Head of Collections and Presentations
, Anne Frank House
, Europeana Foundation
Embracing new technology with Heritage in Motion 2021 winners: Anne Frank video diary
Heritage in Motion is a competition recognising innovation by the creators of films, games, apps and websites on themes related to Europe’s heritage. Today, Tom Brink from the Anne Frank House tells us about the ‘Anne Frank video diary’, winner of the ‘Film and Video’ category.
In autumn 2021, Europeana was proud to be part of the international jury for the annual and prestigious Heritage in Motion awards, run by Europa Nostra and the European Museum Academy. In this theme, we talk to the 2021 award winners and find out how the cultural heritage sector is using new digital technologies in their inspiring projects.
Today, Tom Brink, Head of Collections and Presentations at the Anne Frank House tells us about ‘Anne Frank video diary’, winner of the ‘Film and Video’ category.
Can you tell us a little bit about your winning project?
In search of a new way of telling Anne Frank’s life story to young people, Anne Frank House, in partnership with Every Media, developed the Anne Frank video diary. It is a YouTube series in 15 episodes based on the diary of Anne Frank.
The premise is: what if, on 12 June 1942, Anne Frank had got a video camera as a birthday present, instead of a diary?
In the Anne Frank video diary, Luna Cruz Perez plays Anne Frank, sharing her life in the Secret Annex, her thoughts and her feelings with the camera. All characters, locations, and events in the series are based on Anne Frank's diary letters.
The second part of the video diary, ‘After the Arrest’, follows Anne’s life story after the period in hiding. From an indeterminate time and place, Anne looks back on the events after the arrest – the last six months of her life in the concentration camps – talking about them in monologues.
What did using digital media/technology make possible for this project?
With regard to production, the use of a ‘vlogging camera’ created the dynamism and intimacy we wanted for this ‘diary-like’ production.
Using YouTube enabled us to distribute the series on a platform everybody in our target group (mainly 10-20 years old) knows and uses. Also, it made it possible to add captions in multiple languages and to geo-fence in a few countries where Anne’s diary is still in copyright.
The main marketing channel was Instagram, which is also a kind of ‘natural habitat’ for the target group.
Using these channels turned out to be very effective in terms of engagement and reach with more than 11 million views for the series.
How have your audiences reacted to this project?
We were afraid of backlash as the diary is kind of an ‘institution’ in its own right, and adapting it holds a certain risk. But we were very happy to see the 99% positive reactions and comments, both in the press and amongst the viewers.
We launched the project during the first lockdown in the Netherlands. It wasn't planned that way, but it made the project even more relatable for young people than it would have been in normal circumstances. Although there is of course a big difference between a lockdown and Anne’s situation hiding from persecution, we do encourage discussions amongst youngsters on this topic, which happen in the YouTube comments.
What have you learned about working with digital cultural heritage from this project?
We have learned that modern media like YouTube and Instagram can create new points of entry for us to communicate with audiences.
The series encouraged people to visit the Anne Frank House. Shortly after the release, in the summer of 2020 more (Dutch) families were visiting the museum, many of them because kids convinced their parents to visit Anne’s hiding place.
Further afield, we saw an unexpected popularity in certain countries like Brazil and India, and think that we could expand the reach further. We used subtitles but are thinking about dubbing the series in English for a broader reach.
What difference does winning an award like this make to your project/future work?
We were surprised to win this award, since the idea of a video diary seemed so obvious. Winning really strengthened our belief that looking for new, innovative ways to tell an ‘old’ story helps to engage new audiences. This is important from a heritage, societal and historical point of view.