During the Second World War, a film unit was established in the Department of Defence to produce and distribute training, information and propaganda films. After the War, the production unit was transferred to the Department of Education to produce films for government departments and was known as Film Services. The De Villiers investigation carried out in 1956 resulted in legislation establishing the National Film Board on 1 April 1964 (Act No. 73 of 1963). In terms of the Act, the National Film Board was to assist in the promotion of the film industry. Other functions were tracing, accessioning, restoration, preservation and making available of films which were made in or about South Africa, irrespective of the format.
To carry out these functions, a section was established within the National Film Board known as the South African Film Institute, which was loosely based on the British Film Institute. The name was later changed to the National Film Archives. On 31 December 1979 the activities of the National Film Board were terminated, with the exception of the National Film Archives. The latter was transferred to the Department of National Education. It became part of the National Archives in 1982. In 1985 its name was changed to National Film, Video and Sound Archives (NFVSA).
NFVSA attained full membership of the International Association of Sound Archives in 1989 and provisional membership of the Federation of International Film Archives in 1996. A new Legal Deposit Act (No. 54 of 1997) was passed and now makes provision for the mandatory deposit of audio-visual materials. Public and non-public material is also acquired according to the provisions of the National Archives and Records Service of South Africa Act (No. 43 of 1996 as amended). In many cases non-public material is acquired by means of voluntary donation as well.
Records in the following media acquired in terms of the acquisitions policy: audio tapes, audio cassettes, gramophone records, compact discs, films, video tapes and related materials. The most heavily consulted groups at present are the film and video collections. All the above-mentioned records are equally significant in terms of NFVSAâ€™s acquisitions policy.