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Latin American Video Archive L.A.V.A Helping a small video collection to develop a preservation plan


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Latin American Video Archive L.A.V.A Helping a small video collection to develop a preservation plan. Paula Félix-Didier Intro. to MIAP Final Project Prof. Ann Harris and Howard Besser. The Latin American Video Archives (LAVA)

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Latin American Video Archive L.A.V.A Helping a small video collection to develop a preservation plan

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Latin American Video Archive L.A.V.A Helping a small video collection to develop a preservation plan

Paula Félix-Didier

Intro. to MIAP Final Project

Prof. Ann Harris and Howard Besser


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The Latin American Video Archives (LAVA)

is a non-profit organization dedicated to

the distribution and dissemination of Latin American and U.S. Latino video to educational institutions in the United States and Canada.


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The information we receive about our southern neighbors is almost exclusively gathered by U.S. journalists or scholars.

As a result, our ideas and opinions about Latin America are shaped by our own cultural, political and economic perspectives

  • Karen Ranucci


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Significance of L.A.V.A. collectionU.S access to Latin American audiovisual works

  • In terms of exportation, the U.S. is increasingly a difficult and hostile market

  • for foreign films.

  • Recent theatrical exhibition of Latin American films that received many international awards:

  • Mundo Grúa (Crane World, Argentina, Pablo Trapero, 1999)

  • Santitos (Alejandro Springall, Mexico1999)

  • La vida es silbar (Life Is to Whistle, Cuba, Fernando Pérez, 1998)

  • had disappointing results in the New York City theatres; none of these films were booked to play for longer than a week.


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  • Large-scale distribution in the U.S. is now a rare achievement.

  • In Variety's list of the 50 all-time top foreign films distributed in North America, only two

  • Latin American films make it:

  • Como agua para chocolate (Like

  • Water for Chocolate, Alfonso Arau, 1992) MEXICO (#3)

  • Central do Brasil (Central Station, Walter Salles, 1998) (#40). BRAZIL

  • Only five percent of Latin American films succeed in getting released in other countries, and this normally happens only when they have been awarded an

  • international prize


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L.A.V.A.’s HomeLAVA is located in the basement of Karen Ranucci´s home in Greenwich Village.


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LAVA houses more than 3000 thousand videotapes in a variety of formats.


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A preservation plan for L.A.V.A

  • Given the present and upcoming challenges, it would be beneficial andreasonable for them to think of a preservation plan in two stages:

  • 1- Some urgent things they can do right now at their present facilities.

  • 2-Other things they can plan in advance, regarding the fact that they have to move next year.


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Collection Highlights

  • The Cuban collection

  • The INCINE collection

  • The Video in the Villages collection

  • The Bolivian video-documentaries collection.

  • The only English subtitled version of Fernando Birri´s Los inundados (1959) and Tire Dié (1958).


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Risk assessment and prioritization scheme.

Improve environmental conditions:

Cataloging: consider IMAP template.

Start a new access number system.

Remove cardboard slipcovers.

Move the Masters tapes from besides the air conditioner and the window.

Separate working space from the collection shelves

Try not to eat or drink near the tapes.

Sample tape inspection and rewinding schedule.

Dub Betacam masters.

Stock on VCRs and VHS tapes.

New items: keep track of provenance. /. have a tape and documentation inspection routine

Make sure all tapes can be played back

Phase 1


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  • Phase 2:

  • Long-range preservation plan.

  • Natural disaster plan.

  • Insurance.

  • Climate controlled storage.

  • Regular tape inspection schedule.

  • Plan on start collecting DVDs and migrating the most valuable VHS to DVD or other digital format.

  • Digitizing plan for their Betacam Masters.

  • Start collecting digital masters.

  • Paper-based documentation preservation plan.


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  • It might be easy to underestimate the importance of a project like L.A.V.A.

  • They are a small archive, they hold no originals, their collection is mainly VHS, and they deal with a “low-profile” subject.

  • But their continuous work throughout the years has secured them a moderate but sound prestige.

  • L.A.V.A has had a persistent and pervasive influence within the community of scholars, journalists, teachers, filmmakers, producers and other audiovisual professionals interested in Latin American art, politics or culture