New Director for ScreenSound – Paolo Cherchi Usai

Following recent controversy about the changing role of Australia’s Film and Sound Archive, ScreenSound, the archive’s new controlling body, the Australian Film Commission, has announced the appointment of a new Director. The appointment is significant for the radio industry, as the Archive holds a large collection of historical Australian radio recordings.

Internationally regarded Paolo Cherchi Usai will take up the role of Director of the National Screen and Sound Archive beginning in September, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Film and Radio archival body.

His appointment has been praised by many in the film sector, but a spokesperson for the AFC could not confirm whether he had any experience in radio or of archiving historical sound recordings.

AFC Chief Executive Kim Dalton describes Cherchi Usai as “one of the world’s most knowledgeable and leading authorities on audiovisual archiving, who has made a major contribution to international cinema culture as an archivist and curator, an academic, teacher, author and festival director.”

Dalton say he will “provide exceptional leadership with a focus on curatorial and archival practice… [and] deliver a powerful international focus and relationship for our film and sound industries.”

Paolo Cherchi Usai is currently Senior Curator of the Motion Picture Collection at George Eastman House, one of the major moving image collections in the United States.

His career began in Italy as a film critic and writer on film and arts. Cherchi Usai rapidly took a curatorial path which has included the Preservation Officer for the Royal Film Archive in Belgium, a founder and director for the Silent Film Festival of Pordenone in Italy, Adjunct Professor of Film at the University of Rochester through to his current Senior Curator role of the Motion Picture Department at George Eastman House since 1994.

He is currently Vice President of the International Federation of Film Archives and has conducted extensive academic research and has been published widely in books and papers on subjects ranging from the history of silent cinema, film preservation and most recently issues associated with audiovisual archiving in the digital age.

Cherchi Usai says he was attracted to the position because of the significance of the collection and the Archive’s international standing and reputation.