An Interview with Myriam Despujoulets of the AMERICAN FILM INSTITUTE
Posted on at
Myriam Despujoulets is a programmer and administrator of fellow affairs at the American Film Institute. She is also a programmer of Film Annex. Once a law student at the University of Bordeaux, Despujoulets’ experiences in the entertainment industry are countless. From the ancient corridors of the Louvre Museum to the snowy hills of Sundance, Despujoulets has seen a lot, and now she shares her AFI expertise with us.
“When The American Film Institute was created in 1967, one of its most important mandates was to initiate a coordinated effort to rescue original, unique, or best-surviving moving image materials and bring them into the nation's archives. No other institution was in a position to undertake this national-level effort, and the ongoing development of the AFI Collection has played a major role in transforming the preservation field.” – Myriam Despujoulets
F.A: Can you tell us a little about the history and the mission of the American Film Institute?
M.D: The AFI Conservatory is at the core of the American Film Institute, created in the late 60's.
In 1969, the Institute established the Center for Advanced Film Studies (CAFS), a unique conservatory devoted to the art of cinematic storytelling.
Our program at the AFI Conservatory has evolved and tremendously grown over the years. The AFI Conservatory's mission is to prepare its Fellows for professional film careers and connect them to the professional community through its programs and activities.
F.A: Can you describe your filmmaking program and tell us how it stands out from other film programs in the country?
M.D: Inspiring, supporting and guiding artists in six disciplines - Cinematography, Directing, Editing, Producing, Production Design and Screenwriting - the AFI Conservatory offers advanced hands-on creative experience within a 60-plus credit hour Master of Fine Arts degree program.
This intensive graduate program parallels the challenges and expectations of the contemporary film, television and digital media professions. Its fundamental distinctive features are: Professional Filmmakers as Faculty, Narrative Storytelling, Hands-On Creative Collaboration, and Access to Technology
F.A: Can you talk a little bit about your preservation process? For example, are there any specific factors that contribute to your selection of films you add to your collection/archive?
MD: The National Center for Film and Video Preservation at The American Film Institute was established in 1984 by the American Film Institute and the National Endowment for the Arts. Its mission is to:
* Serve as the center for coordinating American moving image preservation activities on a national scale.
* Research and publish the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, providing filmographies on all feature-length films produced in the U.S. on a decade-by-decade basis.
* Locate and acquire films and television programs for inclusion in the AFI Collection to be preserved at the Library of Congress and other archives.
* Create broader public awareness of preservation needs.
* Establish ongoing relationships between the public archives and the film and television industry.
The AFI Collection at the Library of Congress includes over 27,500 titles and consists primarily of theatrical features and shorts (1894-present), as well as substantial numbers of newsreels, documentaries, and television programs.
Major collections include: Hal Roach Studios Collection, Thomas Ince Collection, Columbia Pictures Collection, Paramount Collection, RKO Collection, Universal Collection, United Artists Collection of Warner Brothers releases (1920-50), and Black Film Collection.
Additional films are held by over a dozen other archives, particularly UCLA Film and Television Archive; MOMA, Department of Film; and International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House (all q.v.).
When The American Film Institute was created in 1967, one of its most important mandates was to initiate a coordinated effort to rescue original, unique, or best-surviving moving image materials and bring them into the nation's archives. No other institution was in a position to undertake this national-level effort, and the ongoing development of the AFI Collection has played a major role in transforming the preservation field.
Today, the AFI Collection has over 21,000 titles. By donating materials, such as feature films, shorts, newsreels, documentaries, etc. to the Library of Congress and other archives across the country, the AFI Collection has facilitated archival cooperation and fostered the concept of a "national collection."
F.A: What are some of the events you hold through out the year that film students or young filmmakers can benefit from?
M.D: AFI Fellows get the opportunity to access our film festival, AFI FEST, which takes place in Los Angeles every year in November.
Of course, AFI creates and produces several film events in Los Angeles, Dallas and Silver Spring, Maryland throughout the year, including the AFI at Arclight series, the Cinema's Legacy: How Great Filmmakers Inspire Great Filmmakers, AFI Dallas...etc
For a complete list of events/series:
http://www.afi.com and http://www.afi.com/onscreen/
F.A: What are your thoughts on the role of the new media in today’s world? Do you think this new medium can be used for the preservation of video? Moreover, can it help filmmakers promote and distribute their work?
Clearly, the role of the new media in today's world is very important and keeps increasing dramatically every year. It has become an amazing and inexpensive, if not free, way of distributing movies. There is no denying this, and some sites, such as FilmAnnex, Jaman (specialized in World Cinema) and Vodmania (French Cinema) have become revolutionary supports to the independent film community worldwide.
That being said, in my view, the big screen will always appear to be the most powerful medium for screening and sharing images, human experiences, filmmakers visions and dreams.
AFI's contribution to the world of digital content has been tremendous through its Digital Content Lab, which recently produced the DIGIFEST 2007.
AFI DigitFest 2007, produced in conjunction with AFI FEST, served as an ideal showcase and ground for the new media community. See details below:
For more information on Despujoulets, please visit http://www.filmannex.com/Myriam%20Despujoulets
Interview by Eren Gulfidan - http://www.filmannex.com/Eren%20Gulfidan