Safeguarding Ukrainian Heritage of Amateur Films and Home Movies

Safeguarding Ukrainian Heritage of Amateur Films and Home Movies

facebook icon twitter icon email icon telegram icon link icon whatsapp icon


The Center for Urban History, in cooperation with the Netherlands Institute for Sound & Vision, the Lviv Regional Cultural and Recreational Center of the Ukrainian Society of the Deaf, and with the support of the Modern Endangered Archives Program, is implementing the project entitled "Safeguarding Ukrainian Heritage of Amateur Films and Home Movies." This project aims to develop and expand the activities of the Center's Urban Media Archive in archiving small-format films (8 mm and 16 mm), which are usually kept in private collections or belong to institutions that do not engage in cultural heritage preservation.

Amateur film archives and home movies are an important source of historical knowledge and a carrier of family and community memory. The practice of filming with amateur cameras gained considerable popularity in Ukraine in the second half of the twentieth century. On the one hand, the Soviet authorities actively supported amateur filmmakers' activities as a means of local propaganda. On the other hand, amateur filmmaking opened up opportunities for private creativity and documentation of one's personal life. Nowadays, these archives are under threat of being lost due to outdated technology, reproduction difficulty, and the high cost of digitization, as well as poor understanding of the value of this heritage. The war factor is no less critical, as it causes migration and abandonment of heritage and increases the threat of direct destruction. Therefore, we offer this project as an opportunity to digitize amateur film collections, ensure their long-term preservation, and make them accessible to authors, families, communities, researchers, and institutions.

The project consists of several stages. During the first stage, the team of the Center's Urban Media Archive works on digitizing the film archive of the People's Studio "Kamenyar," which had been operating in Lviv since the mid-1960s at the Lviv House of Culture of the Ukrainian Society of the Deaf under the management of Myroslav Maksymovych. The films made at this studio serve as a record of the life and artistic work of the deaf community in Lviv, for whom film and visual media became essential tools for self-expression and self-representation.

The second stage is an open call for participation in this project and acceptance of applications for free digitization in 8mm and 16mm formats. This opportunity is open to owners of family film archives, institutions, communities, and museums from all over Ukraine. Follow the link to learn more about the participation.

The digitized materials within the project will be published and become part of the digital collection of the Urban Media Archive at the Center for Urban History and the Library of the University of California, Los Angeles. After the digitization, the original archives and rights to the materials remain with their owners.

The Modern Endangered Archives Program

A grant program of UCLA (the University of California, Los Angeles) Library that focuses on the preservation of world cultural heritage collections that are at risk of loss due to environmental conditions, political and media instabilities, inappropriate or inadequate storage, climate change, or social conflict. The MEAP funds projects that document, digitize, and provide access to endangered 20th and 21st-century archival materials, including print, photographic, film, audio, ephemeral, and digital objects. The collections focus on history, society, culture, and politics, emphasizing social justice, human rights, cultural production, indigenous experiences, and scarcely documented communities.


Urban Media Archive of Center for Urban History

The archive aims to collect, store, study, provide access to, and popularize collections and files that are often neglected by the State Archives collections. Thematically, the archive’s materials are related to urban history in its various manifestations and perspectives.

The UMA is also a place for analyzing archival data and rethinking the role of archives in society in general. We explore and seek to develop new and ingenious ways of evaluating, contextualizing, displaying, and applying different archival media and documents. The project is not about developing tools to digitize archival files. We aspire to unite the community of archivists with historians and the public.


Cover Image: Still frame from the film "My Life is a Cinema", directed by M. Maksymovych, People's Studio "Kamenyar," 1970s // Urban Media Archive of the Center for Urban History