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By Robert A. Emmanuel
Co-founders of HaMa Films, Howard and Mitzi Allen, have partnered with a regional body striving to preserve Caribbean audio-visual and film heritage.
Alongside other regional film makers, the independent film producers travelled to Guadeloupe last week as part of the Archive Film Festival where discussions over the preservation of films were held.
Howard Allen spoke to Observer media about the value of joining forces with Interreg CINUCA Caribbean digital Cinematheque Heritage.
Allen explained that “the main objective is to establish an audio-visual library so that all the audio-visual content throughout the islands would be stored in one location”.
He continued, “If you are a history student or anyone studying Caribbean culture, there is no one place you can go and find that information.”
He noted that some content might be found overseas in places like England where the cost of accessing it for research might be high.
“Some of the information that we don’t have, other countries like the UK, France, would have in their archive but for us to get access to it, we would have to buy it for a considerable amount of money,” he said.
Allen gave an example of producing a documentary on Caribbean cricket which he claimed would incur a considerable cost to access footage.
He explained that as there is no legal framework for the preservation of these audio-visual records, many could be erased without repercussions.
According to Allen, without a repository for these records, many would eventually be lost.
“If it is not housed properly, especially if you are dealing with film and videotape, eventually they would deteriorate and you lose them,” he said.
Meanwhile, lead coordinator for Antigua’s Inventory Mission for Interreg Cinuca, Brenda Lee Browne, spoke to Observer about the local aspect of the project.
“I am working on the initial stage, which is finding the information, seeing where we are at, what we have, where is it being stored, and who owns it.
“Once I can collect all of that information, then they would look at: do they have to purchase it, has it been donated to the museum or the [national] archive, and what is its condition,” Browne explained.
She added that she has been in communication with at least 12 individuals and organisations about the archival project, and called on members of the public who have historical records relating to Antigua and Barbuda life and culture to get in touch.
She explained that images including speeches, photographs of figures like the late Prime Minister Vere Cornwall Bird, videos of historical sites like Betty’s Hope, and images that tell the story of the history of Antigua and Barbuda were some of what is being looked at for the library.
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