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Frontpage News 2015 Digital restoration of Czech film heritage

Photo credit: Czech National Film Archive

Digital restoration of Czech film heritage

On 30 March 2015, the Czech National Film Archive launched the biggest project of digitisation in the history of Czech film. Supported by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA Grants cultural heritage programme, ten films are to be restored.

Selected by two expert committees of the Ministry of Culture, the films are to be digitised, making them available in HD quality to safeguard them for the future. It is a meticulous process. Each negative needs to be cleaned and sanded, and damage repaired. Following this, each picture is digitised, allowing viewers a much enhanced experience of sound, image and colour.

One of the films to go digital is "Three Wishes for Cinderalla", a Czech/East German fairytale film from 1973. It is immensely popular in Norway at Christmas and in several other countries in Europe as well. It is currently stored in five heavy film reels stretching a total length of over two kilometers.

The Association of Czech Universities and Academy of Sciences “CESNET” and the National Library of Norway are partners of the project. The Norwegian National Library has a wealth of experience with digitisation, not only of audiovisual works but also of historical archives and cultural items. Three workshops have been planned for sharing experience on preservation of audiovisual heritage.

5_Dobry_vojak_Svejk Photo credit: Czech National Film Archive

"It is important to digitise these films for several reasons. Old film material degrades. To ensure film heritage there is no way round digitisation," said Lars Gaustad, Preservation Advisor at the Norwegian National Library.

The films will be distributed to cinema across the country and with some released on DVD and Blu-ray. The National Film Archive will also present the project at film festivals and organise lectures and discussions. Promotional materials will explain the social and cultural context of the time when the films were originally made and offer an insight into Czech film culture from years gone by.


Project website

Czech cultural heritage and contemporary arts programme