Exploration and processing of the media wien film archive holdings

Project Funding: City of Vienna MA 7 (via the Association for the History of the City of Vienna)
Project Duration: 2011–2017
Project Lead: Siegfried Mattl (LBIGG), until 25.04.2015 / Ingo Zechner (LBIGG)
Project Team: Christiana Perschon (LBIGG); Katrin Pilz (LBIGG); Michaela Scharf (LBIGG); Klaus Stefan (WStLA); Jakob Zenzmaier (LBIGG)
Project Partners: Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for History and Society (LBIGG); Association for the History of the City of Vienna; Municipal and Provincial Archives of Vienna (WStLA)

The tasks of the project were the technical and content-related evaluation of the holdings of the film collection of the City of Vienna as well as the elaboration of preservation and digitisation strategies, the description and contextualisation of the films and their online presentation. The collection, which is now housed in the Municipal and Provincial Archives of Vienna, comprises around 890 film documents from the last hundred years of the history of the City of Vienna. Commissioned films and self-documentations of the city and its municipal departments form the core of the holdings and make up its uniqueness. Compared to other major European cities, the film archive of media wien represents a unique collection for the visual documentation of urban development and city marketing.

The combination of utility films, documentaries and feature films in this collection, which is not known from any other film archive, forms the unique prerequisite for the systematic reconstruction of the relationship between the city, media and representation. The state of scientific processing of the film collection at the beginning of the project allowed only limited access for research purposes and artistic projects. This was addressed by processing the collection according to film and city historical and topographical criteria. The description of further historical contexts and the research of contextual material were entered into a database together with the analytical film descriptions. (The media wien film archive has been online since 15.3.2013) At the end of 2015, 322 films were available, at the beginning of October 2016, this number had already risen to 371. In addition, by the end of 2015, more than 300 geo-referenced landmarks (at the beginning of October 2016: 366) and over 500 persons (“actors”) (at the beginning of October 2016: 702) had been entered into the online database. The filter function set up on the website enables targeted searches for films, actors, themes, time periods and places as well as for companies in the city. Thus, beyond the interest of the general public, it also serves as a research platform for academics and artists, students, teachers and pupils.

The project portal mediawien-film.at conveys a new form of appropriation of and engagement with urban history and has met with a broad response. According to data traffic analysis by the website service “Google Analytics”, the site has been visited by 47,641 users since its online launch in March 2013, who made a total of 176,113 calls (as of 31 December 2015).

Project Portal
a. Image: Children’s playground Venediger Au (Kindergarten Venediger Au, 1954) © WStLA, Filmarchiv der media wien
b. Image: Screenshot of the online database mediawien-film.at