Discover the White Fathers' film collection

24 Jun 2022

Does the White Fathers’ film collection spark any interest for you? These missionary films depict the history of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi through the eyes of missionaries in the 1940-60s. Since 2018, together with KADOC (Documentation and Research Centre on Religion, Culture and Society from KU Leuven) and Cinematek, we’ve been committed to preserving, restoring and digitising these works. To discover the images for yourself, you can visit the ANGLES exhibition via hetarchief.be, or go to The Archive for Education once the summer is over.

What came first…

In 2018, employees and specialists from KADOC and Cinematek analysed, registered and restored the collection’s 750 film items. Then, in 2019, meemoo took the reins for digitising the content, opting to work together with British firm R3store Studios. And we’ve been storing the digital versions in our meemoo archive system since June 2020. As a final step, KADOC has focused on carefully adding metadata to contextualise the collection.

Did you know?

The White Fathers’ official name is ‘the Society of the Missionaries of Africa’? Quite a mouthful, hence the shorter version.

From exhibition to classroom

We are paying special attention to the accessibility component of the project, so the general public can look up and reuse this valuable heritage both now and in the future. The audiovisual content is not yet in the public domain because it’s still less than 70 years since the filmmakers passed away, but our colleagues at KADOC made the metadata available in 2022 – also accessible on our own platform. If you’re interested in a particular clip, you can request it using the form at hetarchief.be (link in Dutch).

This collection is worth its weight in gold from a teaching perspective. The educational department at KADOC is therefore working together with our seconded teacher, Jelle, to produce learning materials that are ready-made for the classroom. You’ll be able to find all the materials, in the necessary context, at The Archive for Education once the summer holidays are over.

The digital version of this unique historical resource is a useful gateway to discussing colonial and missionary audiovisual archives. As such, this film collection forms the starting point for artistic reflection on audiovisual archives in a colonial context. Michèle Magema, Daddy Tshikaya and Yves Sambu discussed the films as artists in residence at KADOC and created a series of new artworks in the spring of 2022, which you can see for yourself at the ANGLES exhibition from 17 June to 14 August. Digitisation and Acquisition Manager at meemoo, Brecht Declercq, explained the digitisation process at the exhibition opening.

Visit the exhibition

Image: still from the ANGLES-poster, KADOC - KULeuven

This project was made possible thanks to the Flemish Community and the Flemish Masterpieces Board. The collection was the only audiovisual heritage to be included in the Flemish List of Masterpieces.

If you’re a meemoo content partner with interesting initiatives for showcasing our digitised collections, then please let us know! Check out the film collection at Catalogus Pro.

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