A fire in the early evening of Thursday (29) hit the shed of the Cinemateca Brasileira and part of the largest collection of moving images in South America was consumed by the flames. The Fire Department received a call around 6 pm and sent 11 vehicles to the location.
“The possibility of self-combustion of cellulose nitrate films, and the consequent risk of fire, often receive more attention from the media and the public. The institution has faced four fires in its 74 years, the last in 2016, with the destruction of approximately 500 works. The risk of a new fire is real,” warned the institution’s workers in April this year.
The collection is made up of 250,000 rolls of films, some of which are made of cellulose nitrate, which can self-combust if refrigerated conditions are not maintained. This warning has been made by the institution’s workers since 2020, but no action was taken by the Department of Culture in the government of Jair Bolsonaro (no party).
“There is no contracted technical body, the collection remains unattended and there is no information about its conditions. For this reason, we are launching an alert about the risks that the institution’s collection, equipment, databases and construction run on”, says the letter addressed to the current Special Secretary for Culture, Mario Frias. There was no response.
Members of the SOS Cinemateca movement also attended the demonstration on Avenida Paulista last Saturday (24) to warn of the increasingly imminent risks of fire.
While the flames consume the collection, which contains, among other items, Glauber Rocha’s library, a large part of Embrafilme’s collection and the Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes collection, the special secretary of Culture, Mario Frias and André Porciuncula, number two in the secretariat, are in Italy for the Conference of Ministers of Culture of the G20, as well as the Minister of Tourism, Gilson Machado, to whom the secretariat is hierarchically linked, according to the column Panel from the newspaper Folha de São Paulo.
In a note sent to the press this Thursday night (29), the Special Secretariat for Culture says that it “deeply regrets and is closely following the fire that affects a warehouse at the Cinemateca Brasileira, in São Paulo (SP)”. The secretariat also states that “the entire air conditioning system in the space underwent maintenance about a month ago”.
“The Secretariat has already requested support from the Federal Police to investigate the causes of the fire and only after its full control by the Fire Department that operates at the site will it be able to determine the impact and the necessary actions for an eventual recovery of the collection and, also, of the space. Finally, the federal government, through the secretariat, reaffirms its commitment to space and the maintenance of its history,” says the text.
Edition: Leandro Melito