Although we often invoke “Hollywood” when we talk about the movie industry, many of the world’s greatest films and much of the world’s film history comes from outside that Los Angeles district. A nod here goes to the Lumière Brothers, of course, two of the earliest filmmakers. But rousing applause should go to the European Film Gateway, which is now online, giving free and open access to much of Europe’s rich film history.

The collection includes about 400,000 digital videos, photos, film posters and text materials, a number that is expected to grow to over 600,000 items by the fall.

The European Film Gateway is an Internet portal and a central access point for the material, which up until now has been spread across numerous sites and different national platforms. According to Claudia Dillmann, director of the Deutsches Filminstitut, which co-ordinates the project. “Now the films and information about them are more accessible, not only to scholars, journalists and creatives, but also by a broader audience interested in film.”

Using the site, you can search for people, such as Marlene Dietrich, as well as for film titles and keywords. Doing so returns a list of related digital objects that are available in the various connected archives.

Some of this material is now available online for the first time. This includes magic lantern slide collections, early 20th century erotic films, movie posters from Denmark and a collection of early films from European directors like Rossellini, Antonioni and Comencini.

The European Film Gateway is a project of Europeana, Europe’s cultural heritage platform. Europeana has brought together Europe’s major cultural institutions – galleries, archives, libraries, museums – to create an Internet portal where this digital content be accessed. Thanks to Europeana’s use of linked data, the markup and metadata mean that the content is easily indexed and discoverable – across institutional and national boundaries.

Photo credits: Marlene Dietrich in “Martin Roumagnac” via