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Sports vs Film leads to an archival crisis

Posted at 8:15 AM on July 2, 2007 by Euan Kerr

An article in the Independent newspaper says the British Film Institute is in deep financial weeds, possibly because a whole chunk of lottery money, (the arts cashcow in Britain in recent years,) is heading towards paying for the London Olympics in 2012.

Why should this worry people on this side of the pond? Well not much, except for the way the BFI's problems threatens one of the best film archives in the world.

It's a huge collection of classic film and television programs, and there is concern it may be broken up, and maybe even lost.

The BFI leaders say they have a plan which includes a new National Film Theater, and home for the archive. More than a few people say they don't think those leaders have the wherewithal to get the job done.

In a world where the latest films are all that's important to may people, it's vital that someone takes care of the archives properly. Film and video are notoriously unstable media as the years pass, (have you ever heard of "vinegar syndrome?" If not, you should.) A great deal of our cinematic heritage both in the UK and in the US has already gone, and we need to be vigilant to make sure we don't lose any more.

Can you imagine being faced with the situation where this year's films are as good as it gets. Yikes!

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