victoria duckett:Thank you, Bryony, for agreeing to talk with me today. I thought we would begin with an explanation of what you do professionally. What do you do, what is your post, and what is your job?
bryony dixon:I'm one of the curators at the BFI National Archive, which is the United Kingdom's national collection of film. I'm one of a team of curators. There are curators that specialize in all different subjects and categories of the archive. We have, broadly speaking, fiction, nonfiction, and television. Then there are two “odd” curators: one deals with artists, film, video, and I deal with silent film, because it is a sort of category in and of itself, and there are slightly different issues, perhaps, with dealing with silent film in terms of how you might treat it. It also accounts for a good, solid block of cinema's history, film's history.
vd:Has there always been silent film curation? You're a curator, you're a programmer; do you restore?
bd:Yes, we do all that. Each of the curators does all aspects of the job, which used to be—in former days, before about 2005 [when the curatorial unit was formed]—done in a different way. It used to be a kind of linear method, so you'd have somebody acquiring the films, you'd have somebody doing technical work on the films, you'd have people doing things like cataloguing, and then you'd have someone at the end doing things like access, programming, taking it out and about in the world, doing educational work, and that kind of thing. What the reorganization into a curatorial model did was to give people specialist subjects. So now, if I am doing silent …