OUAGADOUGOU, MARCH 3 – UNESCO will start, in the context of its International Coalition of Artists for the General History of Africa, a partnership with the Film Foundation, chaired by Martin Scorsese, and the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI), a long-term project to help locate, restore and preserve films made on the African continent. The African Film Heritage Project (AFHP) will identify 50 films with historic, artistic and cultural significance, and will then undertake the process of restoration. UNESCO envisages inscribing the films on the Memory of the World Register.
Through the partnership, UNESCO will work with the Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, in association with its partner and FIAF member archive Cineteca di Bologna, for the investigation, location and restoration of an initial selection of 50 films as identified by FEPACI’s advisory board made up of archivists, scholars and filmmakers active across the African Continent. An exhaustive survey to locate the best existing film elements for each title will be conducted in African cinémathèques and film archives around the world.
“UNESCO is proud to work with The Film Foundation (…) and the Pan African Federation of Filmmakers (FEPACI) (…),” said Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General. “This partnership represents a unique opportunity to highlight the wealth of African artistic heritage and creativity, especially for young women and men. With the African Film Heritage Project (AFHP), we look forward to promoting cultural diversity through the expression of African filmmakers, and to facilitate access to African classics – in Africa and beyond – while fostering African creativity. This project resonates at the heart of UNESCO’s mandate for peace and echoes with the objectives of the Coalition of Artists to promote the General History of Africa.”
“There are so many films in need of restoration from all over the world. We created the World Cinema Project to ensure that the most vulnerable titles don’t disappear forever,” said Martin Scorsese. “Over the past 10 years the WCP has helped to restore films from Egypt, India, Cuba, the Philippines, Brazil, Armenia, Turkey, Senegal, and many other countries. Along the way, we’ve come to understand the urgent need to locate and preserve African films title by title in order to ensure that new generations of filmgoers—African filmgoers in particular—can actually see these works and appreciate them. FEPACI is dedicated to the cause of African Cinema, UNESCO has led the way in the protection and preservation of culture, and I’m pleased to be working in partnership with both organizations on this important and very special initiative.”
“Africa needs her own images, her own gaze testifying on her behalf, without the distorting prism of others, of the foreign gaze saddled by prejudice and schemes. We must bear witness to this cradle of humanity which has developed a rich and immense human, historical, cultural and spiritual patrimony,” stated Cheick Oumar Sissoko, FEPACI Secretary General. “From the beginning, African filmmakers have strived to celebrate this patrimony through the wonderful art of the cinema. Preserving this filmic heritage is both a necessity and an emergency. These images must be located, restored and shown to Africans and to the world in movie theaters and state-of-the-art cinémathèques. We pledge to work toward achieving this goal with our partners from The Film Foundation and UNESCO who have long dealt with heritage issues.”
From the beginning, African filmmakers have strived to celebrate this patrimony through the wonderful art of the cinema. Preserving this filmic heritage is both a necessity and an emergency. These images must be located, restored and shown to Africans and to the world in movie theaters and state-of-the-art cinémathèques. We pledge to work toward achieving this goal with our partners from The Film Foundation and UNESCO who have long dealt with heritage issues.”
A press conference was held on 2 March during the 2017 Pan African Film Festival of Ouagadougou (FESPACO) with representatives from The Film Foundation’s World Cinema Project, FEPACI, and UNESCO in attendance to further announce details of the project and partnership. (@alebal)