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Cinemateca Brasileira

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


The Cinemateca Brasileira is the institution responsible for preserving Brazilian audiovisual production. In July 2021 it experienced a major fire.

Since 1940, it has been developing activities around the dissemination and restoration of its collection, with around 250 thousand rolls of films and more than one million documents related to cinema. It is located at Largo Senador Raul Cardoso, in São Paulo. The building use to be the Old Municipal Slaughterhouse of São Paulo from 1887 to 1927.

It has the largest collection of "moving image" in Latin America,  one of the largest institutions of its kind in the world. It preserves a large part of the national cinematographic content, and because of that it houses the greatest diffusion of Brazilian cinema, with more than two thousand rolls of films, which correspond to 30 thousand titles among the foreign works produced since 1895. Thus, the library collection consists of approximately 4,700 documents such as censorship certificates, invitations and also a huge collection with around 3,000 scripts and another 8,000 movie posters, of which 2.6 are related to national cinema.

In addition, it also has a large collection of documents including books, magazines, original scripts, photography and posters. Its database offers online access through the Cinemateca Brasileira website.


The Cinemateca Brasileira project was born when Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes, at the time a bachelor of philosophy from the University of São Paulo (USP), emigrated to Europe and visited the living museum of French cinema. The emigration was within an escape context, as occurred after Paulo Emilio escape of his arrest for having participated in the 1935's Communist Uprising. During his stay in France, the student worked directly at the Cinémathèque Française, and there he learned about the importance of audiovisual works' preservation.

Back in Brazil in 1940, he started his project to spread this cinematographic culture in the country by founding, together with colleagues from USP such as Décio de Almeida Prado and Antonio Candido de Mello e Souza, the first Film Club of São Paulo.  The Club proposed to study cinema through projections, conferences, debates and publications. However, the project struggled to grow. Created during the Estado Novo dictatorship period, under the government of Getúlio Vargas, the first São Paulo Film Club was closed by the Press and Propaganda Department (DIP), which forced him to operate clandestinely at the residence of Emílio Machado and Lourival Machado from 1941 onwards.

After several attempts to organize film clubs, five years later, in 1946, the creation of the second São Paulo Film Club was made official. Directed by Almeida Salles, Múcio Porphyrio Ferreira, Rubem Biáfora , Benedito Junqueira Duarte, João de Araujo Nabuco, Lourival Gomes and Tito Batini, the association brought back Paulo Emílio's idea and created the Cinemateca Brasileira. Paulo Emílio Salles' experience as a researcher at the Cinémathèque Française and his experience with Henri Langlois, director of the institution, are partially responsible for his commitment to the creation of the Cinemateca Brasileira. In September 1947, he affiliated the Club to the International Federation of Films Society - IFFS, which allowed him access to a small collection of films. However, the real construction of his film archive came in 1948, with the affiliation to the International Federation of Film Archives - FIAF.

In March 1949, the Club established an agreement with the then recently created Modern Art Museum of São Paulo (MAM), for the creation of the Film Library of the Museum of Modern Art of São Paulo. The aim was for strengthening the Brazilian cultural production through large exhibitions held in conjunction with other cultural institutions in São Paulo and generating spectators with critical capacity. The disbandment of the MAM in search of greater autonomy came in 1956, when the club became the Cinemateca Brasileira, a non-profit civil society with the intention of preserving the national and universal cinematographic heritage. In 1984, the Cinemateca was incorporated into the federal government as an department of the then Ministry of Education and Culture (MEC). On August 12, 2003, the Cinemateca Brasileira was incorporated into the Audiovisual Secretariat of the Culture Ministry.

The Cinemateca Brasileira was established in 1992 in the old municipal slaughterhouse, a work from the architect Alberto Kuhlmann. Its historic buildings were built in 1887 to receive the former slaughterhouse in the lowland of Humaitá (which existed since 1856)  and were listed by Condephaat - Council for the Defense of the Historical, Artistic, Archaeological and Touristic Heritage of the State of São Paulo, and restored by the entity. It uses the remaining buildings from the "historic core" of the former Slaughterhouse, which have been restored and adapted to its current needs, as a documentation center, support areas, restrooms, movie theaters and events. In addition to the old buildings, facilities were also built to house film restoration laboratories, warehouses, matrix archives and administrative areas.

Although, throughout its history, the Cinemateca has been incorporated by political departments, it has always been a difficulty for the founders obtaining resources to maintain it. Both public and private institutions exerted some resistance in financing the projects and providing capital. The patrons, Assis Chateaubriand and Francisco Matarazzo Sobrinho, saw no reason for there to be a “museum” of audiovisual elements. The public authorities often refused to finance this parallel distribution and preservation center, giving preference to the commercial film circuit.

Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes wrote about the few resources of the Cinemateca in a 1985 text written about the filmmaker Eisenstein:

The day before yesterday, January 23, the 60th anniversary of the birth of Sergei Mikhailovitch Eisenstein was celebrated in all cinematheques around the world. Since the beginning of last year, Cinemateca Brasileira will project for this occasion a retrospective of the complete work of the Russian filmmaker. However, the penury situation in which the Cinemateca finds itself forced the postponement of the project. This article is the latest in a series that was written in a derisory attempt at compensation.

Today the Cinemateca Brasileira has one of the largest cinematographic collections in Brazil. Emílio Salles also made it very clear the principle behind his cinematheque concept, as part of a comprehensive project aimed at public education and cultural policies in the country, highlighting its importance as a revolution in the educational field.


On 2 April 2016 the archive reported that a fire had destroyed 500 films.[1]

In August 2020 the British Film Institute reported that the archive was in poor condition.[2]

In May 2021 a writer for art magazine frieze speculated that the archive was about to burn down.[3]

On 29 July 2021 fire destroyed the archive.[4]

See also


  1. ^ Stochero, Tahiane; Reis, Vivian (3 February 2016). "Incêndio na Cinemateca destruiu cerca de 500 obras, diz coordenadora". São Paulo (in Portuguese). Grupo Globo.
  2. ^ BFI (4 August 2020). "Brazil's film archive is facing wipeout". British Film Institute.
  3. ^ Bittencourt, Ela (10 May 2021). "As Fires Consume Brazilian Cultural Heritage, Could Cinemateca Brasileira Be Next?". Frieze.
  4. ^ Ribeiro, Gustavo (29 July 2021). "Fire hits Brazilian cinematheque warehouse in São Paulo". The Brazilian Report.

External links

This page was last edited on 1 August 2021, at 13:45
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