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“Open Memory Box”: An Online Archive with 415 Hours of Life in the GDR Captured on 8mm Films

Special Presentation to the Press on September 23, 11AM at the Canadian Embassy in Berlin
Screenshot Website OMB Screenshot Website OMB
  • OMB Flyer 1
  • Screenshot Website Deutschlandfunk OMB
  • OMB Flyer 2

Laurence McFalls's presenting the Open Memory Box at L'heure du monde, Radio Canada, on November 8, 2019:
"Des films de famille pour comprendre la RDA et la chute du mur de Berlin" @ICI

Media coverage of Laurence McFalls' presentation of the Open Memory Box: https://www.open-memory-box.de/

"Canadian professor looks to challenge clichés about East German life with home-video clips" @TheGlobeandMail https://www.theglobeandmail.com/world/article-canadian-professor-looks-to-challenge-cliches-about-east-german-life/

"Gegen die Gräben zwischen Ost und West" @Deutschlandfunk https://www.deutschlandfunk.de/privatfilme-zeigen-ddr-alltag-gegen-die-graeben-zwischen.691.de.html?dram:article_id=459397

"Wie Amateurfilme zur deutschen Erinnerung beitragen" @Deutschlandfunk Kultur https://www.deutschlandfunkkultur.de/ddr-online-archiv-open-memory-box-wie-amateurfilme-zur.1013.de.html?dram:article_id=459460

@ARD Audiothek https://www.ardaudiothek.de/fazit-kultur-vom-tage/ddr-online-archiv-open-memory-box-wie-amateurfilme-zur-deutschen-erinnerung-beitragen/67177942

"DDR-Alltag auf acht Millimetern" @ARD Tagesschau https://www.tagesschau.de/inland/open-memory-box-101.html

"415 Stunden DDR-Alltag auf Schmalfilm" @ZDF heute https://www.zdf.de/nachrichten/heute/open-memory-box-102.html

"DDR-Home-Videos im Internet" @WDR https://www1.wdr.de/mediathek/audio/wdr3/wdr3-kultur-am-mittag/audio-ddr-home-videos-im-internet-100.html

"Digitales Schmalfilm Archiv zum DDR-Alltag jetzt online abrufbar: Die Privataufnahmen von 149 Familien in der "Open Memory Box" entstanden zwischen 1947 und 1990" @RBB Kultur https://www.rbb-online.de/rbbkultur/kulturnachrichten/2019/09/Digitales-Schmalfilm-Archiv-zum-DDR-Alltag-jetzt-online-abrufbar.html

"Online-Archiv mit DDR-Filmaufnahmen gestartet" @MDR https://www.mdr.de/kultur/themen/open-memory-box-ddr-film-100.html

"Frank Bösch: Das Projekt „Open Memory Box“ zu DDR-Schmalfilmen ist online" @SWR2 https://www.swr.de/swr2/leben-und-gesellschaft/Das-Projekt-Open-Memory-Box-zu-DDR-Schmalfilmen-ist-online-Frank-Boesch,av-o1155035-100.html

"Online-Archiv zeigt die private Seite der DDR" @MärkischeAllgemeine https://www.maz-online.de/Nachrichten/Kultur/Online-Archiv-zeigt-die-private-Seite-der-DDR

"Von Kindergeburtstag bis Republikflucht: 415 Stunden DDR-Alltag sind Online" @Tagesspiegel https://www.tagesspiegel.de/kultur/von-kindergeburtstag-bis-republikflucht-415-stunden-ddr-alltag-sind-online/25045830.html

"30 Jahre Mauerfall - Digitales Heimkino: Die DDR in privaten Filmaufnahmen" #DeutschlandWelle https://www.dw.com/de/digitales-heimkino-die-ddr-in-privaten-filmaufnahmen/a-50553640

Press Conference and Open Memory Box World Premier
Monday, 23 September 2019, 11AM (Admission from 10:30)
Embassy of Canada | Leipziger Platz 17 | 10117 Berlin
RSVP: press@open-memory-box.de

How did people live, travel, celebrate in the GDR? The answer to these questions will be available online as of September 23 in the digital archive “Open Memory Box."
Stretching the limits of new media technologies, this interactive archive builds on 415 hours of private films made by 149 East German families between 1947 and 1990.
Initiated in 2013 by the Swedish-German film produce Alberto Herskovits and the Canadian professor of political science Laurence McFalls, the project has drawn on the skills of over thirty employees to collect, digitize, view and tag 2283 films contributed to the project. The result is a unique treasure chest for historians, artists, educators and the interested public.

The Open Memory Box will be presented and opened to the public at a press conference on September 23 at 11AM.
Canadian ambassador and former foreign minister Stéphane Dion along with the chairman of the board of the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED-Dictatorship and former foreign minister Markus Meckel will officially launch the www.open-memory-box.de.

On September 24 at 6PM a round table moderated by Siv Stippekohl (journalist, author) will take place at the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED-Dictatorship (Kronen Straße 5, Berlin-Mitte). For more information, please go to www.bundesstiftung-aufarbeitung.de/veranstaltungen-2019-6978.html?id=3543 or contact laurence.mcfalls@umontreal.ca

The Open Memory Box will also be presented at the film festival "moving history“ (Thalia Kino Potsdam) on September 26 at 4:30PM: www.moving-history.de

Open Memory Box has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED-Dictatorship, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the Centre canadien d’études allemandes et européennes, the Université de Montréal, the Leibniz Centre for Contemporary Historical Research in Potsdam, and the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.

Alberto Herskovits and Laurence McFalls can be reached at press@open-memory-box.de.
Tilman Günther from the Federal Foundation for the Reappraisal of the SED-Dictatorship can be reached at t.guenther@bundesstiftung-aufarbeitung.de

Production Agency
Maxwel Creative Bureau, Berlin
Max Welhöner, multimedia producer and software developer
Shezad Najmabadi, artist and art director

Facts & figures
• World’s largest professionally digitized collection of home movies from the GDR
• 415 hours of moving images from 1947 to 1990
• 149 contributing filmmakers from 102 cities and towns in the former GDR
• 2283 film rolls
• 32 million still images
• 320 TB of data
• 2700 keywords and 45,000 markers for online searches of the collection
• Normal 8 or Super 8 analog celluloid films
• Available in 2K/1080/720/480 resolution
• Custom-built web based back-end for tagging, color-correction and video sequence generation
• Custom-built multimedia front-end for end-user search and discovery on desktop and mobile
• Cloud storage for instant world-wide access to the entire collection
• 500,000 + EUR in public and private funding
• 6 years to date of ongoing work
• 30+ paid collaborators/employees

• Leadership in the emerging field of digital hermeneutics.
• Playful artistic access and contemporary video aesthetics expanding the logic of the traditional archive.
• Path-breaking custom-built digital infrastructure
• New interpretive possibilities thanks to careful curation coupled with programmed randomization.
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