The Mexican film archive, Cineteca Nacional, opened its doors on January 17, 1974 with the screening of El Compadre Mendoza (1934).
It was built within the Churubusco Studios, even though it belonged to the Office of Cinematography dependant of the Ministry of the Interior. It had two screening rooms open to the public (Salon Rojo and Sala Fernando de Fuentes), and it also had an area for non permanent exhibitions, a specialized library and periodicals center, a bookstore, a restaurant and a vault for safekeeping films with the necessary temperature and humidity, as well as a workshop for the maintenance and repairing of films.
From the very beginning it carried out an intense publications program to help promote a cinematographic culture. It also had a project called Cine movil, consisting of the itinerant trip of relevant titles of world cinema throughout all of Mexico. An administrative reform ordered by the President of Mexico in 1976 created the General Direction of Radio, Television and Cinematography (RTC) and the Cineteca Nacional became part of it; a year earlier it had already been accepted by FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives) and it became a full member in 1977, year in which the first Muestra Internacional de Cine was organized. Next, in 1980, the first Foro Internacional de la Cineteca took place, being a showcase for documentaries and new creators as well as vanguard films. Unfortunately, on the afternoon of March 24th, 1982, a terrible fire interrupted its achievements and destroyed both its structure and the materials there in custody.
The new installations were inaugurated on the 27th of January, 1984, and thus the Plaza de los Compositores on Avenue México-Coyoacán 389, became the Cineteca Nacional. In its new place, it had four film theaters (each with a capacity for 550 spectators), and the traditional activities were resumed, such as the Muestra Internacional de Cine, the Foro Internacional de la Cineteca, the thematic cycles and the retrospectives.
The construction of the new vaults built with all the security, humidity and temperature controls established by FIAF for every film archive began in 1992. They were financed by Cineteca’s own resources and were inaugurated in 1994. Two years later, in 1996, a new administrative change took place, as Cineteca was separated from RTC and was integrated into the National Council for Culture and Arts (CONACULTA). At that point a national network was established for the exhibition of both the Muestra and the Foro; the Documentation and Information Center received more support; and new screening rooms were built.
Also in 1992, UNESCO (United Nations Education, Science and Culture Organization), established the program Memory of the World, devoted to the protection and promotion of the world’s documental patrimony through the promotion of the preservation and access of said documents (manuscripts, printed materials, films, photographs, records, digital documents, etc.). Established in 2001, the Mexican Committee of UNESCO’s Memory of the World (integrated by Mexico’s most important and largest public and private institutions holding printed documents, visual, musical, photographic, sound, electronic and digital materials), backed the Cineteca Nacional and Filmoteca de la UNAM’s proposal to nominate the original negative of Los Olvidados (Luis Buñuel, 1950) to the World Memory program registry, which was obtained in 2003.
As pertains its editorial program, together with the uninterrupted publication of its Monthly Program and the hand programs of the Muestra and Foro, several publications have been published, such as the Diccionario de directores del cine mexicano (a dictionary of over 400 Mexican film directors) by Perla Ciuk and the book Gabriel Figueroa 100 años (a compilation of photographs by this Mexican artist) , among others. Recently, the Cineteca has been a home to those who make our cinema, as it has been constantly visited by international artists such as Peter Greenaway, Liv Ullmann, David Cronenberg or Theo Angelopoulos, and Mexican creators such as the multi awarded Guillermo del Toro.
Last update: 30-01-2012