Cinémathèque Française  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Cinémathèque Française hosts the largest archive of films, movie documents, and film-related objects in the world. Located in Paris, the Cinémathèque holds daily screenings of a variety of films from all over the world.

The collection's origin stems from the intensive efforts of Henri Langlois in the 1930s to collect and preserve films. Langlois had acquired one of the largest collections in the world by the beginning of World War Two, only to have it nearly wiped out by the German authorities in occupied France, who ordered the destruction of all films made prior to 1937. He and his friends smuggled huge numbers of documents and films to unoccupied France to protect them until the end of the war.

After the war, the French government provided a small screening room, staff and subsidy for the collection, which was first relocated to the Avenue de Messine. Significant French filmmakers of the 1940s and 1950s, including Robert Bresson, René Clement, Henri-Georges Clouzot, and Jacques Becker, frequented the screenings at the Cinémathèque. Directors of the New Wave (la Nouvelle Vague) school — Alain Resnais, Jacques Rivette, François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Claude Chabrol, Roger Vadim, Jacques Donial-Valcroze, and Pierre Kast — also received much of their film education by attending the collection's screenings.

After all sorts of incidents — multiple relocations from one small screening room to another through the 1950s and after, the "Langlois affair" in 1968 (his firing led to protests which eventually closed the Cinémathèque for a short period), a fire in its last premises — the Cinémathèque Française moved to 51, rue de Bercy in the 12th arrondissement of Paris and reopened its doors in a postmodern building designed by Frank Gehry, an American architect.

The Bibliothèque du Film, which was created in 1992 to show the history of cinema, its production, impact and artistic strength, has recently merged with the Cinémathèque Française.

References in popular culture

The Cinémathèque's closing is noted in Truffaut's Stolen Kisses and plays a major role in Bernardo Bertolucci's The Dreamers. It is also noted in Paul Auster's novel, The Book of Illusions.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Cinémathèque Française" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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