Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cathay Donates Digital Master Copies of Malay and Chinese Classic

Cathay Organisation is taking another giant step in preserving Singapore’s film and cinema heritage by donating the digital master copies of the company’s Malay and Chinese classic films to the Asian Film Archive. As a major player of Singapore’s Golden Age of cinema, this donation by the Cathay Organisation is a concerted effort to preserve a vital slice of Singapore’s film history spanning a twenty-year period of the 1950s to the 1970s. The 40 Malay films produced by Cathay-Keris Film Productions included in this donation feature works by legendary directors of their time such as Hussein Haniff (Hang Jebat) and B.N Rao (Laila Majnun) and starring stars like Latifah Omar, Siput Sarawak and M. Amin. The master copies of these films serve to complement the earlier donation in September 2007 of Cathay’s film print copies of its Malay classic films to the Asian Film Archive. Preservation of its films is not a new initiative by Cathay Organisation as Cathay has donated the film prints of its Chinese classic films to the Hong Kong Film Archive in 2004. By entrusting its digital master copies of over 120 Chinese classic film titles to the Asian Film Archive for long-term preservation, Cathay is further ensuring that these Chinese films such as Mambo Girl and Sister Hedy will be available for the enjoyment, appreciation, and research of future generations of film scholars and enthusiasts. The Asian Film Archive will oversee the archival preservation and cataloguing of these films. The digital masters of the films will be migrated in phases to a more commercially accessible format while the master copies will be preserved. The films will be stored in the secure and climate-controlled vaults of the National Archives of Singapore, archiving partner of the Asian Film Archive. The Asian Film Archive and Cathay Organisation have a variety of plans for this collection of films. For the general public, access to the films will be made available in stages via the Asian Film Archive’s Reference Collection at the library@esplanade. On a wider scale, there are plans to organize an academic conference for film and cultural studies scholars to discuss and analyze the place of these films in the wider film and historical context. Additionally, a publication on the Malay classic films featuring research papers, interviews, and other historical nuggets on the films is in the pipeline. In conjunction with these ideas, a traveling exhibition about the films will be curated, which
could potentially travel to both local and regional educational and film related institutions. Scholars and members of academia interested in participating and contributing to the conference and book publication can contact the Asian Film Archive.

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