31.10.2018 - UNESCO Office in Jakarta

Cinema as documentary heritage in Asia and the Pacific

The Asia Pacific Cinema Documentary Heritage Conference

Films have been one of the more potent carriers that we have used to preserve our memories and tell our stories. They are a powerful audiovisual documentary heritage that has the ability to move us beyond our emotional and cognitive being. Films have tremendous potential in bringing about the rapprochement of different cultures.

Therefore, it was fitting that in conjunction with the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage (27 October), UNESCO and its partners the Center of New Cinema and the Film Development Council of the Philippines put a spotlight on films at the Asia Pacific Cinema Documentary Heritage Conference in Quezon City, the Philippines which ran from 26 to 28 October.

Film conservationists, researchers, directors, lecturers, and vintage film lovers from Asia and the Pacific region gathered at the first Memory of the World conference with a focus on film as audiovisual heritage. It took place alongside the 2018 edition of the QCinema International Film Festival. It also marked the 100th year anniversary of the Philippine Cinema.

“Cinema can truly change our understanding of other cultures and bring us closer,” said Dr. Aruna Vasudev, often called the “Mother of Asian cinema” in her inspirational message on the first day of the conference.

A series of events kicked off the conference including the launch of the book “Early Cinema Asia” by Professor Nick Deocampo from University of the Philippines, and a ceremony to formally inscribed three new items to the UNESCO/Memory of the World National Register of the Philippines. They included the Fernando Poe Jr. Archives, the President Elpidio Quirino Papers, and the Culion Leprosy Medical Library and Archives.

This was followed by two full days of discussions and presentations by experts from around the region on topics ranging from film conservation technique and evolution of film industries to how to better engage students of film history. The conference concluded with a special screening of a brilliantly restored film produced by the late Fernando Poe Jr. a prolific Filipino actor, director, and producer from the mid-1950s to early 2000s.

Additionally, UNESCO Jakarta Office also conducted a special workshop with the aim to help identify potential audiovisual heritage that is worthy of being nominated to the UNESCO Memory of the World Register. Currently, only five out of the 155 items from the region listed on the Register are audiovisual material.  

This conference is expected to help raise more awareness of film as precious yet fragile documentary heritage of humanity and to help identify more audiovisual heritage from the Asia and the Pacific that can be considered for Memory of the World Register.

The conference was made possible with the support of different partners including the Philippine National Commission for UNESCO, NETPAC, Asia Culture Center, and the Film Institute of the University of the Philippines.

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