FIAF's Periodicals Indexing Project: Celebrating the P.I.P.'s First 50 Years, 1971-2002

Editor / Lead Author: Rutger Penne

Hardback, 264p., ISBN 9780906973738

Released in September 2022

Price: 35.00€ ( VAT if applicable)

You can order it HERE.


Introduction to the book by Rutger Penne

In 1972, the think-tank Club of Rome published a thought-provoking report, ‘The Limits to Growth’, a chilling warning that the global economy could not assume infinite growth on a finite planet. That same year the International Federation of Film Archives launched a global, collaborative project of film periodical indexing promising unlimited growth potential. Now, 50 years later, our planet continues to face serious ongoing challenges, while the Periodicals Indexing Project (better known within the FIAF community as the P.I.P.) is thriving more than ever. Its main publication, the International Index to Film Periodicals, is an authoritative and much-appreciated tool for film studies.

FIAF’s Periodicals Indexing Project turns 50 in 2022. This milestone calls for a big celebration. Sadly, previous anniversaries of the project passed largely unnoticed. In 1982 the International Index to Film Periodicals was honoured with the BFI Special Award, but otherwise the 10th anniversary of the P.I.P. was not formally observed. The 25th anniversary in 1997 also went uncommemorated, as there was too much going on at the time concerning its survival and future. There were no celebrations either in 2002 for the 30th anniversary, although a two-page article appeared in the Journal of Film Preservation. But things started to change as the years went on. In September 2012 all the former P.I.P. Editors gathered in Brussels to celebrate the project’s 40th anniversary with the current P.I.P. staff. And that was not all: the Journal of Film Preservation published a special dossier about the P.I.P., which included interviews with the first two Editors of the project, Karen Jones and Michael Moulds. Happily, to mark the milestone 50th anniversary there would be more fanfare. FIAF commissioned a special celebratory book within the framework of the FIAF History Project. Plans were made to spotlight the book in September 2022 at a two-day celebration in Copenhagen, which would also feature an indexing workshop and a symposium organized in collaboration with the FIAF Cataloguing and Documentation Commission. The decision to hold this event at the Danish Film Institute was deliberate, since that’s where it all began, back in 1972.

As the current P.I.P. Editor and the main author of this book, I am proud to present here the results of a long-term work that originated three years ago, when the thought of a celebration book started to develop in my head. From the very beginning, I had the idea to use as a framework 50 Milestones, which would describe the defining key moments of the fascinating 50-year history of the P.I.P. The Milestone section, with its entries ordered chronologically, forms the backbone of this book. It is complemented by a section of Special Inserts focusing on specific topics. These have been (partially) written by people who were closely involved with the project at some point.

In the second part of this celebration book, we give the floor to the four P.I.P. Editors. The interviews with Karen Jones and Michael Moulds are actually reprints of conversations originally published in issue 86 of the Journal of Film Preservation (April 2012). These have been expanded with an e-mail interview with Frances Thorpe based on multiple e-mail exchanges between her and myself. (Our correspondence turned out to be well-timed. While this book was in preparation, we heard the sad news that Frances passed away in February 2022.) Being the P.I.P. Editor still in charge, I additionally decided to write down (some of) my own experiences in the form of a personal account.

We also invited a range of people to share their thoughts about the P.I.P. We received 50 testimonies (the total number is of course not a coincidence!). These include Heads of the FIAF Documentation Commission and the Cataloguing and Documentation Commission, P.I.P. staff members, P.I.P. Supporters, FIAF Honorary Members, P.I.P. contributors (both volunteer and freelance indexers), publishing partners, library heads, and film researchers. Together they form a rich, diverse collection of testimonies and reminiscences of individuals either closely involved with the project or expressing their appreciation of the P.I.P.’s work and publications.

I would like to thank Linda Dunn, Karen Jones, Ron Magliozzi, Eva Orbanz, and Catherine Surowiec for their enthusiasm to contribute Special Insert texts, and FIAF Secretary-General Michael Loebenstein and FIAF Senior Administrator Christophe Dupin for introducing this celebration book. Several of these people have also collaborated on the book in other capacities: Karen Jones and Ron Magliozzi acted as historical advisors, Christophe Dupin and Catherine Surowiec were my co-members of the editorial board, and Catherine Surowiec proofread and copy-edited all the texts. Special thanks also go to FIAF’s graphic designer Lara Denil, who besides taking care of the layout also designed an attractive logo for the 50th anniversary.

Above all, I would particularly like to express my gratitude to Karen Jones, also known as the ‘Mother of the P.I.P.’, for her invaluable input. Over the last three years (largely coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic) we exchanged numerous e-mails. Not only did she write three articles for the book, but she also provided me with a trove of extra documents, photos, and inside knowledge. Her personal archives and memories were truly a goldmine of additional information on the P.I.P. I hereby dedicate this P.I.P. 50th anniversary book to her.