Japan: Situation of the film archives

“ …. On that day, six members were in the office area. Half walked back home and the rest stayed there overnight, as all trains stopped in Tokyo and we could not take our eyes away from Twitter or NHK from Ustream. But eventually all of us were able to go back home safely the next day. Inside of the office was not affected. We just had two tea cups (nice ones!) broken, which was a surprise because the shaking we had was something none of us have ever experienced before. Our „Kura“ is much stronger than we expected. Very fortunately we are OK, and here are some updates of film archives in Japan as of March 15th.

Two major film archives in Kanto area, National Museum of Modern Art/National Film Center in Tokyo and Kawasaki City Museum, are not affected, although due to planned outages and the disruption to train services they are closed or limiting opening times, which will be the case for a while. A lot of art/cultural related events are, and will be cancelled in Tokyo this month, which also applies to film screenings. One of our members who works part-time at Sagamihara Annex of NFC had to stay overnight there but she was OK, too.

Our greatest worry at the moment is the rep and the venue of Home Movie Day Sendai. HMD Hirosaki and HMD Misawa were affected but we made contact with both reps and venues, however we don’t know what’s going on in Sendai. We just pray for them every moment. Another concern is the nitrate film collection located in a remote area (Sagamihara Annex does not hold nitrate collection at all), which we are not in the position to mention in detail. We deeply, sincerely hope that the lesson of this disaster will lead to a policy change and relocation of Japanese nitrate treasures to a much safer place in a suitable way.

In the Tohoku area, we heard that YIDFF archive was not severely affected. YIDFF office is giving info through Twitter (yidff_8989) though they seem not to have totally returned to their everyday routine. We saw some photos/videos showing the horrific state of the library floor of Sendai Mediatheque, and their website is not accessible right now, but one of the SMT staff is Tweeting to report the present state (kai_sendai).

We are of course aware that saving lives and quickly reestablishing services in the Tohoku area is the top priority and each FPS member is trying to support this by saving on electricity, making contributions of money and blood as best we can. We have heard news of re-examination or freezing of nuclear power plant construction from Europe and SE Asia. We really hope this movement grows. And if your country does not depend on nuclear power yet, then please be active in encouraging the government to stay far away from it!

As the least FPS could do, we have set up an inquiry service (tel, fax, email, Twitter etc) on damaged AV materials on the 14th, with considerable help from Tokyo Ko-on ( http://www.koon.co.jp/english/HOME.html ) and Yoshioka Film Factory ( http://www.oldfilm-saver.com/english.htm ) in Kyoto, which are very capable film restoration/telecine houses. At the same time we are looking for other commercial labs to cooperate with us on this project.

We translated some text into Japanese, mostly written by Mick Newnam (NFSA) via AMIA in 2005, about how to deal with water-damaged films, and we are translating more text right now. We are also trying to organize info of over 75 16mm film collections (mainly educational, cultural films) stored in public libraries and educational institutions in the Tohoku and Kanto areas.“
Source: Film Perservation Society, 16.3.11

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