The Cinémathèque Française is a French film organization that holds one of the largest archives of film documents and film-related objects in the world. Based in Paris, the archive offers daily screenings of worldwide films.
The origin of the Cinematheque goes back to 1935, when Henri Langlois and Georges Franju, who for years had been recovering and saving old copies of films, created a film club called the Cercle du Cinéma “to show and publicize the works of the past”.
The following year, on September 2, 1936, with the moral and financial support of Paul-Auguste Harlé, was born the Cinémathèque française, whose mission was, under the direction of Henri Langlois, to preserve the films, to restore them, to to show and to give the new generations a film education. In addition to films, the Cinematheque began to collect everything related to cinema: cameras, posters, publications, costumes and even film sets.
On 26 October 1948 a screening room with 60 seats and the first museum of Henri Langlois film were inaugurated on three floors 7 avenue of Messina, in the 8 th arrondissement of Paris. This is where François Truffaut, Jean-Luc Godard, Jacques Rivette, Éric Rohmer and Suzanne Schiffman meet.
The 1 st December 1955, the Cinémathèque moved and settled in a new room (260 seats) at 29 rue d’Ulm, in the 5 th district: the Jules Ferry room combines moviegoers Parisian discovering, long before the era cinema on demand, the world film heritage thanks to Henri Langlois who projects his collection according to his moods, films like the American B series that did not pass there are projected in the Nickel Odeon by Bertrand Tavernier. On June 5, 1963, the Cinémathèque moved into the hall of thePalais de Chaillot thanks to the credits allocated by André Malraux, Minister of Culture, and becomes linked to the public authorities.
Under pressure from the Ministry of Finance, André Malraux, in February 1968, demanded changes in the management of the Cinémathèque française and returned Henri Langlois. A defense committee is constituted; French filmmakers (including Abel Gance, François Truffaut, Alain Resnais, Georges Franju, Jean-Luc Godard, Chris Marker, Jacques Rivette, Alexandre Astruc, Claude Chabrol, Pierre Kast, Claude Berri, Jacques Doniol-Valcroze, Jean Eustache,André Cayatte, Éric Rohmer, Jean Rouch, Joris Ivens, Robert Bresson, actors Jean-Pierre Léaud, Claude Jade, Françoise Rosay and Jean Marais) are mobilizing. Foreign filmmakers such as Charlie Chaplin and Stanley Kubrick lend their support. Demonstrations of protest are organized, and Henri Langlois is reinstated at the head of the Cinémathèque on April 22.
On June 14, 1972, the inauguration of the first big cinema museum, place du Trocadéro. On April 2, 1974, Henri Langlois received an Oscar of Honor, then a Caesar. He died on January 13, 1977.
In 1980, a screening room of the Cinémathèque française was inaugurated at the Pompidou Center. Costa-Gavras is named president of the Cinémathèque in 1981. From 1984 until 1996, Jack Lang, Minister of Culture, initiated the project, taken over by his successors, to install a great film institution in the Palais de Tokyo, near Trocadero. The Cinematheque is a time transferred to the Palais de Tokyo. The Femis is installed in 1988. Jean Saint-Geoursbecomes president of the cinematheque in 1991. Large retrospectives are organized, allowing film lovers to enjoy the work of a filmmaker in its entirety: Ingmar Bergman, Ernst Lubitsch, Fritz Lang, Robert Bresson. In addition, there are thematic programs such as the western.
On July 24, 1997, a fire set fire to the roof of the Palais de Chaillot. The works of the Museum of Cinema, evacuated in one night, are intact but the French Cinematheque must leave Chaillot. The projection room is closed for more than a year. On November 7 of the same year, the Salle des Grands Boulevards was inaugurated. In this last room, the Cinémathèque explores new cinematographic “territories”, with films “on the margin”, like the B series.
On 30 June 1998, having decided to abandon the redevelopment of the Palais de Tokyo, Catherine Trautmann, Minister of Culture, announced her decision to install the “House of Cinema” in the former American Center built in 1994 by Frank Gehry, at 51 rue de Bercy, in the 12 th district. In June 2000, Jean-Charles Tacchella was elected president of the Cinémathèque. On 29 October 2002, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Minister of Culture, announces that the Cinémathèque Française and theBibliothèque du film (BiFi) will be the two institutions that will cohabit, then merge, in the building of 51 rue de Bercy under the name “Cinémathèque française”. In 2003, Serge Toubiana presented his report All the Memory of the World and became managing director of the Cinémathèque in April.
From September 2003 to June 2007, producer and director Claude Berri was president of the Cinémathèque, succeeding Jean-Charles Tacchella. The film critic Serge Toubiana became director general of the cinematheque in May 2003, a position he held until December 2015. On February 28, 2005, the halls of the Palais de Chaillot and the Grands Boulevards were closed. and the new site of the Cinémathèque Française, at 51 rue de Bercy, opened to the public on 28 September.
Since 1 st January 2007, the French Cinematheque merged with BiFi. Since June 2007, Claude Berri being ill, she is chaired by Costa-Gavras. In January 2016, the critic Frédéric Bonnaud succeeded Serge Toubiana as general manager.
After numerous incidents — including multiple relocations from one small screening room to another through the 1950s and 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. A restaurant on the lower level is open to the public.
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.
Cinémathèque Française operates the Musée de la Cinémathèque, formerly known as Musée du Cinéma – Henri Langlois, in the new building.
President Director and Secretary
President: Costa-Gavras, Oscar-nominated director of Z, “State of Siege”, Berlin Golden Bear-winning director of Music Box and Cannes Golden Palm-winning director of Missing
Director: Serge Toubiana, former editor-in-chief of Les Cahiers du cinéma
General Secretary: Jean-Michel Arnold, the spiritual successor of Henri Langlois and consistently re-elected as General Secretary since 1981
Space dedicated to the most beautiful pieces of the collections of the Cinémathèque française, the Museum proposes to discover a unique heritage in the world covering the prehistory of cinema to the present day. Mythical costumes and accessories, luxurious models of magic lanterns, picture boxes and optical views of the 18th century, cameras and projectors, models or sets, posters, photographs, manuscripts and other archives form an exceptional ensemble, probably the oldest in the world, acquired by pioneers of the film collection and constantly enriched.
The prestigious collection of devices opens the course with pieces not found illustrating the birth of the cinematograph. Discs for Vitaphone, dark room “Royal Delineator” George III arms, automatons, Rotoreliefs Marcel Duchamp, filming and promotional documents or family portraits alongside scale models of Méliès or Pathé studios, dresses of Hollywood stars, drawings by Eisenstein or Expressionist decorators and other unusual objects, such as the Metropolis robot, the mummified head of Psychose or the Man Ray sea star:
In this set, worthy of a cabinet of curiosities, the visitor can experiment with the devices of the pre-cinema or start the workings of the decor of the Modern Times.
The 600 or so exhibits in the Museum represent a tiny sample of the collections of the Cinémathèque that are constantly growing rich. Regularly, rotations of works are made and new pieces presented to visitors.
Since it was created in 1936 by Henri Langlois, the Cinémathèque française has given as much importance to films as to everything related to them (archives, books, devices, costumes, models, etc.). Thanks to this visionary spirit, the institution has, over the years, assembled an impressive collection of films, archives and devices. By its originality, its singularity and its scale, this collection constitutes an inexhaustible resource for the study of the art and the cinematographic industry. Almost all countries are represented, from French, Italian and Soviet silent art to Hollywood classics. through experimental cinema and contemporary cinema. It is a unique collection, fragile, with extremely varied media and delicate preservation, which is regularly enriched with exceptional pieces.
40,000 old and modern films
870 advertising materials
490 trade magazines
30,000 archive files
25,000 magic lantern plates
2,300 objects and set elements
Within the Film Library and its icon library:
500 specialized journals;
30,000 archive files;
12,000 movies on DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS;
65,000 digitized photographs;
23,000 posters, digitized;
14,500 drawings, digitized;
870 folders of advertising material, digitized;
25,000 press reviews, digitized;
600 pieces of these collections are presented at the Museum of Cinema.
In celebration of the Centennial of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum and the City Center of Music and Drama in New York co-sponsored “Cinémathèque at the Metropolitan Museum.” The exhibition showed seventy films dating from the medium’s first seventy-five years on thirty-five consecutive evenings from July 29 to September 3, 1970. The films were selected by Henri Langlois for their significance and contributions to the history of filmmaking, including work from official film industries as well as current and early avant garde directors. The program was the most diverse film exhibition held in the United States to date, and was the Museum’s first major undertaking in film.
The Cinémathèque’s closing is noted in Truffaut’s Stolen Kisses. The Cinémathèque also appears in the Paul Auster novel The Book of Illusions and the Harvey Danger song “Private Helicopter.”
The Cinématèque and the events surrounding the dismissal of Henri Langlois in 1968 features heavily in Gilbert Adair’s Novel The Holy Innocents also known as The Dreamers and in its film adaptation by Bernardo Bertolucci.
The Cinematheque is also known for hosting exhibitions on famous filmmakers, by organizing screenings and lectures and by exposing the important elements of the filmmaker’s career. Films are also honored.
2005/2006: Renoir (on Auguste Renoir and his son Jean)
2006/2014: Metropolis of Fritz Lang
2007/2008: Sacha Guitry: an artist’s life
2008: Georges Méliès, magician of the cinema
2008/2009: Dennis Hopper and the new Hollywood
2009: Jacques Tati: two beats, three movements.
2010: Shoots: Paris, Berlin, Hollywood – 1910-1939: the photographers of plateau.
2011: Stanley Kubrick
2012: Tim Burton
2012/2013: The Children of Marcel Carné’s Paradise
2013: The enchanted world of Jacques Demy
2013/2014: Pasolini Roma
2014: The Imaginary Museum of Henri Langlois
2014/2015: François Truffaut
2015: Michelangelo Antonioni
2015/2016: Martin Scorsese
2016: Gus Van Sant
2016/2017: From Georges Méliès to 3D: the cinema machine
2017: Kids and Cie
2017: René Goscinny and the cinema
2017/2018: Chris Marker
2018: Sergio Leone
2018/2019: Fellini / Picasso