The federal government published only this Friday (30), the day after the fire that affected the Cinemateca Brasileira warehouse in São Paulo, a public notice for the choice of a “private non-profit entity” to manage the organ for five years.
The place houses part of the institution’s collection, consisting of more than 100 years of history of the largest audiovisual collection in Latin America, in about 250 thousand rolls of films. According to the commander of the Fire Department, the intensity of the flames and the density of the smoke indicate the presence of highly flammable materials.
In July 2020, the Federal Public Ministry in São Paulo (MPF-SP) filed a lawsuit against the Union for abandoning the Cinemateca. The publication of the notice was a promise made by the Special Secretariat for Culture, of the Ministry of Tourism, to the MPF.
According to the text published in the Federal Official Gazette, the purpose of the call is to “choose a non-profit private legal entity whose activities are directed to culture, already qualified or able to qualify as a social organization to establish a partnership with the Secretariat Cultural Special of the Ministry of Tourism, upon the execution of a management contract, for the execution of activities for the custody, preservation, documentation and dissemination of the audiovisual collection of national production through the management, operation and maintenance of the Cinemateca Brasileira”.
Entities that apply for the management of the Cinematheque must present a plan for raising and generating revenue with 4 detailed topics:
– services performed by Cinemateca Brasileira, such as the safekeeping, restoration and conservation actions of third-party private collections deposited at the site;
– rental of Cinemateca Brasileira spaces for third-party events;
– partnerships with private and public entities, with or without the use of tax incentives;
– organization of events.
Disregard at the Cinematheque
The prosecution questioned the lack of a contract for the institution’s management and highlights problems such as the risk of fire, lack of surveillance, delays in water and electricity bills, and wages. Last August, the dismantling and weakening of the institution by the Bolsonaro government advanced, with the announcement of dismissals of the institution’s technical staff.
However, last May, the MPF-SP suspended the action against the Union after the federal government pledged to show the actions implemented for the preservation of heritage within 45 days, which has not yet occurred.
The care for the maintenance and preservation of the collection is carried out by a highly specialized workforce. In successive reports, the Brazil in fact it showed that, without a qualified technical body, all the national memory stored there was in serious danger of disappearing.
“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. Last year, a storm flooded the shed and part of the collection was again compromised.
“There is no contracted technical body, the collection remains unattended and there is no information about its conditions. For this reason, we launched an alert about the risks that run by the collection, equipment, databases and building of the institution”, says the letter addressed to the current Special Secretary for Culture, Mario Frias in April of this year.
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).
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