THE MBC INTERACTIVE ARCHIVE
IN THE AGE OF CORONAVIRUS
Due to the 2020 Coronavirus, our lives have been transformed into mostly home activities, as we wait for life to get back to normal. Therefore, I have decided to release the entire MBC Interactive Archive, free of charge, for home use for a limited time, until the home of the archive re-opens.
This Knight Arts Challenge Award winning project is a digital presentation of film history highlights, from the 1880s to today, illustrated by my lifetime collection of international film accessories (posters of all types, programs, pressbooks/kits, documents and other memorabilia and ephemera). It is a guide to film history in visual terms; a tour illustrated by everything that promotes and advertises films, rather than the films themselves. It is as much about film history as the history of design and advertising. One thing it does not include is “commemorative” items, produced well after a film’s release (with very few exceptions), or memorabilia from the making of a film, such as on set props. It is almost entirely a collection of “accessories” to promote a film or a series of films, either produced by studios, filmmakers, historians, periodical publishers, cinephiles, artists or theaters. The collection is based on “country of origin” collectibles as much as possible, (for example the Japanese galleries have mostly Japanese produced items), with exceptions since certain countries produced outstanding designs for films from other countries, or had long term traditions of film program series that covered almost every film released in the country for a certain period–Austria, Germany, Denmark, Spain and Japan, in particular.
As a work in progress, the project is still in the phase of uploading and presenting the collection. It is currently displaying history up to the 1960s, with the 1970s currently being prepared to debut in the fall of 2020, if all goes as scheduled. So when you search, for now you will find items that represent films that were produced up to 1969, with a few exceptions. Future phases will include the population of the text boxes, so for now you will see faux text taking the place of brief capsule comments that will further describe what you see, to be filled in by film experts from around the world. So that means this is currently, and will continue to be, a visual tour, with the images telling the story and the narrative being supplementary.
The MBC Interactive Archive was originally intended as a museum-style attraction to get people into the Miami Beach Cinematheque (now O Cinema South Beach). In the gallery of the venue, there is a large touch screen monitor to explore film history via the project, and approximately every six months I presented an “overview” of the decade, premiering the new section of the archive. An ongoing film retrospective complemented the decade that was released, as well as an exhibition of actual hard copy items from the archive. It will also eventually be accessible at film institutions around the world. During this downtime closure, however, I’m happy to make the entire project accessible for home use instead. And when the venue(s) re-open, I hope that it gives you another reason to visit, in anticipation of the next decades—the 1970s, and then the 1980s, 1990s, 2000s and 2010s. Ironically, the last decade of the project, for now, the 2010s, will debut with the end of the decade/beginning of the next being the Coronavirus shutdown. The 2020s release won’t come for another ten years.
You can search the archive galleries in three ways:
1) Search by REGION (This populates only the region you choose in the four areas of searching-by DIRECTOR, STAR, GENRE or MOVEMENT.
2) Search by DECADE (For now, up to the 1960s. This populates only the decade you choose)
3) Search by DIRECTOR/STAR/GENRE or MOVEMENT (This FULLY populates ALL galleries so you can see them all on one page under the four categories).
(I would recommend first searching by DIRECTOR/STAR/GENRE/MOVEMENT directly, to get an idea of what all there is in the archive.)
Eventually there will be a general search, for specific actors, directors, etc, since there is much crossover between galleries and decades. There will also be a translation option into several languages and a “legend” to describe what item abbreviations mean–for example “USp” = United States program. For now we are working hard to organize, scan, identify and place—and that has already included hundreds of thousands of scans. “Inside pages” of many of the program books, pressbooks and other items are still to come. In the meantime, an item such as a “flipbook” occasionally opens up if you see an arrow on the right-hand side of an image. There will eventually be many more of those, since this archive is also an historical resource as much as a visual tour. None of the original items are for sale.
Another future phase is the development of this “About This Collection” page, which will refer to specifics of collecting, including personal anecdotes throughout the period of collecting—from 1968 to today. For now you get this short introduction, and a photo of me at two years old, examining a photograph—an eventual lifelong passion.
You also get my most recent fortune reading, from my March 2020 pick-up visit to the neighborhood Chinese restaurant, in an effort to support local businesses at this crazy time.
I wish you all the best during this downtime. Stay safe and healthy and at home as much as you can. Enjoy the archive, and if you have any questions or comments, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would like to know your thoughts.
Founder and Director,
Miami Beach Film Society