Projektledare/Arkivarie Filmarkivet / Archival Film Collections
Which is the mission of your archive and what kind of content comes from your archives in the IMC platform?
The Swedish Film Institute was founded in 1963 by the Swedish state and the various professional bodies of the film industry. Its remit – to support the production of new films, the distribution and screening of worthwhile films, to preserve and promote Sweden's film heritage and to represent Swedish film at an international level.
The Archival Film Collections of the Swedish Film Institute is one of the oldest in the world, dating back to 1933 and the foundation of Svenska Filmsamfundet, and its mission is to collect, catalogue, preserve and give access to Swedish film heritage, defined as all films theatrically released in Sweden: Swedish and foreign, fiction and non-fiction, short and feature-length, animation, news-reels etc.
We contribute to IMC platform mainly with films from our own collections.
What do you expect from the project?
In 2011, the Swedish Film Institute and the National Library of Sweden launched a common portal: Filmarkivet.se to provide online access to part of collections of both institutions. The portal is totally open but it is mainly intended for Swedish audiences. It is important for the Swedish Film Institute (and one of its missions) to promote Swedish film heritage at a more global level. For the first time, the Swedish Film Institute takes part to such a project at a European level thanks to the thematic of city films or films on city, very present in the collections of the institution.
Which will be the improvements for your archive and in general for all the archives partners of the IMC project?
IMC is a perfect opportunity to make more specific research on our collections. We can enrich the content (for instance go into more depth regarding locations and places, improve some descriptions and complete some filmographic data) but also on a filmographic level, we want to take advantage of the project to find more information about smaller film companies based in Stockholm for instance.
In their day-to-day activities, archives treat important volumes of collections and don’t always have the opportunity to work on smaller corpus, confronting and comparing works and materials – if it’s not through their programming activities. A project as IMC allows working on a more specific corpus of films and therefore establish connections, recognize influences or trends and make the films dialogue between them. And this not only in specific collections but also on a European level. It may change the perception of city films and create unprecedented connections on a much broader level.
What do you expect from the users contribution in the IMC project?
It is nowadays common to find links or references on websites and blogs about films available on Filmarkivet.se. Therefore, we know that some films provoke interest and reactions and also that some internet users (more particularly from blogs) have very valuable information on the contents. Unfortunately, we are not always aware of this information. We hope that a project as IMC which goal is also to create a community will allow more interaction between internet users and the portal and may enrich significantly the knowledge and the contextualization of some contents.
What can be your starting point at the end of our project?
We hope that the project will allow to reach more international audience and researchers or other users who would be interested in the collections of the Swedish Film Institute.
Ingrid Stigsdotter, Researcher in Cinema Studies, Stockholm University
My research interests as a Film studies scholar can be described as circulating around issues of representation, reception and politics of identity. Prior to becoming involved in I-Media-Cities, my work on filmic representations of cities dealt with the relationship between national and regional identities. When I was invited to participate in the IMC application I was hoping that the project would make it possible to compare similar kinds of filmic city representations from different national contexts, and thus contribute to a discussion around similarities and contrasts in terms of representing various urban identities historically.
However, since the project started, I have realized that the number of film titles that can be included from the participating archives will be quite limited, and I therefore now see my research contribution more in terms of using my skills as a film researcher to help the Swedish Film Institute contextualize the Stockholm films included in the project from their collection, as well as reflecting on how the technical tools developed through IMC can become useful for researchers in my own discipline. This work will then feed into broader research on Stockholm on film, and on the relationship between film archives and researchers. My work on the material from the Swedish Film Institute will become available in the shape of new descriptive texts on the platform, whereas methodological and theoretical reflections have been presented at academic conferences and will be published in appropriate journals, since this is the expected output channel for Humanities scholars in Sweden today.
The question of what kind of research the project will allow that was not possible before is a tricky one. The focus group (“CoCreationSession”) with film researchers in Stockholm in February 2017 showed that the Swedish Film Institute’s current platform for access to digitized films (Filmarkivet.se), is found lacking in many respects - it seems geared towards the general public rather than to researchers, the search functions are considered poor and the presentation of metadata and contextualisation are deemed not suited to researchers’ needs. When it comes to more advanced technical functions, participants reported interest in things like automatic facial recognition, making it possible to identify from the image who was in the film (regardless of whether cataloguers had the knowledge or time to do this identification manually). Furthermore, they were enthusiastic about a digital platform linked all European film and film related archives – stressing the importance of being able to make cross-cultural/national searches, and they were convinced that new kinds of research tools for digital humanities would enable new kinds of film analyses in the future.
But as one of the participants commented, regarding the planned technical functionalities of IMC, “everything depends on how functional” the technology is. From my perspective, the main challenge for IMC is that most film researchers (and no doubt for researchers from many other disciplines) will look primarily at what content the platform gives them access to, and if they find that there are too many gaps (films they know would be relevant/exist in the collections are missing) they are unlikely to appreciate the sophisticated analytical tools, as they will not be able to apply the tools to their preferred materials. I know it is problematic to think of the platform as a pilot when we are working on a large-scale, expensive project and reviewers expect us to deliver sound results and a fully working product at the end, but in order to be credible and respected in the eyes of other researchers, I still think it is important to present the platform as a pilot or model that cannot live up to its full potential until the idea of connecting many more archives and resolving legal issues is achieved.