Throwing Light onto a collective heritage

light-onto-collective-heritage.jpgAn historical research project on non-fiction film in the Belgian Royal Film Archive (2000-2003)

Researcher(s) (CIMS)

Roel Vande Winkel

Researcher(s) (other)

Bruno Mestdagh

Supervisors (CIMS)

Daniel Biltereyst

Co-Supervisors (other)

Gabrielle Claes (Royal Film Archive)

Funded by

Scientific Research Fund (FWO-Vlaanderen - Max Wildiersfonds)


In recent times major film archives have been showing a greater awareness of non-fiction film material in their collections. Researchers and academics from various domains (including history, film and media studies, historical sociology, etc.) are increasingly more persuaded that visual history may not be disregarded. Television and the wider industry also seem to show more interest than ever into factual film material from the past... In Belgium, the central research fund has now also come to acknowledge the value of non-fiction film as an important part of the collective cultural heritage. In 1999 the Flemish department of the Belgian Fund for Scientic Research (FWO- Vlaanderen) decided to create a new budget line (the Max-Wildiersfonds). This fund, specifically instituted to finance research on Flemish archive collections, stimulated collaborative work by archives and academics. One of the biggest projects financed through this new budget line deals with non-fiction film related to Flemish history and society. It is promoted by the University of Ghent (through Daniël Biltereyst from the Department of Communication Studies) and the Royal Film Archive (RFA, through its curator Gabrielle Claes). It is financed through a four years fund (2000-2003), providing a working budget and two full-time researchers. The central aim of this project, named Throwing light onto a collective heritage [Licht op een collectief verleden], is to create the necessary conditions for research with non-fiction material in the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. The overall project has three main purposes or sections: an inventory of the RFA's non-fiction material on Flemish history and society; the development and editing of a guide on other collections containing non-fiction material; and finally concrete historical research on interesting film material.