Many people still remember the time when tickets for screenings at the Museum of Film Library were sold by resellers and the queues for tickets were measured in streets. The cinema at 11 Kosovska street screened over 1,000 cult films last year. Journalists, researchers, experts and lovers of the seventh art from all over the world often turn to our film library because the national film archives includes over 95,000 film copies from 134 cinematographies of the world. In the year when it celebrates the 100th anniversary of the Serbian feature film, the Yugoslav Film Library opens the reconstructed building at 1 Uzun Mirkova street in Belgrade. This institutions is unique in the world because it screens rare old (nitrate) films every June 6, on its birthday. This year, on the 62nd birthday, the reconstructed building, which will be opened upon the issuing of the operating permit, was presented to the public.
(Cinema hall in the reconstructed building of the Yugoslav Film Library)
- We plan to celebrate in October the 100th anniversary of the shooting of our first feature film Life and Work of Immortal Leader Karadjordje, which was directed by Cica-Ilija Stanojevic in 1911. Few years ago we finished the renovation of the Archives of the Film Library and the Museum, and we hope that the reconstructed building in Uzun Mirkova street will be opened for public very soon. It will host the head office of the Film Library, three cinema halls with state-of-the-art technical equipment for film screenings, a library with a reading room, an audio library, a video library, etc. Just like we predicted in 2007, the reconstruction of that building cost EUR 5 million. The funds were provided from the National Investment Plan and the European Investment Bank. What is left to be purchased is a cine-projector, and we also need to buy surveillance cameras – Radoslav Zelenovic, director of the Film Library, says at the beginning of an interview for eKapija.
The author of the look of the "new building" is Svetlost Teatar, led by main architect Rajko Maric, while architect Pavle Vesev designed the interior. Construction works were carried out by the company Gradina, while Arhi Pro equipped and furnished the building.
Renovation and reorganization of the facility in Uzun Mirkova street is not the only important job that this institution has done over the previous few years.
Who, where and how keeps the film treasury?
Due to lack of storage space for the film treasury, a new depot for the Archives of the Film Library was built in Kosutnjak in 2007, with the help of the French government. It is the most modern depot of the kind in this part of Europe.
The film fund of the Yugoslav Film Library is one of the most significant and most comprehensive film collections in Europe. It includes over 95,000 copies of the most various formats: nitrate, acetate, silent, sound, black-and-white, and technicolor films. The collection of foreign films, accounting for 80 percent of the whole fund of that library, includes all most valuable works from the world history of film.
- The Archives of the Film Library keeps 15,000 titles of nitrate films, which is the most significant film format, shot in the period between 1895 and 1952, and that makes us unique in the world – says the director of the Film Library.
Zelenovic points out that each part of the collection is preserved in a specific way. For example, technicolor negatives are kept at 0°C and in the air with 35 percent humidity, while black-and-white negatives are kept at 12-15°C and in the air with 50 percent humidity.
The Archives also keeps photos, slides, negatives, posters, poster negatives, documents, stage sketches, gramophone records, audio recordings of film music, etc. The Arhives` photo collection includes about 250,000 identified (and approximately the same number of unprocessed) photos from the films of domestic or foreign production, portraits of film workers and other film participants...
As Zelenovic explains, the Film Library also keeps a collection of technical items related to the film. The most previous exhibits in that collection are: Magical Lamp (1890), a camera of the Limier brothers (1896), the head of Edison`s Kinetoscope (1893), the first studio film camera Pate Frer (1903), the precursor of gramophone - polyphone (1860), Edison`s phonograph (1908), and many cameras, projectors and sound instruments.
According to Zelenovic, the job at the Film Library is not done yet, while one of the future tasks is the construction of additional storage depots.- There will be no storage facility big enough as long as new films are shot. About 20,000 film copies are now kept at a warehouse in the Port of Belgrade. We should have another 5 depots built, and their construction should commence next year - Zelenovic announces.
(queues for tickets)
In order for this invaluable film treasury to be available to broader audience and remain preserved for the future generations, the Yugoslav Film Library has, thanks to the funds provided by the European Development Agency, built and formed an up-to-date digitization center, which was opened in 2009.
The first film that was digitally restored and completely processed is Life and Work of Immortal Leader Karadjordje of 1911, and it is now available to the public.
The film library is browsed by journalists, researchers and all those who are for some reason interested in the seventh art, and many experts from all over the world turn to our institution.
- We find a new film from time to time. We have so far found 16 films that are the only copies in the world, and we did not even know that until foreign film libraries or experts asked us to provide them with the copies.
(Interior of the reconstructed building of the Yugoslav Film Library)
The Yugoslav Film Library employs 40 people, while Zelenovic says that another 100 people should be hired.
- It is not only our heritage, but also the world cultural heritage. It is an non-renewable resource that cannot be made again if lost.
The Archives of the Film Library is expected to be put under the protection as a world cultural heritage and should be included in the UNESCO Memory of the World list.S.O.