Raising awareness and digitalising the regional countries' audio-visual files is much needed to preserve the Balkans' common history.
By Linda Karadaku for Southeast European Times in Pristina -- 13/07/12
France's National Audio-visual Institute is leading the EU-sponsored project to assist local archives and broadcasters digitalise and store the Balkans' audio-visual heritage. [Reuters]
A new project dubbed "Balkan Memories" sponsored by the EU and co-funded by France's National Audio-Visual Institute, is expected to raise awareness and assist in digitalising, properly storing and managing the region's vast audio-video heritage.
"The word 'memory' is making reference to images and sounds that build the [region's] common history. Every country of this geographical area is included in the project, represented by their national film archives or radio-television," Delphine Wibaux, the project's manager, told SETimes.
The project will last 30 months and the opening conference was held in Zagreb last month.
Seminars on preservation and restoration, digitalisation and storage of audio-visual materials as well as practical training for collections' assessment and legal frameworks for use of images and sounds will be held in Tirana, Belgrade, Podgorica, Skopje and Sarejevo through July 2014.
"The objective is to share experience and best practices," Wibaux said, adding the project also aims to offer the opportunity for jointly promoting the region's heritage in the long-run.
She explained the project will target three levels of stakeholders -- decision-makers, heads of archives and professionals, both locally and regionally.
"The Balkans is not only an area of conflict; it is also the area of incredibly fruitful cultural interchanges and strong national identities living cheek-by-cheek," Sanja Ravlic, head of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, told SETimes.
"[I] have every reason to believe it will grow into one of the most important initiatives in the audio-visual field in the region," Ravlic added.
She explained regional countries already co-operate internationally, but this project offers a "unique opportunity for practitioners to pool their resources, exchange knowledge and know how."
Other experts agreed collective memory and culture are deeply rooted with the audio-visual memory, which can be lost if action is not taken to preserve it.
"This is a space of shared memories, knowledge and people. We have our boundaries and borders, but we have a long history together; it is obviously important," Petra Hofbauer of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre told SETimes.
"Preserving heritage in the Balkans is about preserving the specifics of the region. ... They represent part of the region's history," Abaz Hado, Albania's deputy minister of culture, told SETimes.
Preservation has not been a priority before because of lack of funds, equipment and professionals, according to Erjona Vyshka of the Albania state archive.
"Under these conditions, it was necessary to intervene and confront the danger of losing the countries' heritage," Vyshka said.
A particular benefit of the joint approach is that it will bridge existing ethnic and national differences.
"Ethnic differences and problems are less reflected in art and culture than in any other field because art and culture connect and bring people together," Vyshka said.