Throw Film Away
The FIAF 70th Anniversary Manifesto
Motion picture film forms an indispensable
part of our cultural heritage and a unique record of our history
and our daily lives. Film archives, both public and private,
are the organizations responsible for acquiring, safeguarding,
documenting and making films available to current and future
generations for study and pleasure.
The International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF) and its
affiliates comprising more than 150 archives in over 77 countries
have rescued over two million films in the last seventy years.
However for some genres, geographical regions and periods
of film history the survival rate is known to be considerably
less than 10% of the titles produced.
On the occasion of its 70th anniversary, FIAF offers the world
a new slogan: “DON’T THROW FILM AWAY”.
If you are not sufficiently equipped to keep film yourself,
then FIAF and its members will gladly help you locate an archive
that is. Film is culturally irreplaceable, and can last a
long time, especially in expert hands.
While fully recognizing that moving image technology is currently
driven by the progress achieved in the digital field, the
members of FIAF are determined to continue to acquire
film and preserve it as film. This strategy is complementary
to the development of efficient methods for the preservation
of the digital-born heritage. FIAF affiliates urge all those
who make and look after films, whether they be professionals
or amateurs, and the government officials in all nations responsible
for safeguarding the world cinema heritage, to help pursue
The slogan “DON’T THROW FILM AWAY”
means that film must not be discarded, even though those who
hold it may think they have adequately secured the content
by transferring it onto a more stable film carrier or by scanning
it into the digital domain at a resolution which apparently
does not entail any significant loss of data. Film archives
and museums are committed to preserve film on film because:
• A film is either created under the direct supervision
of a filmmaker or is the record of an historical moment captured
by a cameraman. Both types are potentially important artifacts
and part of the world’s cultural heritage. Film is a
tangible and “human-eye readable” entity which
needs to be treated with great care, like other museum or historic
• Although film can be physically and chemically fragile,
it is a stable material that can survive for centuries,
as long as it is stored and cared for appropriately.
Its life expectancy has already proved much longer than moving
image carriers like videotape that were developed after film.
Digital information has value only if it can be interpreted,
and digital information carriers are also vulnerable to physical
andchemical deterioration while the hardware and software
needed for interpretation are liable to obsolescence.
• Film is currently the optimal archival storage medium
for moving images. It is one of the most standardized and
international products available and it remains a medium with
high resolution potential. The data it contains does not need
regular migration nor does its operating system require frequent
• The film elements held in archive vaults are the original
materials from which all copies are derived. One can determine
from them whether a copy is complete or not. The more digital
technology is developed, the easier it will be to change or
even arbitrarily alter content. Unjustified alteration or
unfair distortion, however, can always be detected by comparison
with the original film provided it has been properly stored.
Never throw film away, even
after you think something better comes along. No matter what
technologies emerge for moving images in the future, existing
film copies connect us to the achievements and certainties
of the past. FILM PRINTS WILL LAST - DON’T THROW
April 2008, Paris (revised July/September,
The FIAF 70th Anniversary Manifesto was
originally drafted as FIAF Appeal by Hisashi Okajima in 2007,
based on his inspiration first suggested in 2005 in his mission
statement for Executive Committee membership of FIAF. The
draft was thoroughly refined by David Francis, fully elaborated
and edited by Roger Smither, with invaluable advices from
Paolo Cherchi Usai, Robert Daudelin, Edith Kramer and Paul
Read, and with the consultation of the current EC members
of FIAF. Translation to French was done by Robert Daudelin,
and to Spanish by Christian Dimitriu.
The Manifesto was adopted in principle by the majority of
those attending the FIAF General Assembly in Paris, after
discussion thatincluded a number of reasonable suggestions
for improvements. As agreed in the proposal that was put to
the vote, these have been discussed by a team appointed by
the Executive Committee, which has produced this final text.
The team consisted of Paolo Cherchi Usai, Roger Smither, Hisashi
Okajima and Eva Orbanz. Contributions to the final editing
process were also received from Ivan Trujillo, Alexander Horwath
and Maria Bustamente.