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If you have a few dollars burning a hole in your back pocket, you could become a part of film preservation history by donating to a GoFundMe set up to digitize four important early works of Philippine cinema. The Philippine Studies department at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and DaangDokyu Documentary Festival based at the University of the Philippines are working together to raise £1670 (~$2,200), which will enable them to bring these cultural artefacts to a wider audience via digitisation. So far, they have raised £475 (~$627).

As well as digitizing the films for usage by SOAS and University of the Philippines students, meeting the fundraising target will allow the films to be screened at the DaangDokyu Documentary Festival, which takes place March 16–21 in Diliman, Quezon City. The festival celebrates 100 years of Philippine life, history, and culture as captured on film, and is headed up by filmmakers Jewel Maranan, Baby Ruth Villarama, Kara Magsanoc-Alikpala, and Monster Jimenez.

The four films that the organizers are hoping to digitiz (Fabrication Des Chapeaux De Manille, Industrie De L’abaca A L’ile De Cebu, Glimpses Of The Culion Leper Colony And Of Culion Life, and Manila Street Scene) are among the oldest examples of Philippine filmmaking but are currently only available on 35mm in London’s British Film Institute National Archive on a pay-per-minute basis. This makes viewing them somewhat difficult and expensive, particularly for those not based in the UK, meaning these vital insights into the history of Philippine filmmaking are all but inaccessible within their country of origin.

“No Filipino should have to be in a foreign country to view these rare instances of visual cultural memory,” said Dr. Cristina Martinez-Juan, a Philippine Studies research fellow at SOAS and one of the campaign’s organisers. “We need open access to these films if we are to create a more complete narrative of Philippine film history.” 

The team is already a third of the way to their target and has received backing from a bursary as well as a discount on costs from the British Film Institute due to the cultural significance of the films, but with a February 1 deadline, time is running out to secure the rest of the funding and bring the documentaries home to the Philippines. The team hopes that in securing these digital copies, they will be of great research value to SOAS and University of the Philippines students, and more long-term, they can look to restore and present them to wider audiences.

You can find out more about the DaangDokyu Documentary Festival.

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Hannah Strong

Hannah Strong is the Associate Editor at Little White Lies magazine and a freelance journalist writing about film and popular culture.