The collection at risk : 330 hours of film records
The National Archive of Zimbabwe (NAZ) possesses a collection of film, more or less 320 hours, mainly produced by the Central African Film Unit (CAFU), which was active from 1948 – 1963. CAFU’s objective was to create educational and propaganda films to show colonial realities to indigenous and international public under a positive light. NAZ aims to keep this audiovisual heritage save and make it accessible for a regional, national and international public, mainly scholarship and researchers. The full archive comprises about 2700 films in a diversity of formats, in a rather good state, but in strong danger of degradation.
Project and partners
The goal of this project, submitted to FIAT/IFTA in October 2013, was to digitize the collection and make it accessible to the public. No less than seven partners were involved in the project, and this was essential for its success:
- NAZ provided the operational project management, logistics, film preparation and cleaning services and the expert staff needed for the digitisation and editorial works, in collaboration with Harare University. For NAZ the project as lead by Felizarda Kutsakatika Mudzaki and subsequently by Livingstone Muchefa.
- FIAT/IFTA provided its expertise and the financial management of the project and acted as a facilitator of contacts to future donors. From FIAT/IFTA’s side the coordination of the project has been in the hands of Theo Mäusli (SRG-SSR).
- The Swiss Embassy to the Republic of Zimbabwe in Harare facilitated local contacts to stakeholders and financed the start of the project.
- UNESCO’s Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA) co-financed the acquisition of the digitalisation structure (the film scanner, the file storage infrastructure and further IT equipment)
- The Swiss Commission for UNESCO co-financed the acquisition of the digitalisation structure (Scanner, Storage, IT).
- VARIO-Film SA provided technical consultancy and offered non-profit conditions for hiring and acquisition of technical infrastructure.
- The French Embassy to the Republic of Zimbabwe, in strong collaboration with INA has confirmed its future partnership to the project.
Perspective and impact
The film scanner and all additional equipment was delivered and furnished by the end of 2017. Actually about 250 hours of the Central African Film Unit collection is digitized. The digitization of the whole content will be completed in 2021. But the impact of the project went further than just the digitization of the films. NAZ has become a regional centre of competence with strong expertise in digitizing in film. They have signed collaboration plans with the Zimbabwan public television (ZBC) and institutional cultural and educational stakeholders in Zimbabwe and neighbouring countries keeping audiovisual heritage. NAZ is also in contact with African Union for future exchanges on this project.