The warehouse of Latin America’s largest film gallery caught fire in Sao Paulo, Brazil. It is not yet clear how much damage Cinemateca Brasileira has caused.
The fire broke out in a building that holds about 2,000 pictures, old movie posters, antique projectors and documents about South American film history. Fifteen fire trucks and dozens of firefighters were called in to prevent the fire from spreading to other buildings.
Cinematoga staff recently warned that delayed maintenance could lead to a fire hazard: many older films were filmed in nitrate film, which would ignite spontaneously at high temperatures.
“This set is our audiovisual memory, but it has not been properly maintained for more than a year,” says the film research professor who came to see the fire. “The federal government is responsible for this.”
The lost tradition
Founded in 1940, Cinematka was frequently hit by a major fire. In 2016, for example, more than a thousand movie characters were lost. Last year, part of the collection was lost in the flood.
Brazil has largely lost important heritage due to fire in recent years. In 2018, the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, the country’s oldest science institution, was attacked. In the process, 20 million objects, such as dinosaur fossils and a 12,000-year-old human skeleton, were lost.
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