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The Film Archive of Andalusia

Hidden away in the centre of Cordoba, you’ll find a small family who while away the hours guarding one of the city’s best kept secrets. For just a few hours a day they open their doors and show it off, affecting the city as if by osmosis. At last cinema has found a place in which to thrive amongst people who love it.

By: Lakshmi I. Aguirre

Film archive and cinema (Filmoteca de Andalucía)
Birth: 1989
Location: Cordoba
Director: Pablo García Casado
Stands out for: a fantastic programme and their work restoring films
Did you know? the head office in Cordoba also runs their other theatre in Granada

A palatial building for watching cinema right at the heart of the Jewish quarter. In the 16th century the building itself was the main hospital of Córdoba [1], and in 1989 it opened up one of its patios to become the centre of operations for the Film Library of Andalusia (la Filmoteca de Andalucía).

Pablo García Casado was named director in 2008. “Everyone working here loves cinema, from the cleaner to me”, he explains. A poet who has published titles such as Las afueras, El mapa de América and Dinero, and have attained national recognition with various national awards, García Casado has taken on the responsibility of caring for this institution out of his love of cinema. When he talks about his job, it is not in vain that he speaks of his “third daughter”.

Together their team is working to create a cultural network throughout Andalusia (their other centre is in Granada [2]).”We don’t want to just focus on individual events or to just speculate in culture. You can spend a million Euros to bring Kim Basinger, or you can dedicate a million Euros to create film workshops of a high level that run throughout the entire year”, he clarifies. García Casado wants to turn the film archives into a constant refuge for film lovers, putting the world of cinema at their disposal and hopefully infect them with the kind of respect for cinema with which he is imbued. At the ripe age of seventeen, he witnessed the creation of the Filmoteca in his home town, and was able to see two of his obsessions, Paris, Texas by Win Wenders and Raging Bull by Martin Scorsese.

“When I first arrived in the job, I asked my team for normalization and continuity”, explains García Casado. “I want us to have a plural program that unites both classic and contemporary film, national and international cinema, and both classic and innovative formats”.
Currently films are shown from Monday to Saturday. On Wednesdays there is the Fórum Filmoteca, an open debate held after the screening. Saturdays are for current Spanish speaking films. They have also created Espacio 3, “a screening room showing films on a continuous loop and where we hope to bring audiovisual exhibitions”. They have also recently finished reforms to the main movie theatre, the Val del Omar. These changes and improvements have coincided with the arrival of the new director: “More than proud, I am grateful for the opportunity”.

An entire team of specialists work shoulder to shoulder on the upper floor of the building. Their job is not easy. Apart from projecting movies, they restore, recover and research films with the help of the FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives). “We are fighting against the clock”, explains García Casado. “35 mm films are disappearing and Blu-ray is achieving fantastic results. However I still think 35 mm gives the best results, even with its many hiccups and glitches”. While Blu-ray has roughly five times the detail of a DVD movie, it will never offer the same standard of quality of 35 mm films. That old, flavourful taste that can’t be replicated. “We projected Vertigo by Hitchcock on 35 mm, and when we left the theatre, all of us looked at each other as if to say “Tremendous!”.
The Filmoteca, which became part of the Centro Andaluz de la Imagen (Andalusian Centre of the Image) in May 2008, has many other possibilities on offer for professionals and those who are simply curious. The library is filled with books related to cinematography, including many published by the Filmoteca itself. In the viewing suite, run by María Jesús Cabrera (who anxiously awaits new equipment to replace the assortment of screens from the 1980s), visitors can watch any of the titles in their archives. The Legal Deposit for Andalusia is also housed in the walls of this building. “Every time someone produces something in Andalusia, they usually send us a copy. We have just about everything, from a copy of Solas [3] to football games on DVD given out by the newspaper Correo de Andalucía on Sundays”, jokes García Casado.
With more than 45 films screened each month, and 50 people attending each session, that makes over 27000 visitors a year who come to view a kind of cinema which these days is pretty hard to find on the commercial circuit. This is a cinema which brings back to life the aura of the old movie theatres that have all but disappeared, and which gives a space for Fritz Lang, Hitchcock, Buñuel, Fleischer, Rohmer, Azcona, Bergman, Ford and Wilder to be enjoyed on the big screen. And of course Paris, Texas.