Exploring the Past and Future of Audiovisual Media in the Baltic Sea Region: Archives, Digital Platforms, Researchers and Spectators

The 9th Baltic Sea Region Film History Conference

June 6–8, 2024 

Venue: Cinema "K.Suns"

Elizabetes Street 83/85, Riga

Programme | June 6

 

8:30 - 9:30 | Baltic Audiovisual Archive Council's General meeting (BAAC members only)

9:30 - 10:00 | Registration

10:00 - 10:45 | Opening of the conference by Dean and Vice Dean of the Latvian Academy of Culture and a representative of the Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council

10:45 - 11:45 |  Keynote: Eva Näripea (Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia) "Frames of History: Navigating the Politics of Film Heritage", chair: Zane Balčus (Vilnius University, Latvian Academy of Culture)

In 1929, Peeter Parikas, the head of Estonia-Film, the oldest and largest Estonian film studio and distributor of its time, urged the State Archives to emulate the ‘culture states’ and establish a specialised depository for collecting, preserving, and cataloguing the works of Estonian film entrepreneurs who lacked the resources to ensure the proper preservation and long-term care of their output (The National Archives of Estonia, ERA.1265.1.118, p.1.). Parikas’ plea eventually bore fruit in the mid-1930s. By 1 January 1937, the State Archives were charged with compiling a ‘chronicle of state events’, in parallel to which a collection of photographs and moving images documenting these occasions was to be developed. While Parikas esteemed the ‘priceless value’ of ‘artistic and entertainment films’, the (authoritarian) decision-makers of the era prioritised the idea of moving images as historical records imbued with overtly political significance.

The moving images deposited at the State Archives until the outbreak of World War II laid the groundwork for the collection now safeguarded by the Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia. This presentation employs the Film Archive of the NAE as a case study to examine the influence of legislative, discursive, curatorial, and technological factors under different political systems in shaping, preserving, and providing access to a national film collection, as well as film culture in a broader sense, in a small country with a complex geopolitical background.

 

Eva Näripea, PhD, is a film scholar and the Director of the Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia. She has worked as an editor for various scholarly journals, such as Studies in Art and Architecture/Kunstiteaduslikke Uurimusi, Baltic Screen Media Review (TLU), and Studies in Eastern European Cinema (Routledge), researched and published on Estonian and East European film history as well as contemporary cinema, and translated several key works in audiovisual theory into Estonian (e.g. Representation by Stuart Hall (ed.) and Film Theory: An Introduction by Robert Stam). In addition to her role as the head of the Film Archive, she continues to do research, with a current focus on the histories of film preservation and pre-World War II cinema in Estonia.

11:45 - 13:15 | Panel I. Film collections, digitization, and sustainability, chair: Zane Balčus (Vilnius University, Latvian Academy of Culture)

Yuliia Kovalenko (Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences, Kharkiv State Academy of Culture) "Updating and Preserving Audiovisual Collections in the Digital Space of Ukraine"

Rapid advancements in video technologies give rise to a multitude of formats for capturing audiovisual content, with a constant evolution and improvement of carriers for their storage. Their limited lifespan and vulnerability entail certain risks of loss and the potential disappearance of numerous cultural treasures. The primary institution responsible for preserving audiovisual heritage in Ukraine are the Central State CinePhotoPhono Archives named after G. S. Pshenychny, which conduct digitization and electronic cataloging of documents. The Archives were established in the 1930s, and their earliest audiovisual materials date back to 1896.

The prioritized technology for preserving audiovisual collections is digitization, initiated in 2003, which has completely replaced analog recordings today. Adherence to unified digitization formats is crucial: the first master copy is stored in AVI format, which is uncompressed and maximally preserves the resolution of a digital video. Copies for users are converted to WMV format, convenient for viewing on digital video players.

The digitization of audiovisual collections contributes to the revitalization of historical heritage on modern digital platforms. One such platform is the Archives’ website, hosting thematic exhibitions and presenting film and video documents. Periodic publication of collection presentations on websites and social media contributes to data actualization and consumer outreach.

Additionally, there are civil initiatives for digital archiving and research of film and photo documents, such as the Lviv Center for Urban History, which initiated the Urban Media Archive project. It engages in digital collection and research of historical sources while adhering to legal principles and open access. Its main task is archiving materials often overlooked by state institutions that represent a unique history of the city.

The promotion of Ukraine's audiovisual heritage through freely accessible platforms fosters a growing interest in national cultural treasures within and beyond the country’s borders.

 

Yuliia Kovalenko graduated from Kharkiv I.P. Kotlyarevsky National University of Arts with a degree in Musicology. In 2009, Yuliia defended her PhD thesis – an analysis of eight opera scores by Sergey Slonimsky. Yuliia has 27 years of experience in research and education. She has worked at the Kharkiv State Academy of Culture since 2005; she received the academic title of associate professor in 2019. Yuliia leads audiovisual projects at Initiative Film Group Wide Screen and is also an expert on audiovisual projects at the Ukrainian Cultural Foundation. In the last few years, her research interests focus on audiovisual arts and education. Yuliia currently works on the project CineGame Ukraine: A Contemporary Ukrainian Research-Based Digital Art Game for Developing Narrative Skills and Cinema Literacy (2023-2025) No. 1233058 in collaboration with ViA and Kharkiv State Academy of Culture (Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant).

Mikko Kuutti (National Audiovisual Institute, Finland) "The Finnish Film Collections"

The Finnish Film Archive was established in 1957 as a private association. In 1979, it became a government institution, giving it existential stability. The legal deposit was decreed in 1984, which resulted in a deluge of deposits from film production companies. Everyone realised the benefits of free storage of film elements.  This was the golden era of growth for the archive. What had started as a typical film enthusiast operation, finally became a national film collection.

The Act on Film Archiving, which decreed the legal deposit of Finnish film, also covered the deposit of any videograms distributed in the country, so VHS and later DVDs and Blu-ray discs started to form a collection in the archive.

Depositing foreign film prints remained voluntary, but good relations with distribution companies have also resulted in a very wide collection of non-Finnish titles. It was cheaper to deposit prints in the archive than to have them destroyed. 

The 1980s were also the time when the archive built its film vaults. At first, the collections were kept in questionable conditions in various ammunition storage vaults dating to the time of the Russian regime in Finland. They were safely carved in the bedrock but dripping with water. A purpose-built nitrate vault was constructed, as well as another one for other film bases and non-film collections. These are in the bedrock but equipped with proper technology to maintain suitable storage conditions.

Production and distribution of moving images on film ended in the early 2010s as digital workflows replaced ones based on physical elements. The film archive continues to receive the occasional film print found in a basement, but the majority of deposits now are Finnish DCPs and some DCDMs. Foreign films are rarely received anymore, which is a major concern for future cinémathèque operations.

 

Mikko Kuutti was poached from the emerging digital post-production industry in Helsinki to head the collections of the Finnish Film Archive as the deputy director in 2001. There was nothing but analogue in sight, but digital was recognised as the future – and the new guy was the one to take the lead. Some twenty years later, Kuutti holds the same position in an institution with a new name (Kansallinen audiovisuaalinen  instituutti / National Audiovisual Institute, or KAVI). Somewhere along the way, he stopped thinking of himself as a film archiving neophyte.

Mikko is an architect by education, specialized in building conservation and restoration. He researched film cold storage in his Master’s thesis and finds the chemistry and technology of celluloid fascinating. He has been a member of the executive committee of the Association of European Cinematheques (ACE) since 2010, and a member of the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) since 2023.

Noora Kallioniemi (University of Turku) "Sustainability in Digital Humanities and ​​Film Archiving"

The intersection of digital humanities and film archiving presents a unique opportunity to explore sustainability within the context of cultural heritage preservation. Digital humanities challenge traditional methodologies by offering innovative approaches to analyze digitized cultural artifacts, including films, photographs, and texts. Literary scholar Franco Moretti’s concept of distant reading encourages researchers to identify larger patterns within extensive literary materials, while close reading remains integral to humanities scholarship.

However, the text-centric nature of digital humanities has faced criticism, urging scholars to adopt a more inclusive approach that encompasses diverse media forms. Taylor Arnold and Lauren Tilton advocate for distant viewing, emphasizing computer-assisted methods to analyze audiovisual materials. This shift underscores the importance of integrating multimedia sources into scholarly discourse. Digital humanities are made possible because a significant portion of cultural heritage materials is available digitally. However, the large volume of digital archives also raises questions about the ecological sustainability of these materials.

In parallel, the film archiving community is increasingly recognizing the significance of environmental sustainability. Despite growing concerns about climate change, sustainability remains an underexplored area within film archival studies. The next discussion of the field should be to consider the environmental footprint of the film archival sector and evaluate the transition toward sustainable practices amidst the climate crisis.

In this presentation, I will use as examples two research projects from the University of Turku: the Finnish Academy-funded project Movie Making Finland: Finnish fiction films as audiovisual big data, 1907–2017 (MoMaF) and the Kone Foundation-funded project Elokuvan ekohistoria (Ecological History of Cinema), which explores the history of Finnish cinema from an eco-critical perspective.

 

Noora Kallioniemi is a postdoctoral researcher in cultural history at the Department of Cultural History at the University of Turku, Finland. She is currently working as part of a research group studying Finnish feature films from an ecocritical perspective. Additionally, she has her own research project focusing on film exhibition practices in Finnish Karelia during World War II. Kallioniemi has also worked as a researcher at the Finnish Film Archive.

13:15 - 14:30 | Lunch break

14:30 - 16:00 | Panel II. Reaching audiences, chair: Dace Čaure (LAC Riga Film Museum)

Līga Vinogradova (Latvian Academy of Culture) "From Cinemas to Home-Based Film Watching: Audience Research in Latvian Cinemas"

The dominating discourse in policy and research is that digital developments are offering great potential for inclusion and greater access to current and potential audiences (European Commission, 2017; Weingartner, 2020). The most recent cultural consumption research in Latvia (2022) revealed a rapid growth in digital consumption on the internet. The most popular digital cultural activity was watching foreign films online (with 55% of the Latvian population having participated in this activity), and the third most popular activity was watching Latvian films online (45%). Yet, between 2018 and 2022, cinema consumption has experienced a decline, dropping from 29% to 18%. Consumers’ choices in selecting not only the genre of films but also the various types of digital media and cinema can be significantly influenced by their social position (Weingartner, 2020). However, until recently, there was a lack of data regarding film consumption practices in Latvia, encompassing both cinema and digital film audiences. In 2023, audience research at Latvian cinemas was conducted by the research team of the Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies of the Latvian Academy of Culture. The aim of the research was to determine audience consumption practices and how digital technologies have influenced cinema attendance habits, including the transition from dominant film consumption practices from cinemas and TV channels to digital platforms. A quantitative survey was conducted in 2023 across nine cinemas in Latvia (four in the capital city Rīga and five in other regions), resulting in a total of 650 responses (n=650). The questionnaire covered topics such as cinema attendance and film consumption outside cinemas, including digital film consumption, and experiences of consuming Latvian films both in cinema and digitally. The results revealed disparities in film consumption and the way in which the digital shift is unfolding across regions and among different age groups. The research was carried out as part of the project “Cultural and creative ecosystem of Latvia as a resource for resilience and sustainability”/CERS (No. VPP-MM-LKRVA-2023/1-0001).

 

Līga Vinogradova holds a PhD in Sociology and works as a researcher at the Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies of the Latvian Academy of Culture. Her research field is in the sociology of culture and arts, with a particular focus on audience research and cultural consumption, research methodology in social sciences, and how to study emotions sociologically. Currently, Līga is engaged in various state-funded projects concerning participation in museums, digital culture consumption, and youth involvement in formal and non-formal education. Additionally, she actively participates in applied research projects commissioned by cultural institutions and policymakers in Latvia, covering a wide array of topics, such as audience research, cultural participation, evaluation of cultural projects, and the amateur arts movement. Līga’s extensive experience in numerous research projects has refined her expertise in qualitative and quantitative research methodologies, including non-traditional approaches, such as visual research methods, participatory research, and social network analysis.

Dita Rietuma (Latvian Academy of Culture, Rīga Stradiņš University) "Latvian Contemporary Cinema in the Era of Streaming"

 

The last decade has brought profound changes to the classic model of film production and distribution. These changes have been largely dictated by the popularity of the global platforms (Netflix, etc.) and changing viewing habits. Changes in viewing habits brought by the pandemic have contributed to the consumption of films on the internet. How is Latvian cinema adapting to these new circumstances?  Although Latvian cinema is not essentially represented on global streaming platforms, most of the recent Latvian films are available on local streaming platforms, such as TET, LMT, etc. Will viewers who have not seen a Latvian film in cinemas watch it on a streaming platform?

These are all important, yet unanswered questions, as streaming platforms have not had to provide information on the Latvian films they screen. In early 2024, thanks to changes in legislation, the National Film Centre of Latvia started to collect this data.  What are the features and trends and what explains them? These are the themes addressed both in the paper and in the broader study devoted to the analysis of the distribution of Latvian cinema since 2023. Local streaming platforms not only distribute Latvian films supported in the “traditional” way by the state institutions – the National Film Centre (or by the State Culture Capital Foundation), but they also produce original content – mainly series.

What is the output of the platforms that are also beginning to form a certain part of Latvian cinema? The range of themes is wide, the issues are diverse. The paper draws on both quantitative data and qualitative analysis methods to outline the situation of Latvian cinema in the era of digital platforms.

 

Dita Rietuma holds a PhD from the University of Latvia (2013) with a thesis on the development and influence of film noir on the world and Latvian cinema. Her film reviews, published in the press on a regular basis, reflect on current cinema affairs. She has participated in many studies on film and researched the development of the Latvian film industry over the last thirty years, including funding, genre dynamics, and audiences. She is also the author and co-author of several books devoted to film history.

Rietuma’s research interests include contemporary world cinema, film history, and national cinema. She has studied the expression of modernism in Latvian cinema, particularly in the works of director Rolands Kalniņš. She was the scientific co-editor and the author of several voluminous articles of the monograph Latvian Cinema: Recent History, 1990 – 2020 (2021). Dita Rietuma is also an assistant professor at Rīga Stradiņš University, researcher at the Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies at the Latvian Academy of Culture, as well as the Head of the National Film Centre of Latvia.


Jarmo Nagel (Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia) "Film Heritage in the Classroom – edu.arkaader Case Study"

The National Archives of Estonia, in collaboration with the Estonian Film Institute, launched a video-on-demand platform dedicated to preserving Estonian film heritage in late 2022. Arkaader, the platform, not only features a public portal for discovering films through curated collections, a film map, and a timeline but also includes a dedicated section for educational purposes. During the 2023/2024 school year, a pilot project was initiated with a selected group of teachers to assess the platform’s functionality and explore the various ways to integrate film heritage into the school curriculum. The presentation aims to provide a concise overview of Arkaader's educational platform development process, present findings from the pilot program, and initiate a discussion on the significance of bringing film heritage into our classrooms.

 

Jarmo Nagel joined the Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia in 2016 as the lead specialist of born-digital films. For the past two years, he has been the development lead and project manager of AArkaader.

16:00 - 17:00­­ | Panel III. Interpreting film texts and contexts, chair: Daniela Zacmane (LAC Riga Film Museum)

Samantha Bodamer (University of Pittsburgh) "Temporal Assemblages: The Interplay of Fictional Narrative and Archival Footage in Viesturs Kairišs’s January "

This paper delves into the narrative construction of Viesturs Kairišs’s 2022 feature film January (Janvāris), which intricately weaves together Juris Podnieks’ documentaries and the private archives of Zigurds Vidiņš. Set against the backdrop of Latvia’s struggle for independence from Soviet occupation in the early months of 1991, the film offers a coming-of-age tale centered around an aspiring young filmmaker. By melding historical footage with fictional storytelling, Kairišs crafts a cinematic experience that blurs the boundaries between past and present. Drawing upon Gilles Deleuze’s concept of “crystals of time,” this paper delves deeper into the temporal complexities inherent in Kairišs’s approach. Deleuze posits that time is not linear but rather consists of crystalline structures, where past, present, and future coexist in a dynamic interplay (Deleuze 2005: 66-94). In January, the incorporation of archival material serves to disrupt conventional narrative structure, allowing for the simultaneous existence of multiple temporalities within the filmic space. Through a close analysis of techniques employed by Kairišs, such as montage and intercutting, this paper unpacks how the archival footage functions as a catalyst for temporal rupture. Kairišs creates a dialogue between history and memory, inviting viewers to reconsider their understanding of temporality and historical consciousness. January stands as a compelling example of the transformative potential of the archive as a tool to challenge conventional notions of chronology and to challenge viewers to engage with history in a dynamic and reflexive manner.

 

Samantha Bodamer is a PhD student in the joint Slavic and Film and Media Studies program at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests include Soviet national cinemas of the Thaw-era, Soviet and independent cinema of the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, The Riga School of Poetic Documentary Cinema, 20th century art cinema, and modernism in film. She received her BA in Russian and East European Studies and Film Studies from the CUNY Baccalaureate Program for Interdisciplinary Studies at Hunter College in New York City.

Elīna Reitere (Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia, Kino Raksti) "Your Happiness (Tava laime) by Ada Neretniece and Epistemic Imperialism of the Discursive Fields"

In Latvian film historiography, the feature film Your Happiness (Tava laime) (1960) by Ada Neretniece has been regarded as the worst film in history. At first glance, this opinion seems justified, especially from the current point of view, when the problems of Soviet society on screen seem pointless.
The film is set in a shipyard that needs a reconstruction. A young bank inspector, Velta, makes calculations as to which reconstruction project would be more feasible and concur best with the future plans of Soviet economics. But her decision-making process has a private angle as well, because she has to choose between the initiator of the reconstruction project, the brigadier, and her fiancé, the lead engineer.
Using the concept of slow film criticism as a starting point, I will tackle the different framings that the film actually allows. In doing so, I will not only expand the discursive fields in which this film can be integrated, but also explore the different hierarchies of the discursive fields and the epistemic imperialism that underlies them.
 

Dr. phil. Elīna Reitere is a film scholar and critic, researcher at the Institute of Literature, Folklore and Art of the University of Latvia and 2nd editor-in-chief of the Latvian film magazine kinoraksti.lv. She studied audio-visual culture, film, media, and performance studies in Riga and Mainz (Germany). She wrote her dissertation on narration in slow cinema (published in 2018). Her latest academic publication – an article in the monograph Latvian Cinema: Recent History, 1990-2020 (2021) – deals with the careers of different generations of Latvian filmmakers after 1990. Currently, she is developing it into a book on the social history of the Latvian film industry. In 2019, she was nominated for the Normunds Naumanis Prize for Art Criticism in Latvia for her academic film reviews.

Programme | June 7

10:00 - 11:00 |  Keynote: Jaimie Baron (UC Berkeley) "The Archive, the AI Gaze, and the Refraction of Historical Evidence", chair: Zane Balčus (Vilnius University, Latvian Academy of Culture)

The appropriation and reuse of archival documents always involves the dialectical interaction of multiple gazes to produce meaning: the gaze associated with the original document and the gaze of the appropriationist who places the document within a new context. These gazes may be quite disparate in both their intention and effect, but until recently, they could both be assumed to be associated with and, at least in theory, traceable to a human agent. With the advent of AI imaging, the gaze of the appropriationist is no longer guaranteed to be human. Nor is such an AI appropriation necessarily even legible as an appropriation. Indeed, AI imaging has the potential to seamlessly rearrange and stitch together elements of archival images in such a way that the original images may be fractured, combined within the frame, and (re)constituted into a new configuration – an archival refraction, as it were – that originates in a nonhuman agency. What kind of historical evidence or archival practice, if any, can resist this refractive process, and what will be its epistemological and historiographic consequences? This talk explores the ways in which AI images that appear to be “archival” introduce the threat of both anachronism and anatopism into the historical record in ways that may collapse distinct historical times and places into an AI chronotope to which there is no exterior.

 

Dr. Jaimie Baron is a writer, editor, curator, and theorist. She is the author of two books, The Archive Effect: Found Footage and the Audiovisual Experience of History (Routledge, 2014) and Reuse, Misuse, Abuse: The Ethics of Audiovisual Appropriation in the Digital Era (Rutgers, 2020) as well as numerous journal articles and book chapters. She is the director of the Festival of (In)appropriation and co-editor of the Docalogue website and book series. She was a 2022 – 2023 recipient of a Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship. She currently lectures in Film and Media at UC Berkeley.

11:00 - 12:30­­ | Panel IV. Nordic film archives: history and contemporary practices, chair: Eva Näripea (Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia)

Jon Wengström (Swedish Film Institute) "The History of the Swedish Film Institute’s Archival Collections"

The Archival Collections of the Swedish Film Institute originate from Svenska Filmsamfundet (The Swedish Film Society) which was founded in 1933, and is thus one of the oldest still existing film archives in the world. In the beginning, the archive mainly collected scripts, posters, stills, and other film-related material, but towards the end of the 1930s - also films. The collections of Svenska Filmsamfundet gained an independent status in 1940 under the name Filmhistoriska samlingarna (the Film Historic Collections) and were located at Tekniska Museet (Museum of Science and Technology) in Stockholm. In 1964, the collections were integrated into the newly established Swedish Film Institute, and the collections were physically moved in 1971, when the new building of the Institute was erected.
The paper will focus on the origins of the collections, and on the first and only curator of Filmhistoriska samlingarna, Einar Lauritzen, and his vision of what a film archive should be. Being dependent on financial support from the industry, he advocated that a film archive is of national heritage importance and should be funded with public money, something he struggled in vain to achieve. Under his direction, Filmhistoriska samlingarna was granted membership in the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) in 1948, which not only facilitated the exchange of experience and expertise, but also led to Swedish heritage films being shown outside of Sweden, gaining international reputation. Lauritzen was opposed to the integration of the collections into the Swedish Film Institute, and as a result resigned when the agreement was signed. 
However, being part of a larger public institution finally enabled the archive to have proper storage facilities, and active preservation in form of duplication could be done at a much bigger scale than before. Deposits from producers and distributors also evolved when the Swedish Film Institute took over. Today, the Swedish Film Institute has its in-house digital lab, and detailed specifications of the deposit of digital files and film-related material ensure the preservation of Swedish film heritage.

 

Jon Wengström began working at the Swedish Film Institute as a cinematheque programmer in 1990; he was Curator of the Institute’s Archival Film Collections 2003-2019, and is currently its Senior Curator. He served on the FIAF Executive Committee as Treasurer 2013-2023, and prior to that was a member of FIAF’s Programming and Access to Collections Commission. He has curated programs and given lectures on Swedish films and film history, and on preservation and archival policy, at numerous archives, festivals, and conferences throughout the world. He has written several articles for Journal of Film Preservation and other publications and is a member of the Artistic committee of Il Cinema Ritrovato festival in Bologna. 

Thomas C. Christensen (Danish Film Institute) "Film Archiving in Denmark – Past and Present"

Film archiving in Denmark dates back to the first establishment of a collection of 70 short films, deposited at The Royal Library in 1913. Later, the national film collections were hosted by The Danish Film Museum (established in 1941), as well as The National Museum and other public institutions and private companies.

The paper will give a brief history of the Danish film collections, the logic behind their hosting by different institutions, and how this history today shapes the field of accessibility on online platforms; which films are lost, and what drives the current digitization efforts. While not an in-depth film historiographic discussion of the availability and gaps that strategies and serendipity of film preservation offer current users and researchers, the paper will attempt to give a practical insight into the workings of a national film collection institution.

The paper will address what collections survive, how are they preserved, how are they made accessible today, and plans for the near future. Also, a broader perspective on film heritage collections and their display online will be discussed; using the web platforms WWW.STUMFILM.DK, WWW.DANMARKPAAFILM.DK, and www.dfi.dk/viden-om-film/filmdatabasen as concrete examples, with practical insights into what, how, and why certain collections are chosen over others for digitization and free display.

 

Thomas C. Christensen holds an M.A. in Film Studies from the University of Copenhagen. After teaching film history, film analysis, and production at the University of Copenhagen and Aarhus University he was appointed Curator at the Danish Film Institute in 1998. His main areas of responsibility are acquisition, preservation, and restoration of Danish cinema. He served on the FIAF Technical Commission 2003-15 (as Head of Commission 2006-11). In April 2007, he finished a project on the lost films of Danish actress Asta Nielsen. Since 2010, he has served on the Executive Committee of the Association of European Cinematheques (ACE). Currently, he is involved in a project digitizing all surviving Danish silent films from 1896 to 1929. He is an internationally sought-after expert in film preservation and restoration ethics and has recently provided talks and advice on film preservation and collection management in Poland, Montenegro, Northern Macedonia, and Greenland. He has worked both as a work package leader and an expert on many European Union-funded projects during the last two decades, in areas covering film preservation, digitization, copyright, and online dissemination.

Jan Erik Holst (independent critic, curator) "The Establishment of a Norwegian Cinematheque. A Study of Its Founding, Development, and Challenges Through 40 Years"
 

The Norwegian Film Institute was established on the 1st of June 1956, following a proposal from the National Association of Municipal Cinemas. (Evensmo 1967/1992)

After 12 years under the leadership of Bo Wingård, in small premises in Kingos Gate, the Institute moved to a modern office building at Røa, 15 kilometres outside downtown Oslo. (Nymo 2006) Gradually, the wish arose to move the Institute to more suitable premises in the centre of Oslo. The opportunity came when the State was in need of a tenant in a wonderfully restored building in the downtown area, the so-called Military Hospital, which had been re-erected in the Kvadraturen district. On the 11th of May 1984, the Norwegian Film Institute opened its premises. (Holst 2006) In 1993, the Norwegian Film Institute merged with the National Film Board of Norway, and three years later, the two institutions moved into a newly rebuilt and newly furnished Film House, close to the Military Hospital. This building provided ample space, including an entrance hall and a large library with an adjoining documentation collection, and two newly built cinema halls with 197 + 60 seats. (Nymo 2006) The main credit for the immediate success of the Film House goes to the Cinematheque. This film dissemination institution, which had its humble beginnings in 1980 in the basement of Klingenberg Cinema Theatre, under the name of Kinoteket – a cooperation between Oslo Kinematografer and the Norwegian Film Institute – was transferred to the NFI in 1984. 

This paper will discuss the development and management of the Norwegian Cinemateque and the relationship between the responsibility of the government and the municipalities for film art and culture in Norway.

 

Jan Erik Holst (born 1949) is a freelance film critic, curator, and editor, working for foreign and domestic festivals and cinematheques. Educated at the Institution for Film Science (1972-1974) and the Dramatic Institute (1977-1978) in Stockholm, he managed municipal cinemas and was a lecturer in film history at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, the Telemark University College, and the University of Oslo. He was the Director of the Norwegian Film Institute (1988-2014) where he managed the film archive, film history, cultural activities, support for film production, and international relations.

Holst has edited, written, and published several articles and books on films, film policy and history, among them the anthology Stork Flying Over Pinewood, Nordic Baltic Film Cooperation (2014). He was instrumental in creating the Black Nights Film Festival in Tallinn and the Scanorama Film Festival in Vilnius. In 2003, he established the Baltic Film Days in Oslo. 

12:30 - 13:30 | Lunch break

13:30 - 15:00 | Panel V. Navigating archival materials on and off screen, chair: Daniela Zacmane (LAC Riga Film Museum)

Céline Vermeire (meemoo), Bruno Mestdagh (CINEMATEK (the Royal Film Archive of Belgium)) "Flemish Non-Fiction Film Heritage Mapped Out"

 

An important part of the world’s film heritage is dispersed and preserved outside of film archives, but to rescue it, knowledge, skills, and infrastructure are of exceptional importance. This was the starting point of the collaboration between meemoo, the Flemish Institute for Archives and the Royal Film Archive of Belgium – CINEMATEK, set up in Flanders in 2015. It focuses on the registration, preservation, and digitization of the non-fiction film heritage owned by Flemish libraries, archives, museums, performing arts organizations, government institutions, and city archives.

The partnership paved the way for large digitization projects and has led to remarkably positive and previously unattainable results regarding the reuse of film collections in new contexts and for new audiences. For instance, dozens of digitized films are also offered by meemoo on the educational platform The Archive for Education, through which Flemish teachers and pupils can use selections of audiovisual archive content tailored to their learning objectives.

This presentation will provide an overview of the Flemish film heritage landscape, of meemoo and CINEMATEK’s unique approaches to preserve it, highlighting the registration, assessment, and content description activities, with an emphasis on collaboration as a solid base for further conservation and digitization of very diverse and dispersed film collections on a regional scale.

 

Céline Vermeire holds an MA in Art History (UGent), an MA in Curating Art and Cultures (VU Amsterdam), and an MS in Digital Humanities (KU Leuven). She is the digitization project manager at meemoo and is responsible for the digitization of the Flemish film heritage preserved by archives, museums, government agencies, performing arts organizations, and broadcasters.

 

Bruno Mestdagh has been employed at the Royal Film Archive of Belgium – CINEMATEK since 1987, currently serving as the head of the digital film collection. In this role, he oversees the coordination and selection of film elements for restoration and digitization. He has actively participated in various European projects aimed at facilitating access to digitized historical films from archives across Europe. Additionally, he curates classic and silent films in his hometown.

Zane Balčus (Vilnius University, Latvian Academy of Culture) "Microhistorical Autobiographical Narratives in Recent Baltic Documentary Cinema"

Autobiography, as a retrospective narrative authored by a real individual regarding their own existence, predominantly centres on the exploration of one’s personal life (Lejeune, 1989). This literary form has transcended its traditional bounds and manifested itself in an array of diverse formats within documentary filmmaking. In cinema, when authors recount their own experiences, they often reveal a paradox wherein the subjectivity is not singular or solipsistic, but rather multifaceted and intertwined with interpersonal relationships (Egan, 1994). This phenomenon underscores the collaborative nature of self-representation in film, involving the participation in the filmmaking practice of other professionals and conveying the narratives through the incorporation of various audiovisual materials and appropriation strategies. Particularly within the contemporary cultural landscape, individual experiences and memories are shaped and conveyed as mediated representations, thus giving rise to the concept of mediated memory (van Dijck, 2007). The proliferation of public archives, extensive digitization of private archives, and the advancement of video and digital technologies have further broadened the avenues through which mediated memory is created.

These repositories of moving images are very advantageous for a form of documentary narrative which can be defined as microhistorical, where the autobiographical viewpoint places personal memory at the core of historical investigation. (Cuevas 2022)

Utilizing diverse cinematic techniques, the authors of these films craft narratives centered on themselves and their families, offering insights into history through a personal lens. In this presentation, I aim to analyze films produced in the Baltic states over the recent decades, wherein a distinct form of autobiographical expression and historical theme is evident, warranting classification as microhistorical documentary filmmaking. The examination will encompass the works of Ilze Burkovska-Jakobsen, Ülo Pikkov, Giedrė Beinoriūtė, and others, whose films underscore the significance of individual experience in interpreting historical themes and contexts through archival images.

 

Zane Balčus, PhD, is a postdoctoral researcher at Vilnius University (Lithuania). Balčus has contributed to several books on Latvian cinema (“Latvijas kino. Jaunie laiki. 1990-2020” (Latvian Cinema: Recent History, 1990-2020, Riga: 2021), “Rolanda Kalniņa telpa” (Cinematic Space of Rolands Kalniņš, Riga: 2018), “Inscenējumu realitāte. Latvijas aktierkino vēsture“ (Reality of Fiction. History of Latvian Fiction Film, Riga: 2011)). She is a researcher and a freelance film critic. From 2014 to 2019, Balčus was the Head of the Riga Film Museum. She is also the project manager of the documentary film industry event Baltic Sea Forum for Documentaries in Riga, Latvia, and a researcher at the Institute of Arts and Cultural Studies of the Latvian Academy of Culture. 

Lāsma Bērtule (The National Film School of the Latvian Academy of Culture) "Transmutation of the Text: Book of High Wisdom on the World and Nature"

In 1774 in Courland, Jelgava, the Baltic-German pastor, author, linguist, alchemist, inventor, and educator Gotthard Friedrich Stender published a book titled Book of High Wisdom on the World and Nature. In line with the ideals of folk enlightenment, the book is a first-person address to the Latvian peasants, explaining in a simple, evocative manner the natural processes and organization of the world, based on contemporary scientific findings. Known as the first popular science publication in Latvian, it is possibly also the first of this kind of encyclopedic work in Europe addressed to the common people.

Fascinated by this artifact and its maker in all their contradictions and far-reaching reverberations, and inspired by Stender’s passion for impossible alchemical undertakings, a few years ago I decided to translate the book into a medium that couldn’t be known to Stender and yet was made possible by the same scientific world-view he promoted – cinema. That is, to make a screen adaptation of the book, creating an audiovisual narrative based on loosely connected facts and historical characters of little visual evidence. In this presentation, I will try to give an account of that process.

 

Lāsma Bērtule is a filmmaker from Riga, Latvia. She studied film theory and later film directing at the Latvian Academy of Culture, worked at the digitization department at the Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents, and is currently in charge of archiving and distributing student films at the National Film School of the Latvian Academy of Culture. She is also a member of Riga artist-run film lab Baltic Analog Lab and curator at Experimental Film Festival Process. She is currently working on her first feature film.

15:00 - 16:30 | Panel VI. Shifting perspectives, chair: Dace Čaure (LAC Riga Film Museum)

Lina Kaminskaite-Jančoriene (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre) "How Are Streaming Platforms Impacting Small Film Industries?"

 

The focus of the presentation is on the digitalization process of the film industry (i.e., the organizational effect of restructuring business, cultural practices through the application of digital technologies: Paul McDonald, Courtney Brannon Donoghue, and Timothy Havens). This approach allows for distinguishing the impact of digitization beyond simple technological influence and understanding how this process, related to globalization, affects local cinema cultures.

The influence of streaming platforms, like Netflix, is widely discussed by contemporary film and TV researchers (Ramon Lobato, Mattias Frey), yet there is still a lack of research analyzing the impact of these platforms on small film industries and their production. In my presentation, based on data obtained from the interviews with Lithuanian film producers and policy makers, I will discuss the challenges posed in terms of production, financing, and distribution processes of Lithuanian films. The presentation is part of the collaborative project DIGISCREENS - Identities and Democratic Values on European Digital Screens: Distribution, Reception, and Representation.

 

Lina Kaminskaitė, PhD, is a cinema and media researcher, associate professor, Head of Art History and Theory Department at LMTA. In 2019/2020, she was an affiliated researcher at Utrecht University. Currently, she is the PI in the international research project DIGISCREENS. Identities and Democratic Values on European Digital Screens: Distribution, Reception, and Representation. She is also the lead researcher at Media Education and Research Centre Meno Avilys, where she initiates and carries out creative projects within the fields of New Cinema History, audio-visual media heritage, and feminist film research.

 

Inese Boka-Grūbe (Latvian Academy of Culture) "Modelling and Profiling of Audience of Historical Films in the Marketing Messages of Digital Distribution (reviewing cases of Latvia and beyond)"

Due to the digitization of films, historical films produced during the Soviet occupation period and restored today have become available on streaming platforms as well as on television. These films are already perceived as historical by contemporary audiences, and in terms of film distribution, there is a need to change their marketing messages, as compared to the promotional messages used during the time of their first releases. Films once made as contemporary narratives, upon digitization and release to new audiences become historical. The audiences do not have a direct experience of the historical period portrayed and require an expanded knowledge and explanation of the era.

Historical films produced today and released on digital platforms also enter a broader film context, with a need to position them using a message relevant to the context of the current time, seeking to also answer the question of why these films were made for contemporary audiences and what is the field of reception of the historical narratives by different audiences. The information war waged by Russia after the full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 also calls for a review of how audiences communicate and perceive the narratives of historical films produced in recent years, which are narratives shaped by historical events and interpretations of the 1970s, 1980s, and early 1990s. Nostalgic messages, resistance to the occupation regime, or a nation’s struggle for freedom in the descriptions of the released and marketed films, as well as the images chosen for marketing and communication in the digital environment, film trailers, poster designs, and their content, including colours, become the cultural reception of the era. These messages and narratives can be analysed within the context of communication of historical themes in a contemporary society - what the filmmakers and distributors want to address or communicate.

 

Inese Boka-Grūbe is a PhD student at the Latvian Academy of Culture, researching reception of historical films. Inese holds a BA in Psychology (University of Latvia), MA in European Studies (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), and MA in Audiovisual Arts (Latvian Academy of Culture). Currently a partner and producer at the Latvian film production company Mistrus Media, she has been working in production since 2005, producing feature documentaries, historical fiction films, and TV series. Inese is a member of The European Producers Club, European Film Academy, The Latvian Film Producers Association, and the ACE Producers Network.

Aigars Ceplītis & Voyce Sabrina Durling-Jones (RISEBA University) "Spectatorship Archaeology in JFK MEMENTO (2023): Prosthetic Memory on Shard Platforms in Cinematic VR"

This paper discusses the narratological codes of a documentary on President Kennedy’s assassination to examine prosthetic memory through the lens of spectatorship archaeology.  Comparing the dynamics of the historical narratives in both the United States and the Baltic region, the text triangulates prosthetic memory, a phenomenon of shard cinema, both as a visual style and a reflection of the immersive platforms, and the phenomenological exchange between the filmic plane and its target audience. While the concept of prosthetic memory represents a form of cultural heritage that allows spectators to empathize with historical experiences they did not live through, from a phenomenological perspective, it reflects the complex and reciprocal nature of cinematic intelligence, which encompasses a range of embodied sensations for the audience in Cinematic VR 3D (3DSC) space. This paper argues that JFK Memento-VR challenges the mainstream understanding of the assassination and prompts a reevaluation of the audience’s relationship with the historical narrative, along its ideological, perceptual, and psychological axis. The documentary’s use of photorealistic 3D scans, on-the-spot shots, and archival visual artefacts (films, photos, and TV broadcasts) to recreate the Kennedy assassination in six degrees of freedom (6DoF), methods that are all meant to rekindle the audience’s relationship with the event, are only superficially effective.  Its actual role in shaping the communal experiences is an ever-evolving Rorschach test, whereby a crucial historical act may become an ongoing obsession with national narratives, firmly fixed in the past. In this way, the vortex spiral of the individual and collective memories of the American and the Baltic expe-riences is very much alike.

 

Asst. Prof. Aigars Ceplītis is the Dean of the Faculty of Media and Creative Technologies at the RISEBA University of Applied Sciences. A member of the Steering Committee of the European Narratology Network, and a researcher of production strategies with a focus on narrative taxonomies in 360 3D Spherical Cinema, Aigars is also an administrative director of a research team specializing in immersive media and AI. Aigars holds an M.F.A. in Film from the California Institute of the Arts and a B.A. in Art History from Lawrence University. He has also studied theater directing at John Goodman School of Drama at DePaul University, by which he contin-ues to bring the Anglo-Saxon theatrical tradition into the core training of RISEBA’s directing major.

 

Voyce Sabrina Durling-Jones is a PhD candidate in Media Art and Creative Technologies (MACT), a joint doctoral program offered through RISEBA and Liepaja Universities (Latvia). Her research focuses on the use of emerging technologies to reimagine displacement and dias-pora as both physical phenomena tied to place and memory and as algorithmic manifestations caused by historic absences in the human archive that can result in digital displacement. Her creative practice incorporates using her own data set of artistic production to train generative machine learning models (GenAI) and produce new works reimagined from old, through hu-man-computer creative collaboration (H3C).

Programme | June 8

10:00 - 11:00­ | Keynote: Madara Didrihsone (Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents) "Digital Transformation of the Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents", chair: Eva Näripea (Film Archive of the National Archives of Estonia)

This paper aims to investigate the digital transformation process undergone by the Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents (LSAAD), considering the backdrop of global and regional technological, political, economic, and social changes. The contextual landscape is characterized by:

●      transition to democracy and a free-market economy, along with Europeanization;

●      technological advancements facilitating rapid information exchange and introducing increasing amounts of audiovisual content into daily information streams;

●      changes in the conceptualization of memory, emphasizing external and collective memory, and recognizing its active and generative aspects;

●      specificity of audiovisual archives, preserving documents that seldom serve as intentional pillars of institutional memory and, in terms of content provided, being closer to libraries and museums.

In the early 1990s, LSAAD was a modest institution in a transitioning country that witnessed the global acceleration of technological development over the ruins of the Iron Curtain.

Presently, LSAAD has an infrastructure in place that:

●      supports the digital flow of information, facilitating internal workflows, and extending outreach to the public. Its public database – redzidzirdilatviju.lv – provides open access to nearly 100,000 photographs, over 6,000 films, and over 1,000 sound recordings;

●      allows in-house digitization of most documents, reaching quality comparable to the originals. Digitization is regarded as one of the core tasks – in 2023, approximately 17% of the total time resources were dedicated to digitizing over 18,000 photographic documents, nearly 1,000 cinematographic and video documents, and around 100 sound documents;

●      allows participation in larger data integration processes (the Digital Library project).

This inquiry focuses on comprehending the key factors, both successful and less so, driving and shaping the transformation. It is hoped that a deeper understanding of the past might offer valuable lessons on the brink of the next technological leap.

 

Madara Didrihsone, Deputy Head of the Digitization Department at the Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents. Professionally rooted in film editing, she has been part of the Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents since 2022, initially contributing to the Department of Preservation. Her educational background comprises film, philosophy, and mathematics.

Opening presentation “Postcard from the future” by Ievgeniia Gubkina and Tatjana Kononenko
Nerijus Milerius (Vilnius University, Lithuania) Cities in War and Everyday Warscapes
Teisi Ligi (Tallinn University, Estonia) Concrete Across Time: An Exploration of Lévinasian Ethics in Poetic Documentary
Narius Kairys (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre, Art History and Theory Department) Film as a Testimony: The Cinematographic Representations of Mariupol
Andrius Gudauskas (Vilnius University, Lithuania) Cinematographical Time is Real
Elina Reitere (Kino Raksti, Latvia) The Decolonial Moment as a Factor of Relevance for the Reception of Dāvis Sīmanis’ Film D is for Division (“Mūris,” 2018)

11:00 - 12:30 | Panel VII. Film heritage revisited, chair: Lina Kaminskaite-Jančoriene (Lithuanian Academy of Music and Theatre)

Inga Pērkone (Latvian Academy of Culture) "The Digital Age: Rediscovering Latvian Film History"

This paper will describe the main phases of Latvian cinema and the films made during them in the context of their preservation and accessibility. Using the information on Latvian films available in literature, archives, museums, periodicals, and memoirs, the presentation will give an analytical review on what of Latvia's film heritage is accessible to researchers or the public. What are the numbers, modes, and genres of films made in Latvia in certain periods? How much of the films has been preserved, what are their technical formats; what are the characteristics of film preservation in different periods, etc.? For example, at one time, possibly in the 1960s, films from the silent period were copied into the archive with a soundtrack; new versions of films from the 1940s-1950s were made in later years without any mention of Stalin, possibly with changes already made to film negatives; in the 1990s, few film producers deposited their films into the archive for storage, so the film heritage of this period is under considerable threat, and so on. And, of course, perhaps the main questions are: 1) what happened to the films made during the first decades of the Latvian state and whether we still have any hope of recovering even a small part of the lost material; 2) whether and how we can compensate for the fact that most of the source material of feature films made during the Soviet occupation is in the Russian State Film Fund.

The author does not hope to answer these questions in the paper, nevertheless, it is very important to raise them again and again, and try to find solutions through the increasing opportunities offered by international cooperation and digital technologies.

 

Inga Pērkone, PhD, is a Professor and Principal Researcher at the Latvian Academy of Culture and the Head of the Riga Film Museum. She is the author of the books Afekti un atmiņas. Par sajūtām un Latvijas kino (Affects and Memories: On Sensations and Latvian Cinema, 2023);  Ekrāna skatuve. Par aktiermākslu Latvijas kino (Stage of the Screen: On Acting in Latvian Cinema, 2020), Latvijas pirmās filmas (First Latvian Films, 2016), Tu, lielā vakara saule! Esejas par modernismu Latvijas filmās (Essays on Modernism in Latvian Films, 2013), Es varu tikai mīlēt... Sievietes tēls Latvijas filmās (The Image of Woman in Latvian Films, 2008), Kino Latvijā: 1920-1940 (Cinema in Latvia: 1920-1940) and the co-author and co-editor-in-chief of the books Latvijas kinomāksla. Jaunie laiki. 1990 – 2020 (Latvian Cinema: Recent History, 1990 – 2020), Inscenējumu realitāte: Latvijas aktierkino vēsture (Reality of Fiction. History of Latvian Fiction Film, 2011).   

Sergei Kruk (Rīga Stradiņš University) "Feeling, Imaging, Reflecting, Informing: Semiotic Diversity of Soviet Latvia Newsreels"

Online access to the Latvian State Archive of Audiovisual Documents enables a detailed analysis of the newsreels produced in Soviet Latvia from 1940 to 1991. Large artistic staff was involved in the weekly production of the ten-minute-long documentaries featuring up to 10 stories. Different educational and ethnocultural backgrounds of cameramen and film directors resulted in stylistic diversity – from didactics to formalism through docudrama and poetic reflections. From the mid-1950s to mid-1970s the Riga Documentary Film Studio was a laboratory enabling experimentation with image, voice, ambient sound, and music. The end of experimentation was marked by a more intensive use of synchronous sound. The filmmakers lacked journalistic skills to gather, process, and present verbal information. As a consequence, hard news lost its visual appeal, while soft news was packed with creative shots and suggestive texts to the detriment of contextual information. Filmmaker Juris Podnieks was the only one able to produce visually informative and dynamic interviews. Applying C.S.Peirce’s semiotic model for ten classes of signs, this paper systematizes the audiovisual language of film directors in a diachronic retrospective.

 

Sergei Kruk is a professor at the Faculty of Social Sciences, Rīga Stradiņš University. His main research interests are semiotics of communication and in particular - visual communication. He has published books and articles on semiotics of outdoor sculpture, photography, and ballet. In the most recent publications Kruk has analysed Latvian photojournalism from 1950 to 2020.

Daira Āboliņa (University of Latvia) "In Search of Lost Time and Movies. Non-Retrievability of CTV Films as a Consequence of Colonialism"

The Riga State Film Studio existed until 1990 as a powerful film production studio of the Soviet period, with monopoly rights to film production in the territory of Latvia. From 1966 to 1989, the Riga Film Studio had two separate film clients: Goskino and Gosteleradio. My research focuses on the films commissioned by Gosteleradio for the Central Television (CTV), which differed from other films of the Riga Film Studio in several technical and artistic parameters, such as the screen size, the principles of the film’s narrative structure, casting, the original language of the film.

Films commissioned by television make up a third of all the films of the Riga Film Studio in the given period. They created a significant increase in the number of production units of the Riga Film Studio, allowing new directors to debut in the film industry, a positive on a broader scale, but had side effects of the creative process subject to a totalitarian regime, which were more pronounced in the CTV films than in the big screen productions. The records stored in The Latvian State Historical Archives allow this process to be traced. Precisely because of this specificity, this can be considered a separate collection of films, which should be studied as a phenomenon of its time, while being aware of both the ideological limitations and the wide audience in the union of 15 republics which these films reached outside of Latvia.

The objective of this paper is to discover the impact of colonialism on the cinema of Latvia during the period of Soviet occupation. Thirty years after the restoration of the independence of Latvia, the grandeur of the Soviet and post-Soviet era has irreversibly been replaced by the discourse of colonialism. Studies of films as a mirror image of colonialism in Latvia and the Baltic states have been relatively scarce. This research focus allows for the identification and definition of issues that will have to be solved for years to come. Films screened by CTV created the clichés of perception of the Soviet lifestyle. This affected both the audiences and the filmmakers as part of the larger process controlled by the totalitarian regime.

 

Daira Āboliņa (Daira Āboliņa-Ilješāne) holds an MA from the University of Latvia and has also graduated from the All-Union State Institute of Cinematography. She is currently a PhD student at the University of Latvia, Faculty of Social Sciences. She is a lecturer at the RISEBA University of Applied Sciences. She is the screenwriter for the documentary film series Archaeology of Film produced by Latvian Television. Her background also includes work as a film expert and serving on juries of international film festivals both in Latvia and abroad. She is a historian of Latvian cinema with a particular interest in the narrative structures, aesthetics, and language of 20th century cinema. Her research focuses on film production codes and censorship at the Riga Film Studio during the USSR period, the impact of colonialism on film, and Latvian cinema in the context of global cinema development.


12:30 - 13:00 |
 Coffee Break

13:00 - 14:00­ | Panel VIII. Collecting and translating various media forms, chair: Samantha Bodamer (University of Pittsburgh)

Jolė Stimbirytė (Lithuanian Central State Archive) "Amateur Films in Lithuania: History and People, Challenges and Discoveries"

 

Over the past few years, the film collection of the Lithuanian Central State Archive has been supplemented by a number of films created by Lithuanian amateur filmmakers. The movement originated in the 1940s, and during the Soviet era, amateur filmmakers were active in various cities of Lithuania. The amateur film festival has been held for 66 years.

This presentation will give a short review of the history of Lithuanian amateur films and the people who created them, and focus on the challenges of acquisition, preservation, and unexpected discoveries. Films created by Lithuanian amateur filmmakers have significant historical, social, and cultural value, and it is a field for future research and reuse by wider audiences.

 

Jolė Stimbirytė received a Master’s degree in Sociology from Vilnius University in 1999. From 1995 to 1999, she worked as an Archivist at the Sound and Video Documents Department at the Lithuanian Archive of Image and Sound (later – the Lithuanian Central State Archive). From 1999 to 2023, she was the Archive’s Head of the Audiovisual Documents Preservation Department. She has been the Head of the Film Department since 2023. She has also managed various national and international film projects (MIDAS, EFG, EUScreenXL, E-kinas, etc.).

Jolė Stimbirytė is the Chair of the Lithuanian Archivists Association as well as a Board member of the Baltic Audiovisual Archival Council.

Alexander Sheyn (RISEBA University), ​​Nikolai Margiev (independent scholar) "Translating Personal Media From Memory to History"

The modern man creates a lot of memories – he takes pictures, records on a dictaphone, shoots videos of himself and others. His life is documented in as much detail as any of the lives before the age of mobile devices. Being in an endless stream of memory, a person drowns in it - he lacks tools that would help see the coordinated system in the totality of disparate fragments and build a holistic picture of himself. Without reference to the past, present, and future, his memory gathers dust in the archives of cloud disks and smartphone memory as digital "garbage". The abundance of memory becomes a form of digital oblivion: a person turns into a barely discernible line of the present – a set of publications on social networks that he makes here and now. That digital oblivion marks both a problem and a possibility.

The author’s ongoing research project entitled EDIN is an IT system that works with personal memory: a video, audio, and text archive that has been collected by the author for ten years. It has several layers (genres): chronicle, analytical (interview), game (scenes), rehearsal (rehearsals with artists), research (expeditions to North Korea,  Kutaisi, New York). The archive is structured according to the event principle, which defines the meta-temporal structure of the project. The video corpus is more than 500 hours of original video. The system builds semantic connections between disparate memories, creating a personal map of time and space, and by paying attention to the significance of each part of his existence, a person gives his life multidimensionality and volume.

The theoretical framework of the research touches upon the works of Heidegger, Stiegler, and Hui to establish the deep connection between questions of poiesis and techne, and the relationship between the ontological and the technical. The research also involves cosmotechnics, thanatology, actor-network theory, and “new” ontologies. The research investigates the relationship between the subject and media through the context of a private archive, with the ultimate aim of answering the question: what forms of memory organisation can be applied to modern forms of media?

 

Alexander Sheyn since 1999, has made a dozen feature and documentary films, presented at more than 30 film festivals, with films released in 40 countries. Since 2012, has worked on the multi-disciplinary IT-based project EDIN: a website, a social network, a personal archive, and an editing program that allows to create semantic links inside the infinitely increasing amount of digital memory. In 2023, started practice-led PhD research at RISEBA (Media Art and Creative Technologies) entitled ‘Digital Memory Structures and Subjectivity as Contemporary Forms of Knowledge’.

Selected Filmography: Euphoria (2006, in competition at Venice Film Festival), Lacanic (2016, in main program of the Manifesta 11 in Zurich), Nazidanie (2017, premiere at Locarno Film Festival), VMayakovsky (2018), Atlas Rīgas Laiks (2022, a documentary series in collaboration with editors of Rīgas Laiks magazine).

 

Nikolai Margiev (France/ Georgia) was born in 1996 in Nizhny Novgorod. Curator and editor. Nikolai has graduated from St. Petersburg State University / Bard College program, with a focus on literary theory. In 2018 Nikolai has worked as a curator, together with director Alexander Sheyn and art historian Nikolai Molok, at the project Atlas VMayakovsky (State Tretyakov Gallery, 2017-2019). From January 2019 to May 2021, Nikolai has worked as a curator of artistic projects in Sergey Kuryokhin Contemporary Art Center, was curating exhibitions and festivals: Solutions and Answers, VIDEOFORMA VIII, Abstraction in Avantgarde; was a chief editor of numerous editions published by the Center. Since 2021 together with Alexander Sheyn works on the interdisciplinary digital project EDIN. Research and curatorial interests: experimental cinema, video essay, Sergey Eisenstein and Alexander Kluge adaptations of Marx’s Capital (Article Untapped Capital of Sergei Eisenstein in Kino and Kapital – Moscow, Izdatelstvo Instituta Gaidara; Smolny College, 2019), intellectual history of melancholy and critical theory.

14:00 - 14:30 | Concluding remarks

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