Films have the potential of expanding and questioning the viewer’s perception of the world. The appealing format makes it a prominent companion in the ﬁght to preserve endangered languages, as a ﬁlm may open the viewer’s eyes to the importance of the matter at hand; regardless of class or background, most audiences discuss a ﬁlm after watching it.
One could argue that an online film festival ‘just’ operates as a temporary archive. The notion of any ﬁlm festival is that it takes place for a limited amount of time, and public access to the content is temporary and ﬂeeting. That said, another conception of a festival is derived from the selection of alternative activities – and this is where a festival converts from ‘just’ being a temporary archive. In addition to ﬁlm screenings, the 639 festival will also oﬀer talks and interviews. These alternative activities are going to be stored on the website, with no time limit, available for public access and use for future research and educational goals.
The aim of the 639 festival is to establish an online space for endangered languages that can subsequently – and hopefully will live beyond the festival’s virtual setting.
The name ‘639’ developed on ISO 639, an international standard set by ISO that represents the world languages through shortcodes. The name allows the possibility of adding the associated language code to the overall logo and highlight which language is in focus. The first festival will be named 639:kal, since the ISO 639-3 code connected to Kalaallisut, and Tunumiit (West and East Greenlandic) is kal. Next year’s festival could, for example, be called 639:sma, which is the ISO 639-3 code for Sami, etc. By using numbers, the name opens the possibility to be read in multiple languages (using Arabic numbers), instead of being restricted to a specific word or pronunciation.