FNE at Jihlava IDFF: Archival Materials in Spotlight as UNESCO Marks Day of Audiovisual Heritage

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My Unknown Soldier by Anna Kryvenko My Unknown Soldier by Anna Kryvenko

JIHLAVA: Increasingly detailed credits for archival materials in documentary films are getting a push from institutions such as the Czech National Film Archives, as detailed in a presentation on the topic at the Jihlava International Documentary Film Festival, running through 30 October 2018.

A case study of My Unknown Soldier, a Czech/Latvian/Slovak coproduction directed by Anna Kryvenko, made the point with a full seven minutes of credits running at the end of the 79-minute film.

“This really is an exception,” Czech National Film Archives director Michal Bregant told FNE. It also points to the future direction of crediting archival material. “This is the right way to pay respect to the makers of films,” Bregant added. “When you want to work seriously with archival footage, you should give appropriate credits.”

Kryvenko ran through an extensive list of international sources beginning with YouTube and weaving its way through Belgium, the USA, the UK and coproduction countries, Slovakia, where Wandal Production came onboard as a coproducer, and Latvia, with coproducer Baltic Pine Films.

Producer Michal Kracmer of Analog Vision noted that working with archives can be an expensive experience that relies on negotiating tactics. “We had to edit some scenes out because of costs,” he said. He added that it has become impossible to make a microbudget documentary film using extensive archival footage. My Unknown Soldier had a budget of 200,000 EUR, which was possible only through bringing on coproducers such as the Czech TV and the support of Eurimages. Kracmer also pointed out that there is not a clear demarcation in expenses between footage coming from the west versus east European territories.

He also noted that budgeting for films that use archival materials is a challenge for the producer. “I made the budget as large as possible,” to account for the shift in costs of archival footage (which becomes less expensive per minute when more footage is used. That allowed him to bring down the final budget, rather than having to raise it. “People are always happy when you come in under budget,” he concluded.

A large part of the film’s three-year production process was devoted to tracking down original sources in order to acquire the proper rights from the correct sources. In the case of the Czech National Archives, the cataloguing system made it easier to find that, whereas the archives in some other countries are less developed.