On 27 October 2022, UNESCO, together with Cultural Heritage Institutions around the world, gathered at UNESCO headquarters in Paris online virtually to celebrate the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage in tandem with the 30th Anniversary of the Memory of the World Programme. The theme for the 2022 World Day was “Your Window to the World,” which was conjoined with UNESCO’s 30th Anniversary Memory of the World theme of “Enlisting the documentary heritage to promote inclusive, just and peaceful societies.”

Anna Bohn, Gregory Lukow, and Chair, Monique Threatt, of IFLA’s Audiovisual and Multimedia Section discuss the importance of restoration, digitisation and long-term preservation of audiovisual heritage.

The World Day for Audiovisual Heritage commemorates the UNESCO Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Moving Images adopted on 27 October 1980 in Belgrade. The very first film added to the UNESCO Memory of The World Register in 2001 was the science fiction film Metropolis (Germany 1927).  In 2005, the first documentary films were inscribed in the Memory of the World Programme, among these were the films of the brothers Lumière (France) and the Audiovisual documents of the International antinuclear movement “Nevada-Semipalatinsk” (Kazakhstan).

The fragile audiovisual heritage is under threat as analogue film materials disintegrate. There is often a severe lack of resources for restoration, digitisation and long-term preservation of audiovisual heritage. The situation is also heightened and even more catastrophic in times of war: audiovisual heritage is threatened by irretrievable losses not only through direct shelling and bombardment. Losses can also happen by targeted destruction of infrastructure and power supply failures, through cyber attacks, looting and the fact that people who work for the protection of cultural property are injured, die or are forced to flee. International cooperation and support is crucial for safeguarding audiovisual heritage in a time of war.

CCAAA's 2022 World Day for Audiovisual Heritage Promotional Video from fiafnet on Vimeo.

The World Day for Audiovisual Heritage, celebrated each year on 27 October, is a key initiative for both UNESCO and the Coordinating Council of Audiovisual Archives Associations (CCAAA) to honour audiovisual preservation professionals and institutions that safeguard our heritage for future generations. IFLA is represented on the CCAAA through its Audiovisual and Multimedia Section, along with eight other international audiovisual archival associations. Around the world, audiovisual archives and libraries join together annually on October 27 to celebrate their work with events that not only highlight the vulnerability of these valuable materials, but also to celebrate the often unheralded work of the institutions that provide protection and preservation, ensuring their availability in the future.

Archives and libraries around the world have posted their events on the dedicated CCAAA website: Some institutions offer free access to streaming films that can be watched free of charge around the world, like restored gems from the Eye Filmmuseum Amsterdam (Netherlands) or short music films presented by ROFFEKE, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Film Festival (Kenya) or the hundreds of films available online and downloadable from the Library of Congress National Screening Room (USA).

The IFLA Audiovisual and Multimedia Section encourages cultural heritage institutions to post their events on this dedicated webpage of CCAAA and share the wealth of stories and content from around the world.