Erasmus Mundus Joint Masters are prestigious international masters, jointly designed and delivered by a group of higher education institutions. They involve at least 3 institutions from at least 3 different countries, and multiple associated partners from the academic and non-academic world.
The FilmMemory programme is grounded on an original mobility scheme that takes the students on an educational and creative journey. The students of each cohort spend the first semester in Belgium (LUCA School of Arts, Brussels), the second in Portugal (LU Lusófona University, Lisbon), and the third in Ireland (IADT, Dublin). During these three semesters, the students all follow the same curriculum on the same location. There is also structural teaching mobility with BFM in Tallinn (Estonia), which means that BFM lecturers will teach one course unit - “Film Data Analytics and Management” - throughout these three semesters in the three different locations. This will happen in hybrid format: BFM lecturers will partially teach online and partially teach on campus in Belgium, Portugal and Ireland.
Finally, during the fourth and final semester, the students still follow the same curriculum and all work on their FilmMemory Project [graduation project]. This time, however, they are distributed over the four partner universities. The Academic Board of the FilmMemory programme decides in which country/students spend their fourth semester. This procedure must be finished by November 1 of the third semester, allowing for the planning of the final semester.
Regardless of the country/institute where they spend their fourth semester, all students follow the same curriculum and respect the same deadlines. The common schedule and evaluation system developed for the fourth semester ensures the harmonised education and the standardised and transparent evaluation and tutoring of the students.
In 2020, the Cannes Film Festival agreed for the first time to project films that were not delivered on traditional 35 mm film prints, but in digital format (DCP). Two years later, from 2022, only DCP films were accepted. Analogue film, printed on 35 mm, which had been the industry standard for over a century, was fully replaced by a digital alternative. To the casual observer this might appear to be a relatively minor technological issue, whereas in fact it is indicative of profound changes at the heart of the industry and of film culture more generally. That, arguably, the world's most renowned film festival has replaced analogue (tangible, physical) film with the digital (virtual) format points to a technological revolution that is having a radical impact on what audio-visual media are and how they are transmitted to future generations. It exemplifies a seismic shift that currently sees most cinemas exclusively screening films in digital format, using digital projectors. This inhibits the accessibility of many millions of older films that, since the late 19th century, have been printed and preserved on film stock only. Digitisation of film prints alone cannot solve this problem, given that the process is time-consuming, expensive and – crucially - unsustainable, as experience shows that one must preserve the original film reels even after digitisation.
Meanwhile, increasingly large audiences enjoy constant access to audio-visual materials via streaming services and content providers, viewable across a range of devices. While a small, highly specialised market aimed at cinephiles continues to exist for platforms such as DVD, the overall number of historical and arthouse releases by mainstream distributors has dramatically dropped, as viewers become more dependent on the constantly evolving catalogues of online streaming platforms. Streaming giants are creating a public perception that exhaustive audio-visual content is readily available, always and everywhere. While the business model of such services certainly offers major opportunities for the audio-visual industry, it also creates problems. The catalogues they offer appear extensive but in fact tend to be extremely limited in terms of geographical scope (mainly Anglophone-centric), while also focusing excessively on recent productions. Moreover, they are algorithmically driven platforms that can be seen as black boxes in terms of their curation of audio-visual material. Research shows that the film heritage that Europe has built up over a century is barely represented in the catalogues of mainstream services. The custodians of audio-visual heritage, therefore, need to rethink the ways in which they can utilise and disseminate their collections. In order to achieve these goals it will be necessary to thoroughly interrogate the current datafication of film cultures and heritage, the role that ‘platformisation’ plays in this process, as well as the power and impact of algorithms and overall standards that are used to detect, analyse, store, curate, and disseminate audio-visual material.
There is an urgent need for professionals trained to deal with all aspects of audio-visual heritage. What kind of professionals are required to meet the challenges posed by our dramatically changing media landscape? Professionals who can not only archive and restore films, but also valorise and disseminate those collections. Professionals who understand the problems raised by archiving and preserving physical objects, ephemeral materials and ‘found footage’, as well as digital archives. Professionals who have the digital skills to work with databases and software that create new possibilities for curating and exhibiting films, as well as for doing research on films and film cultures, including undertaking quantitative analyses on film data. Professionals who ask critical questions about audio-visual heritage and are familiar with academic and public debates around archives and film heritage, and who understand the ways in which cultural and social factors, related to class, nationality and gender, have impacted these areas- and continue to do so. Professionals who can not only handle archival materials, but who are enthusiastically prepared to tackle the multiple institutional and practical challenges to bringing film archives into the future. FilmMemory intends to train such professionals.
In this programme, “film” is understood - in its broad, expanded sense - to include audio-visual creations that are usually viewed on single screens, whether in cinemas, on television sets, or on computers and mobile devices. It is additionally understood to refer to moving image recordings including, but not limited to, feature-length fiction films, animation, documentary, non-fiction, broadcast material, and series.