In 1996, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Pacific Film Archive Library and Film Study Center (now the BAMPFA Film Library and Study Center) initiated the CineFiles project to index and digitize materials from our documentation collection and make them freely available online, with permission from copyright holders.
Documents available on CineFiles include film reviews, interviews, popular and scholarly articles, publicity materials, program notes, book excerpts, pamphlets, filmmakers’ texts and correspondence, and many other rare archival documents dating from the early 1900s to the present. Grant support has enabled us to index and scan selected files representing various topics and facets of our holdings, including documents on the films of hundreds of major international directors, materials related to silent Soviet cinema, and BAMPFA’s unique collection of exhibitor manuals.
The CineFiles database now holds scans of about 60,000 documents. In-depth indexing of all documents is accessible online, and images of many items are freely available. Access to some document images is restricted and requires a free account as well as agreement to our terms and conditions.
Under the auspices of the CineFiles project, BAMPFA pioneered digital humanities scholarship throughout the 1990s and 2000s. With support from federal and private grants, we researched key issues involved in providing online access to film documentation. Special projects focused on how copyright impacts scholarly access to digitized texts, and on expanding digital research skills and content for K-12 students. In 2010 and 2011 we also participated in the NEA-funded Radical Light project at BAMPFA, a groundbreaking survey of experimental cinema in the San Francisco Bay Area.
In 2019, with technical support from UC Berkeley’s Research, Teaching, and Learning division, we began working on a new interface for CineFiles, which was last updated in 2009. This move presented an opportunity to adopt more sustainable, open-source software that will be easier to maintain and develop. Following the lead of the Phoebe Hearst Museum of Anthropology, we adopted Blacklight as a discovery layer on top of our CollectionSpace-powered data. Blacklight is used by libraries and museums around the world to provide intuitive, appealing online access to collections.
Take a look at our GitHub repo if you are interested in seeing the code or contributing!