The Collegium Papers are the essays contributed to a printed volume by the members of each year’s “Collegium” of the Giornate del Cinema Muto (the Pordenone Silent Film Festival).  The criterion for the papers is that they could only have been written thanks to the experience of the festival – either from the films shown in the various historical retrospective, or from meetings with the leading historians, archivists, collectors and enthusiasts who recularly attend the festival.

A fascinating characteristic of the Collegium Papers – of which the 2006 collection is the seventh – is that each year’s anthology is quite different in character from the rest. The factors that condition this variety are obvious – a different group of people, establishing (or not establishing) different inter-relationships; different qualities of stimulation from the festival programme; the extent (or absence) of preliminary group discussion on content and approach. The 2004-5 edition mostly consists of cool, objective research: without exaggeration we asserted that the group of essays on Dziga Vertov instantly merit a place in the essential Vertov literature.

In contrast the majority of the 2006 essays are much more subjective and reflective – personal impressions of first encounters with the Giornate experience. This may give them a more ephemeral quality – but that in itself has its value in capturing the spirit and preoccupations of a particular historical moment. In the essays in the sections “Conservation” and “Presentation” there is a significant confluence of concerns. The Collegians, as new initiates in the silent film community, have sensed and absorbed the overwhelming anxieties that currently preoccupy archivists and everyone else concerned with film history and culture and with the arts in general: the opportunities and peril of the digital onrush; the ethics of culture in societies overtaken by monetarism. Their impressions and views may not be imbued with years of knowledge and experience, but they are often invigorating with their fresh, unprejudiced, original responses to problems that have become too familiar to the rest of us. Above all, they are concerned. Sacile has made its impression.

There are other, more specific reactions to the programme, ranging from Ramin Sadegh Khajani’s fascinating dissertation on one of the “outsider” films of the 2005 festival, whose exceptional interest might otherwise have been overlooked, to Özcan Süzer’s poetic, moving and revealing “Talking to a Ghost”. But we sincerely commend the whole collection – as a good read and a revelation of new minds at work on old concerns.

For more information about the Collegium, and how to apply for a place in this year’s edition, see here (the information given there has not been updated, but the conditions for application for the 2007 Collegium remain the same as for 2006).