Preserving film heritage is an arduous task that needs participation and supports from many organizations, according to local movie director Nguyen Hoang Diep.

The Wild Field (1978) by renowned Vietnamese film director Vuong Hong Sen tells the story of a Viet Cong (Vietnamese communist) spy and his family in the Mekong delta. File Photo

It was one of the most important points put forth at a seminar on storage, preservation, digitalization, and restoration of films in the fourth industrial revolution, which has been recently organized by the Vietnam Film Institute.

Vietnam’s revolutionary movie industry has produced valuable motion pictures before and during wartime. However, the storage of films is decaying and most of the archived movies are damaged over time.

According to Dang Thi Kim Son, Head of Documentation Department, the Central Documentary and Science Film Studio, currently, the department has stored 11,856  roll films (35mm – 16mm), 3,085 videotapes (VHS, Umatic, Betacam SP, Betacam Digital), and 676 DVDs. The quality of almost all films has been degraded due to poor preservation.

Jout Pierre Verscheure, an expert from the Center for Audio and Visual Restoration of Mons (Belgium), who came to Vietnam to do a survey on the current situation of storing, preserving, and restoring the Vietnamese films and videotapes, told that the film stock of the Documentary and Scientific Film Studio is a world heritage that is in danger of becoming unusable.

He said if the preservation is not improved, these films that are more than 60 years old will be completely damaged in the future.

Vietnamese actress Le Van in the featute film When the Tenth Month Comes (1984) by Dang Nhat Minh. File Photo

Under the context, many specialists at the seminar shared the same opinion that motion images and cinema are a cultural heritage that need to be preserved. “The moving images shot on 35mm film are of the best quality but this is also the most fragile format,” director Diep told The Hanoi Times. “They are decaying faster than we thought. The physical death of the films will lead to the spiritual death of human talent and intellect” Diep added.

In the trend of digital cinema, Son said digital images have economical and environmental advantages over film while being of the same quality. Digital motion images are preferred by both filmmakers and audiences. But it is complicated to store a large quantity of digital movies for a long time.

Therefore, it is a huge work to preserve Vietnam’s cinema heritage, according to director Diep. She compared it to the run of the famous main character in the classic Hollywood film Forrest Gump. “Preserving film heritage is not a short distance race of a solo runner from the start to the finish line. It is a never-ending journey of a persistent runner that definitely needs help from others,” she told The Hanoi Times.

The work will take a lot of effort and be costly but it is the only way to preserve and store Vietnamese film archives – the invaluable cultural heritage of the country, according to experts.