Calling film preservation one of the highest priorities of the National Endowment for the Arts, Frank Hodsoll, chairman of the NEA, said this week that success in preserving "the moving image" will depend on the cooperation of the film and television industries.
Hodsoll addressed the opening session Monday of the 41st Congress of the International Federation of Film Archives, being held here at the Museum of Modern Art through Friday. One hundred delegates representing 65 film archives from around the world are attending the congress, which includes symposiums on preservation, seminars on computerization and screenings of rediscovered American slapstick comedies. The congress was last held in the United States in 1969.
Hodsoll suggested to the international audience that the American approach, or at least the goal of what he called "our national preservation coalition," would work best for preservation worldwide.
"We must rely upon a wide-ranging partnership between many sectors of society," he said, ". . . not only (on) government, but on cooperation among independent film and video producers, educators, scholars and individuals; among various and diverse archives spread across this country and among the commercial film and video industry.
"In particular, we must augment and expand the emerging partnership between archives and the commercial film and television industries," he continued. "Without access to industry vaults, preservation would grind to a halt; without the preservation work of the archives, the industry would have a harder time realizing the potentially major profits to be gained from restoring and distributing old films and video treasures in an age of booming demand for film, videocassettes and cable-TV programming.
"There is now no room for mutual distrust, which too often characterized these relationships in the past," he said.
Hodsoll also urged the archivists to accept the fact that television programming and independent video works also should be preserved.
The endowment last year joined forces with the American Film Institute to establish the National Center for Film and Video Preservation in Los Angeles, Hodsoll noted. He called the center "the first permanent independent agency for establishing, coordinating and implementing comprehensive moving-image preservation policies on a national level." The center's director, Robert Rosen, is attending the congress.
The endowment thus far has provided grants to the center totaling about $230,000, Hodsoll said, adding that additional funding will be announced May 22 in Los Angeles at the center's first full board meeting.