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Vol. 20, no. 5
October/November 2017

 

Saving Celluloid (Page 2)

 

 

Heather Giugni

Stepping into the disarray
of the library construction site, it’s not easy to see that grand vision right away. That’s where Giugni’s directorial skill comes in. Her hands sweep across empty air, framing every room and detail of the library’s eleven thousand square feet, pointing out everything from where a hidden projector will pull down to where a patron will be able to get a cup of coffee.

 

The library will include a communal area for viewings, screenings and discussion; a sanitation room where all incoming reels will be quarantined for cleaning and cataloging; a digitizing room where films will be edited, transferred to digital and uploaded to the archive’s website; and a climate-controlled preservation room that will store some twelve thousand videotapes and three hundred film reels. “The future of this is huge,” says Giugni as we stand in the center of the library. “It’s a living, breathing movie museum for past as well as future films.”

 

It’s a living, breathing movie museum that almost didn’t happen. As we complete our tour of the library site, Giugni tells me that a physical library wasn’t initially in the plan for ‘Ulu‘ulu; in the Internet age her priority was strictly to digitize everything and put it all online for public viewing. But with the involvement of Chris Lee, the founder of UH’s Academy for Creative Media, ‘Ulu‘ulu was designated a special project under the UH system and given a home at the newest UH campus. Lee himself had long envisioned a digital archive for Hawai‘i similar to the Densho Digital Archive or Steven Spielberg’s USC Shoah Foundation Institute. Friends since the 1970s, Giugni and Lee make a good team in this quest—she, the pragmatist, champions the need for preservation while he, the academic and film producer, sees the creative potential for a historical archive.

 

“We live in an age where no one believes anything unless they can find it on the web and see it for themselves,” notes Lee. “These are the stories of Hawai‘i … of course, they’ll be a great resource for documentaries, but I’ve always believed that these pictures and words will inspire narrative filmmakers to create original stories based in our collective memory and community.”

 


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