Back in 2016, the Notre Dame University-Louaize International Film Festival (NDUIFF), housed at NDU, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Ministry of Education and former Minister of Culture Raymond Oreiji to restore and digitize the entire Lebanese film archive in an initiative to conserve the nation’s film heritage by sustaining and persevering it for generations to come.
The restoration of the remaining film archives in Studio Baalbek and all the film archives stored at the ministry is well underway and taking place under the supervision of Sam Lahoud, Director of NDUIFF and Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Humanities (FH). Marwan Kassis, part-time faculty member at NDU FH, has installed the needed Labs at the University using his latest creation, a machine that securely restores film reels.
Lahoud explained: “this initiative started with the idea of creating a museum for the entire Lebanese film archive at NDU”.
Kassis, describing how the reels are carefully treated and restored to their former state said: “film restoration is a painstaking endeavor. It involves much careful observation of archival film and repair of any damage to maintain a film's authenticity and designation as a valued historical, social, and cultural artifact”.
Digitized films can never replace original historic material similarly to how the best photographic reproduction of a painting can never replace the exhibited gallery piece. It does, however, allow them to be shared with viewers on a wide range of platforms – in digitized cinemas, on DVD or Blu-ray, through VOD or on TV broadcasts, while respecting the ownership rights for all the films.
The general objective is to contribute to the conservation and promotion of the Lebanese heritage, culture, and visual history. This operation will provide new generations, researchers, and filmmakers with archives and will serve to make NDU a reference for the preservation of films in Lebanon and the Middle East. The exercise will also help raise awareness on the importance of preserving the visual history of Lebanon.