Earlier this fall, IU Libraries and the BFC/A quietly launched the Josef Gugler African and Middle Eastern Film Collection on Image Collections Online (ICO). As of this posting, access-quality jpegs of approximately 785 posters and photographs (more than one-third of the visual items in the collection) are viewable at http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/images/splash.htm?scope=bfca/VAD9191.


Josef Gugler is a professor emeritus for the University of Connecticut, editor of Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Social Critique (2015) and Film in the Middle East and North Africa: Creative Dissidence (2011), and author of African Film: Re-Imagining a Continent (2004). Gugler donated his collection to the BFC/A in the summer of 2015 (see press release). The material in his collection features over 500 unique films by approximately 350 filmmakers from Africa and the Middle East. Formats include film posters, press books, Japanese chirashi flyers, lobby and storefront cards, handbills, photographs, slides, and audiovisual recordings. Some of the countries most frequently represented in the collection include Algeria, South Africa, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Iran, Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Mali, Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, and Turkey. Diasporic communities and exploitation films by Western filmmakers are also represented to a lesser degree. For a fuller description of the collection and a complete inventory, visit: http://purl.dlib.indiana.edu/iudl/findingaids/bfca/VAD5484.

Although digitized versions of many items similar to those in Gugler’s collection are available to discover through resources such such as IMDb, Google image search, and various auction sites, one of the strengths of ICO is that it allows researchers to filter their search results by various facets. For instance, users can filter search results by release date, director name, geographic subject (i.e., the country featured in the film), topic, or the language used on the promotional item. This makes it possible for researchers to review imagery in the collection related to films by Ousmane Sembène, for instance, or that represent Burkinabe. Headings such as “Motion pictures—United States” also make it possible to view promotional items for films produced in a specific country.


When possible, director names and topics have been selected from the Library of Congress’s Linked Data Service: Authorities and Vocabularies or the Thesaurus of Graphic Materials to ensure consistency across entries. In some cases, the authorized form may not be the most readily recognizable one (for example, the authorized entry for Youssef Chahine is “Shāhīn, Yūsuf”), but these thesauri provide a way to search on numerous variants of a term and often support searching in several scripts or languages.

Given the complexity of cataloging visual materials, particularly such a large number of promotional items covering a broad international corpus of work, we readily welcome feedback as to how we can improve the discoverability of the materials in this collection. Our staff is also more than happy to provide advice on search strategies.

The BFC/A staff will uploaded the remaining items in the Gugler collection over the upcoming months. Following the completion of this collection, future in-house digitization efforts will focus on materials from the Black Filmmakers Hall of Fame Archives followed by items in our other special collections.


~Ronda Sewald

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