Themes from SEAPAVAA Workshop

BY ROD BUTLER

I’m sitting in La Fare, the hotel’s beach-side restaurant, watching an archival gems screening. The soundtrack of the films has to compete with the sounds of the waves, and the breeze occasionally ripples the screen — but I have to say, this is a beautiful spot for a cinema. We are being treated to a range of footage from around the Pacific, including Tahiti, New Zealand, Fiji and, of course, New Caledonia and Australia. The delegate from Fiji, Setaita Natai, who is also the SEAPAVAA (South East Asia Pacific Audio Visual Archives Association) Secretary General, has just seen footage from the New Zealand Film Archive that was shot in Fiji in the 1920s. She’s excited about the find and desperately wants a copy. It’s just one of the many unforeseen benefits that this gathering in Noumea has provided.

Danses traditionelles – a traditional welcome dance.

Earlier today I delivered my presentation on preservation planning. The session also included a presentation on content migration (Geoff MacKenzie, Silver and Ballard, NZ) and audiovisual advocacy (Chew Tee Pao, Asian Film Archive, Singapore) and the mix of issues seemed to really resonate with our audience. In the next session Adrian Wood (Inkulla Media, UK) made the point that archives often hold material that is significant or culturally relevant to other archives. Adrian challenged us to facilitate access to our collections in these instances and referred us to several statements made by the Co-ordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Association (CCAAA) that compel members to provide this kind of support. Adrian also impressed on us the role that users have to play in identifying significant collection content, and in drawing links between disparate material within an archive’s collection, and between the collections of different archives. Adrian commented on the excellent work that Australia and New Zealand were doing to protect the moral rights of indigenous people, but challenged us to work with other archives who may have similar material but who may operate under less culturally sensitive policies.

It was announced that the second SEAPAVAA Pacific Conference and Workshop would be held in Fiji in the first week of May 2012. It is likely that it will be held in conjunction with the International Federation of Television Archives (FIAT/IFTA). The Pacific Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives (PARBICA) has also indicated that they may be interested in collaborating for the event.

I’m signing off now because the highlight of the night is about to be screened. It’s a clip from the feature film They Call Her Cleopatra Wong (Bobby A Suarez, 1978), a camp spy-thriller about a female Interpol agent. It’s funny, ridiculous and brilliant. There is even talk of a remake! Now that is one film that I would definitely like to see … preferably in a beach-side restaurant in a tropical paradise.