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Intercom: Revista Brasileira de Ciências da Comunicação

Print version ISSN 1809-5844On-line version ISSN 1980-3508

Intercom, Rev. Bras. Ciênc. Comun. vol.43 no.1 São Paulo Jan./Apr. 2020  Epub Apr 27, 2020 


Preservation of Film Archives in Distrito Federal

Angélica Gasparotto de Oliveira1

1(Università di Bologna, Dipartimento delle Arti Visive, Performative e Mediali, Dottorato in Arti Visive, Performative, Mediali. Bologna, Itália).


Some reports about the loss of filmic collections of pioneers who filmed the construction of Brasilia have shown that there is no knowledge about the places where these productions are stored and preserved in DF. For this reason, this article presents the results obtained in a master’s degree research that aimed to describe how and where the preservation of filmic collections is held in DF, not only of the pioneers but also of the local moviemakers. The methodological strategies were conducting interviews and applying questionnaires in institutions that house movies, memorabilia and Film Studios in the Distrito Federal. The research results show that currently, in DF, the institutions that store film collections do not add the necessary characteristics to preserve such collections. It is strongly noted deficiencies in human resources and in physical facilities that store the collections. The conclusion is that, despite the capital having a very expressive filmmaking, most of the institutions that house collections of films related to the city do not preserve them properly.

Keywords Cinematheque; Distrito Federal; Film collections; Films from Brasília; Film preservation


Algumas reportagens relatam a perda de acervos fílmicos de pioneiros que filmaram a construção de Brasília, mostrando que não há conhecimento sobre os locais onde são armazenadas e preservadas estas produções. Com isso, o objetivo geral desta pesquisa é descrever como e onde é realizada a preservação de acervos fílmicos no DF, não só dos pioneiros, mas também de cineastas da cidade. Uma das estratégias metodológicas foi a realização de entrevistas e aplicação de questionário em instituições que abrigam filmes, em instituições coletoras de cultura e em produtoras de filmes existentes no Distrito Federal. Os resultados da pesquisa mostram que atualmente, no DF, as instituições que possuem acervos de filmes não agregam as características necessárias para preservar tais acervos. Notaram-se fortemente deficiências nos recursos humanos e nas instalações físicas que guardam os acervos. Concluiu-se que, apesar de a capital do país ter uma produção cinematográfica bastante expressiva, grande parte das instituições que abrigam de alguma forma acervos de filmes relacionados à cidade não os preserva de forma adequada.

Palavras-chave Acervos fílmicos; Cinemateca; Distrito Federal; Filmes brasilienses; Preservação fílmica


Algunos medios de comunicación han informado la pérdida de las colecciones fílmicas de pioneros que filmaron la construcción de Brasilia, lo que demuestra que no hay conocimiento público acerca de los lugares donde se almacenan y conservan estas producciones. Por ello este trabajo presenta los resultados obtenidos en la investigación de maestría que tuvo como objetivo describir cómo y dónde se lleva acabo la preservación de las colecciones fílmicas en el Distrito Federal, no sólo de los pioneros, sino también de los cineastas de la ciudad. Una de las estratégias metodológicas realizada ha sido entrevistas y cuestionarios aplicados en las instituciones que albergan películas, en instituciones culturales y en empresas productoras de vídeos en el Distrito Federal. Los resultados de la investigación muestran que actualmente, en DF, las instituciones que poseen colecciones de películas no agregan las características necesarias para preservar tales colecciones. Se observaron deficiencias en los recursos humanos y en las instalaciones físicas que protegen las colecciones.Se concluyó que, aunque la capital posea uma producción de cine muy significativa, la mayoría de las instituciones que de algun modo albergan acervos fílmicos relacionados a la historia de la ciudad no son preservados de manera adecuada.

Palabras clave Archivos fílmicos; Cinemateca; Distrito Federal; Películas brasilienses; Preservación fílmica


Film preservation is an essential action for preserving the world’s memory since the films present themselves as witnesses to the way of life of past generations.

Given the importance of film preservation in global context some international organizations are concerned to establish preservation parameters for films, the main one is the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF), created in 1938 and currently holds film archives from all over the world to promote discussions on film preservation. Similarly, the World Memory Program of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) establishes practical guides, and the Science and Technology Council of Hollywood which published “The Digital Dilemma” discusses the current problems regarding film content transfer to digital media.

How-to guides with guidelines for preserving are of the utmost importance, as well as conferences and meetings in order to discuss issues related to the preservation of the film; it is noted that a large portion of the films produced during the early years of Cinema were lost forever due to poor preservation, consequence of ignorance or lack of knowledge about the materials that make up the film media.

The idea of carrying out this research arose from some news articles that were broadcast in the media about the films of the nation’s capital construction that would be lost due to poor preservation. One of the articles cited the the Portuguese engineer Fernando da Glória Rosendo’s collection, he who came to Brasília to help build the Palácio da Alvorada [official residence of the President of Brazil] and filmed the events that would be the start of the new Brazilian capital.

However, the engineer’s films remained with him until 2011 under inadequate humidity and temperature conditions, when they were handed to his daughter Ana Maria Rosendo, who lives in Brasília. Rosendo’s daughter did not even get a projector to watch her father’s shooting, all on 16mm, and the films were sent to the Brazilian Cinematheque of São Paulo which agreed to keep them (TESOUROS..., 2011).

Similar situation occurred with Italian cameraman Dino Cazzola who recorded about 300 hours of film about Brasilia between 1960 and 1970. The material was stored in Cazzola’s home attic without ideal preservation conditions and therefore, over 70% the material was lost (ZANIN, 2012).

The documentary Dino Cazzola: a filmography about Brasília narrates the state in which the Italian cameraman’s films were found, most without the slightest possibility of being recovered. The film labels remained and indicated they were footage of Juscelino Kubitschek walking at construction sites or giving speeches, among other jewels that are part Brasilia’s memory (DINO..., [2012]).

Therefore, the research described in this article was based specifically on the analysis of film collections in Distrito Federal (DF), with the general objective to describe how and where collection preservation is carried out in this region.

The specific objectives set were: describe the characteristics of these collections; identify the physical and human resources for storage and treatment; identify criteria used for including a film in such collections; identify preservation methods for film institutions’ collections located in the national capital; identify factors related to preservation and access to film memory produced/accumulated in DF; and identify DF’s collections managers, producers, and directors perceptions, the ones that have film collections about relevant matters to such collections.

The methodology used to achieve the research objectives was the survey by means of questionnaire and interview, therefore the study adopts a mixed approach, that is, qualitative and quantitative.

In addition to the bibliographical survey, information relevant to the work was found on audiovisual preservation associations and cinematheques web-pages.

The research was validated largely by means of field research that included visits to four film producers and cultural collecting institutions and six institutions that house film collections in Distrito Federal, in order to assess the collections current conditions and collect filmmakers and film producers’ opinions on film preservation in DF.

Therefore, the article is structured by firstly presenting aspects of Brasília’s construction and the creation newsreels spanning across the organizations that hold collections of films created in Brasília and about Brasília to then conduct the interviews with filmmakers, producers and those responsible for film preservation spaces; and finally, describe research methodology, its results and finally the conclusions.

Film collections in the Federal District

The memory extracted from a group of people (collective memory) tends to be more reliable than the report based on the memory of a single individual (individual memory). This fact is exemplified in observing that the memories passed on by pioneers, workers, filmmakers, radio recordings, among several witness statements from when Brasilia was being built, even if do not fully aligned they have the same essence therefore more reliable because they come from a group of people.

Preservation of these testimonial registers holds such importance because it provides successive generations the opportunity to aggregate various information and transform it into memory and history.

When documents representing an epoch are destroyed, this certainly affects future generations, even if they ignore them. If the group of individuals that previously transferred information no longer exists, all that is left is the information media which can reconstruct the scenes experienced at that time (HALBWACHS, 2006).

Construction of Brasília began in the 1950s. Between 1957 and 1960 several footages were taken to register the construction period and the city’s inauguration.

Such footage resulted in three newsreel collections, small advertising films that were shown in the cinemas before feature films began, which were housed at Companhia Urbanizadora da Nova Capital [New Capital Urbanization Company] (NOVACAP), at Instituto Histórico e Geográfico do Distrito Federal [Historical and Geographical Institute of Distrito Federal] (IHGDF), and at Memorial JK [JK Memorial] (ALVIM; BUENO; GUIMARÃES, 1983).

Of the three collections, Memorial JK has presented itself with the largest and most varied themes. It represents Juscelino Kubitschek’s personal collection, donated to the Memorial by his wife, Dona [Lady] Sarah.

IHGDF’s collection, upon examination by EMBRAFILME’s technicians was the most damaged.

In the 1980s, the Fundação Nacional Pró-Memória [National Pro-Memory Foundation] (FNPM) of the Secretariat of Culture of the Ministry of Education was created, it was aimed at reviving the newsreels importance, kept by people or institutions, and which reproduced in images different views of Brasília’s construction.

Having its memory revived by images from the past, by the sound of the governmental voice of that time and by music which emphasized this or that event, those who took part in that controversial moment [...] can re-live it and reflect on it. Those who due to distance or age, did not take part in this process will be given the opportunity [...] to access knowledge, through the possibilities that cinema, more than photography and reading newspapers from that period allow for

(ALVIM; BUENO; GUIMARÃES, 1983, p. 6).

FNPM designers were able to put together the catalog with contents from the 25 newsreels found at Memorial JK but, unfortunately, due to lack of funds they were unable to put into practice the idea of transferring the films to new media and restoring those that were damaged, as they initially wished to do (ALVIM; BUENO; GUIMARÃES, 1983).

Newsreels ceased production in 1960, when Brasília was inaugurated. Four years later, in 1964 and in 1965, Film celebrities began to arrive in Brasilia; names such as Nelson Pereira dos Santos, Jean-Claude Bernardet, Lucila Ribeiro Bernardet, and Dib Lutfi. They intended on contributing to the creation of the Cinema Course at the Universidade de Brasilia (UnB), it would be the first in the country (CARVALHO, 2002).

Paulo Emílio Salles Gomes also came to Brasília to join the UnB Cinema Course Faculty. He had already lived in Paris and had contact with the French film clubs and joined the FIAF’s organization group. Back in Brazil, he created a film club in São Paulo which gave rise to the Cinemateca Brasileira [Brazilian Cinematheque] (SÁ, 2003).

In Brasília, apart from teaching classes at UnB in 1965, he also created the city’s first film club bringing films from the Cinemateca Brasileira de São Paulo that were shown to approximately two thousand people and later discussed in open film sessions for the community.

Ismail Xavier state in the preface to the book Brazilian Cinematheque the importance upon mentioning “the reflection about a research institutionalization project on cinema in Brazil that is launched in cinematheques and extends to the universities, defining a partnership in the production of knowledge and training” (CORREA JÚNIOR, 2010, p. 14).

However, the military dictatorship ended the Film Club’s activities and ordered mass dismissal of UNB’s teachers and practically the entire teaching staff of the Cinema Course during the second half of 1965.

Still, important films with the Brasilia theme were produced in the 1960s, such as Vestibular 70 directed by Vladimir Carvalho and Fernando Duarte; Brasília, year 10, directed by Geraldo Sobral Rocha; Niemeyer’s Itinerary, by Vladimir Carvalho; and University of Brasília: first experience in pre-molded, by Heinz Forthmann (MENDES apud CAETANO, 2007).

Cinema from Brasilia grows a documentary branch during its first productions due to filmmaker´s desire to register the violent military actions taken inside UnB. This genre lasted for a long time in local filmmakers’ production.

Vladimir Carvalho’s quote “Documentary’s poetry is, above all, the truth” summarizes the importance of this genre in creating Brasilia’s memory and cinema from Brasilia (SÁ, 2003, p. 124).

Organizations in DF

Vladimir Carvalho was in charge of the Associação Brasileira de Documentaristas do Distrito Federal [Brazilian Association of Federal District’s Documentarists] (ABD-DF) in Brasília at the time when the Brasília Festival was suspended and the Cinema Course at UnB had been discontinued. At that time ABD-DF’s job was hampered by the military and few people dared to make Cinema in the city, which greatly weakened the Association (CARVALHO, 2002).

As time passed and film production picked up again in the Rio-São Paulo axis under the direction of EMBRAFILME, the return of the Brasília Festival and compliance with the short film law1, the spirit of the Brasilia filmmakers was resumed, even though still under the military regime (CARVALHO, 2002).

In 1978, when several films were again produced at UnB, ABD-DF’s formalization was proposed. The first president of the newly officialized Association was producer Márcio Curi (CARVALHO, 2002).

In the 1990s, filmmaker Marcos de Souza Mendes, then ARD-DF’s Vice President during Carlos Augusto Ribeiro Jr.’s management prepared a project for the development of audiovisual in Brasília which was sent to the Fundação Cultural [Cultural Foundation] but received no response from the authorities and “is still sleeping in the limbo of drawers” (CARVALHO, 2002, p. 304).

From 1990 on, ABD-DF changed its name to Associação Brasiliense de Cinema e Vídeo [Brasilia’s Association of Cinema and Video] (ABCV), sticking to its former purpose of strengthening Brasilia’s cinema class, claiming film production equipment and the establishment of regional production quotas in national biddings. This latter claim would shift the production of national films from the famous Rio-São Paulo axis (MORICONI, 2012).

In 1990, the embryo of the Polo de Cinema do DF [DF’s Cinema Pole] was represented by ABVC. Currently though, the institution that could be responsible for the production of much of DF’s film production has succumbed to the lack of investments (CARVALHO, 2002).

Polo de Cinema, which housed 750 short, medium and feature films and VHS and DVD recordings had to request the transfer of its films to the Arquivo Público do Distrito Federal [Federal District’s Public Archive] (ArPDF) because it was facing the risk of losing its moving images collection due to lack of investments in the Polo, which had part of its film material damaged and the building presented infiltrations (SÁ, 2012).

The ArPDF, designed by Walter Albuquerque Mello, was inaugurated in 1985 – 25 years after the creation of Brasília – with the mission of keeping documents from public agencies and important people who contributed to the creation of DF’s memory. Decree No. 7.492 of April 27, 1983 placed under the protection of the Government of the Federal District (GDF) all NOVACAP documents produced until 1960 and considered of historical value, which was a major step towards preserving Brasilia’s film memory (ARQUIVO PÚBLICO DO DISTRITO FEDERAL, 2009).

Gustavo Chauvet, ArPDF’s Superintendent at the time, gave the author an interview in 2013, reporting that the archive was created in 1985 for two reasons: due to a work by Walter Albuquerque Mello who was first of all concerned with the documentation stored in the Secretariat of Culture, later observing that his concern covered all DF´s documentation. Walter Albuquerque Mello began advocating for the existence of an archive before 1985. The second reason was due to visits by the DF’s Governor in 1985, José Ornellas Filho, to some public agencies, he observed that the documents were scattered and poorly stored in various agencies; thus, he felt the need to create an archive that would adequately house them. The Public Archive was created in this context (verbal information)2.

The purpose creating ArPDF was to preserve the permanent or historical documentation of GDF. However, there was no concern about document management.

Gustavo Chauvet drew attention to the fact that ArPDF was created in 1985 but there was already documentation being produced in DF twenty-five years ago, since 1960, when Brasilia was founded.

The Public Archive, in this way, is created twenty-five years too late, when a large accumulation of documents related to the territory of Brazil’s capital had already been produced in several agencies. The NOVACAP documentation presented itself as the richest in terms of registered content in various media related to the construction and history of Brasilia. According to Gustavo Chauvet (verbal information):

The Public Archive is born gathering the production of NOVACAP from 1956 to 1970 and it was a wild gathering, there was no (sic) previous type of treatment. At the time there was a very large documentary set with no (sic) kind of archival treatment. At this (sic) point, photos, textual documentation and perhaps film documentation came here. But there was no order in that gathering.

Gustavo Chauvet reported that NOVACAP Communication Department decided to make footage and photographs to register the construction of Brasília, thus assembling the Revista Brasília[Magazine Brasília] to register its work in the city in printed photographs and, at the same time, there were the newsreels (verbal information).

Newsreels lasting between 8 and 10 minutes were held to register events, such as the visit of New York’s Mayor or the President of Portugal to Brasilia, which was still under construction. Chauvet reported in the interview that:

Either the authorities got in a helicopter, or they went by Jeep; some went through the Núcleo Bandeirante3, others went straight to the city. Most of the time they went by helicopter for the visit and the filmmaker went along and took the opportunity to film from above the city that was being built. Much of this work was done by the Silva brothers4 hired by NOVACAP with the purpose of disclosing Brasília in the cinemas of Brazil. So the newsreels played in theaters before the feature films.

At the same time as NOVACAP’s Communication Department registered the construction through news channels, the communication advisory of the Presidency of the Republic (National Agency) also covered events. That is why the archives are fragmented. One part is in Rio de Janeiro, in the National Archive, which handles federal documentation, and another part is in Brasília, because filming took place in the new capital. Gustavo Chauvet stated that integration between these two archives is necessary (verbal information).

Another problem faced, according to Chauvet, concerns the fact that it is not known whether the films in ArPDF are originals or copies. Of NOVACAP’s films, “Juscelino Kubitschek himself took some to his home, which were later reclaimed by the JK Memorial”. The interviewee described this occurred with Colonel Afonso Heliodoro, who had taken for himself films that were later reclaimed by IHGDF or delivered to the ArPDF.

Therefore, some originals belonged to Memorial JK and others to IHGDF and ARPDF. All the films belong to NOVACAP but for different reasons they ended up being housed in three different institutions and, on such situation, Chauvet (verbal information) stated that “the films of the other two institutions are here. We have a cold room to preserve them for now, in addition to a technical cooperation agreement to restore all these films”.

In 2010, during the Government of José Roberto Arruda, there were new plans by Luiz Ribeiro de Mendonça and his then advisor Walter Albuquerque Mello for the creation of the National Museum of Image and Sound (MNIS) in Brasília.

The aim of the museum would be “to promote statements for posterity, in sound and image, of the national celebrities and of the Federal District” (ARQUIVO PÚBLICO DO DISTRITO FEDERAL, 2009, p. 25).

However, since the dismissal of Arruda’s mandate in 2010, plans for the creation of the museum have stagnated. This represented a major setback in work for the preservation of films in DF. A museum that kept and broadcasted the recordings of testimonies made at the time of the construction of Brasilia would represent an institution concerned with preservation of the the nation’s capital memory in the best possible way.

Due to the lack of institutions of this kind, the Paraíba-born filmmaker, Vladimir Carvalho, who had been living in Brasília for at least 40 years, transformed his home in the center of Brasília into a small cinematheque. Named as Cinememória, it was founded by the filmmaker in 1994 with the aim of keeping and preserving his documentary work over more than 50 years of activity and also of the films made in Brasília and about Brasília (NASIASENE, [2010?]).

The small institution was born to be “a positive teasing” to the public authorities, so that they better reflect on the importance of creating a cinematheque in Brasilia (SÁ, 2003, p.126).

Vladimir Carvalho reported that the Cinememory Foundation has a photographic exhibition, cameras, paintings, trophies but no films are kept at the foundation: “by some carelessness, there may be some copies of my films here waiting for the decision to take them to Rio, to São Paulo or leave some in the Public Archive because there is an air-conditioned room” (verbal information)5.

Vladimir Carvalho, in an interview with the author, reported that this “is a problem that should be looked at head-on” and that is why the filmmaker created the Cinememory Foundation. The interviewee claimed to have hundreds of pictures about cinema in Brasilia, newspaper clippings and movie posters that, even though they are not as fragile as the films, should be kept at an adequate temperature. Glauber Rocha’s photographic work providing an interview with Vladimir Carvalho at the 1970 Brasília Film Festival is already fading.

Regarding films, Carvalho states that individually it is almost impossible to create a cinematheque due to the high maintenance costs. The interviewee highlighted that cinematheques must be government or private institutions that can afford the high costs of preserving films. “The Cinematheque has to have special walls to keep specimens of films like the old nitrate that catches fire very easily. The nitrate film has to stay almost in a safe” (verbal information).

The Cinememory Foundation has 6,000 items and a library with 4,000 volumes. During his life, Vladimir Carvalho made 23 films whose negatives were deposited in the MAM’s Cinematheque, in the National Archive and most of them in the Brazilian Cinematheque in São Paulo so that they could be safeguarded and eventually copied to other media and shown (Ibidem).

Because here in Brasilia I can at most keep a copy of a movie temporarily; I’ve been risking having the material in the DF Public Archive for over fifteen years. At this moment when I’m talking to you I’m losing my copies because film degenerates like people, the film dies. If a negative is left without climatic conditions, the image will disappear and become a folder. And I can tell you (sic) that in Brasilia there is no place where films are protected from these threats. That’s why I created this here, to signal. I can say it so many times, in the press, in the lectures I present, I draw attention to that. Brasilia’s cinematography has existed since the cornerstone was laid in this city. Brasília was partitioned being filmed but it does not have its cinematheque. Cinematheque, roughly speaking, is the museum of cinema. Brasilia doesn’t have one. Brasilia doesn’t have a museum, actually, worthy of that name. It has a place called The Museum of the Republic where there is an effort of selfless people who try to keep it as if it were a place of exhibition but it does not have a museum project. Who’s to say the cinema is a little off the top of it all!

In addition, not all of Vladimir Carvalho’s films were transferred to digital media, which would be a very expensive undertaking.

The research

The research adopted a mixed approach, as the data collection was done through questionnaire and interview.

It presented itself as descriptive – because it was not yet possible to say if anywhere in DF the films were preserved correctly before the field research – and aimed to describe the characteristics of the institutions that house collections of films in the Federal District.

It included visits to four film producers and cultural collecting institutions (HOMULUS, 1990) them being: Asa Cine, Cinemory Foundation, Ligocki Z and Studio 13; and six institutions that house collections of films from the Federal District: ArPDF, UNB Communications College, UnB Central Library, TV Câmara, TV Senado and UnB TV.

Such institutions were chosen so that it was possible to assess the conditions in which the collections are kept – film, VHS, DVD and other media – and collect opinions from filmmakers and film producers about the film preservation in DF.

The universe of the research was made up of institutions that met specific criteria, as well as:

  • Obtain collections of films of the documentary or fiction genre, excluding journalistic reports, advertising films, and similar and/or;

  • To obtain film collections about some specific process. In the case of research, the scope is the construction of Brasília and themes related to the construction of the capital or containing film makers production about DF and/or;

  • They are collections containing film support on 8, 16 and 35 mm film, on magnetic VHS and on digital DVD and/or;

  • They are related to the film production of DF because they contain films produced at DF by a Brazilian filmmaker and/or with a DF theme.

The questionnaires were analyzed using graphics by the support tool Survey Monkey used in quantitative research. The pre-test of the questionnaire was applied in the Brazilian Cinematheque of São Paulo.

The interviews were analyzed by the method of text condensation focusing on meaning, described by Kvale and Svend (2009, p.205). This summary method is used to summarize extensive texts.

It should be noted that IHGDF and Memorial JK, important institutions that kept collections of films made in Brasilia in the 1960s, were not included in the research universe, as they transferred their collections of films to the ArPDF in the 1990s.

IHGDF transferred nine 16 mm film rolls to the ArPDF in 1996. In 1998 19 film sets were transferred to the same institution from the Brazilian Cinematheque. Still in the 1990s, ArPDF analyzed the received collection and found that three films were already completely lost.

To celebrate the 110th anniversary of Juscelino Kubitschek, an agreement was reached between the JK Memorial and the ArPDF for all Memorial films to be transferred to the ArPDF, where they are currently located (CIPRIANO, 2012).

Results and reflections

With regard to the characteristics of film collections in DF, it was observed that the institutions that house them were created from the 1980s on and never ceased to be created, so it is observed that there is a concern with the safeguarding of the film collections in the DF region.

Although such collections were created as an emergency measure so the films would not be lost, there was no prior planning for their management and preservation.

The institutions present themselves almost as a deposit of documents, sheltering in the same place, printed materials such as newspapers, architectural blueprints, photographs, and films on film supports, VHS and DVD. It is known that various material-made film supports should be sheltered in different locations, as they require specific humidity and temperature conditions.

The purpose of setting up institutions is to collect and store films produced in the Federal District by filmmakers from Brasilia and/or related to the city in a single space.

This purpose coincides with the sole criterion of putting together the film collections currently in DF, which draws attention to the need of creating new criteria in the face of the problems that have been presented in the testimonials of archives organization.

Problems such as deficiencies in putting together the research for the general public; lack of personnel specialized in organizing collections and assembling information recovery systems; and authorship of the unknown films were also highlighted by collections managers, DF producers and filmmakers who have film collections.

According to the statements, when the institutions were created, the films were scattered in various agencies and in the filmmaker’s homes without ideal preservation environment.

As for the physical and human resources in the collections, it was observed that in 83.3% of the institutions films in original support are majority and 1/3 have them in film.

In addition, one third of films is made of cellulose nitrate, a material that requires adequate physical facilities, because it is toxic and self-flammable, and deteriorates rapidly when exposed to climatic variations.

Although films require human resources with expertise to deal with the collection, some of the presented data demonstrate a lack of preparation of professionals working in the institutions.

Most of them do not have a specialization in conservation and/or restoration, in most institutions, professionals have been identified without higher education and there is a shortage of professionals trained in Cinema within the institutions. This is shown in Graph 1.

Source: Oliveira (2013).

Graph 1 Conservation and/or restoration training 

Filmmaker Manfredo Caldas reported in an interview with the author that his training in Cinema at the cinematheque of the Museum of Modern Art (MAM) in Rio de Janeiro helped him to specialize in Film Restoration better:

It was one of my first jobs. When I began to professionalize, I not only took the specific courses at MAM’s cinematheque, film history course, editing course and a number of other courses, but I also started working at the cinematheque. So, I had access to everything and started restoring movies.

The lack of film projectors in the institutions was also observed, which makes the film inaccessible and makes it difficult to preserve.

Much of the films, both in color and black-and-white, are stored outside the ideal conditions of temperature and relative humidity. It was even observed that in 40% of the institutions the films in color and black-and-white appear to be housed in the same place, under the same conditions, when each type of colorization has particular measures of temperature and relative humidity.

The figures presented show that there is still a lack of fire safety awareness. Only half of the institutions have fire extinguishers.

It has also been shown that harmful occurrences to the collections have affected the institutions by a large percentage. Cases of Vinegar Syndrome – the worst form of deterioration of acetate support – have been recorded in 75% of the institutions and the deterioration of fungal emulsion, a process considered irreversible, has already occurred in half of the institutions.

The major deficiencies identified by the institutions in relation to physical and human resources are improper physical facilities, qualitative deficiencies in human resources and physical space limitations – in half of the institutions.

No institution has considered having appropriate physical, technological and human resources.

Regarding the criteria used for the incorporation of films into the DF’s collections, the institutions usually present a single criterion as being films produced in the Federal District, by filmmakers from Brasilia and/or with theme related to the city; or, if there is no criterion at all, they keep materials of all kinds in the same place as long as there is room for it. That is why half of the institutions declared that they have physical space limitations as illustrated in the graph below.

Source: Oliveira (2013).

Graph 2 Institutions’ resources situation 

Regarding the preservation methods of the film collections in DF’s institutions, that is, the use of FIAF safeguard guidelines, restoration and indexing techniques, the migration of media and the practice of the legal deposit, it can be said that they are minimal. Lack of training of the film preservation professionals was reflected in a very negative way in the collections.

All institutions carry out in their film collections only manual cleaning, which represents not a restoration technique, but preventive conservation. In addition, one-third of DF’s institutions do not even know the parameters of FIAF preservation.

Positive points are the frequency of media migration and film indexation with a view to their preservation and access, carried out in 66.7% of the institutions.

Regarding access to the film memory produced/accumulated in DF, most institutions provide free access to Information Recovery Systems.

However, filmmakers and producers have stated that their films are generally not accessible to the general public. The price support policy of distributors makes it possible for only a small number of copies to be distributed. Films are sometimes made public by the work of film-related institutions such as Livraria Cultura and the rental company from Brasilia Cult Video. The latter often organizes film sessions that are not marketed to the general public.

In addition to this problem, it was observed in the interviews that some filmmakers have only the original film, which poses an imminent risk to their loss. As mentioned in the UNESCO Program (2002, p. 19-21), if there is no copy on another support, it is better not to expose the original so as not to put it at risk of being damaged.

As for the perception of collections managers, DF producers and filmmakers who have film collections about relevant issues in these collections, most interviewees reported having lost films because they were in inadequate locations. Only one reported not having lost material because he started filming in the digital era but still feels insecure about the self-life of digital media.

The statements attributed to Brasilia an expressive film production in quantity and quality, mainly due to the influence of the first filmmakers who came to the city to create the Cinema Course at UnB. There is consensus among the interviewees that the film production in the city continues to be very expressive, which can be noticed by the fact that the Brasilia Film Festival is one of the largest in the country.

However, the preservation of films requires financial investment and specialization of human resources. Although what has been noted is the lack of government investment in this matter or the lack of vision about the good results that film preservation would bring to the memory of the city, or the lack of interest in keeping that memory.

Those who want to know more about the history of Brasília or make films in the city are left without references of the past to build their works or reconstitute in their imagination striking facts about the capital since its inauguration.

Several interviewees reported that the existence of a cinematheque in Brasília, which would gather all the films in one place making them accessible, would facilitate access to the city’s memory.

Currently, some films produced in the capital are found in other states of Brazil and without a copy in DF, which makes them even more inaccessible to Brasilia locals. This is due to the fact that filmmakers are unable to preserve their own films because of the high costs for this practice and, among the Brazilian institutions able to receive films and keep them preserved Brazilian Cinematheque of São Paulo, MAM’s Cinematheque and the National Archive of Rio de Janeiro were cited.

What has favored the preservation of films from Brasilia is their good disclosure, which creates copies for television channels, for example. The more copies, the harder it becomes for the film to disappear.

It was also noted that much of DF’s films, both from private and public collections, have been deposited in the ArPDF for some time, thus this institution represents the only place for safeguarding of films in the capital today.


After the Second World War, while the so-called informational explosion was going on, the idea of creating film collections spread throughout the world. It was observed that the registered information had numerous medias, among them the film.

Because films register the information, not only from the point of view of the evolution of the Cinema itself but also the contents developed in the film, which is valuable information that needs to be preserved, and the research to which it refers in the present article represents a contribution to Information Science to create an alert for the current preservation scenario in which the films in Brasilia find themselves.

Regarding historical facts about the construction of a cinematographic movement in DF and issues involving film preservation in the capital, the descriptions were very similar among interviewees.

It was concluded, from the data collected, that the production of films made in Brasilia is expressive in quantity and quality, besides being constant since the creation of the city but there was never a place in the Federal District where the film collections produced could be kept in safety.

In addition, the practices that lead to film preservation are expensive and require dedication of time and expertise, which makes them difficult to execute by the filmmakers themselves and producers.

Currently, in DF, institutions that have film collections do not aggregate the necessary characteristics for preserving such collections. There have been strong deficiencies in human resources and physical facilities that keep the collections.

There is no Cinematheque in the Federal District to store the films that are being produced nor those that are in danger of being lost, and this responsibility has been transferred to the ArPDF, which has neither physical support nor human resources to maintain the films as is done in a properly equipped Cinematheque.

In general, to keep the films safe, most filmmakers send them to São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro. ArPDF is often used as a temporary or emergency safeguard.

Although the data reveal that there is no institution that stores the films properly in DF, the ArPDF seems to be making great effort to structure the institution to be better suited to a cinematheque standard.

The creation of a cinematheque in DF is therefore an urgent measure to safeguard the memory of Brasilia and the disclosure of films made in Brasilia. In addition, this institution would help in the practical and theoretical training of filmmakers and foster discussions about Brazilian film culture and, consequently, those from Brasilia, thus creating an institution linked to education and culture with roots in the artistic production of the city itself.

Taking up the general objective of the present work, to describe how and where the preservation of the film collections from the Federal District is carried out, it can be concluded that the preservation attempt is carried out in few institutions that practically store the films without preserving them.

The practice of media transfer would increase access to films and represent one of the ways of preserving the film material; however, there is currently no institution in DF that performs such action and makes the films available.

Public institutions that house films have established such a practice on an unsafe basis, without adequate equipment, physical facilities or personnel.

The films from Brasilia that are kept in safer conditions are not in the Federal District, which makes them inaccessible to Brasilia locals. Those that stay in Brasilia are in danger of being lost quickly.

The present situation of the film collection produced throughout the history of Brasilia is being impacted on two fronts: access and preservation.

1Article 13 of Federal Law 6.281 of December 09, 1975.

2Interview provided by Gustavo Chauvet at Arquivo Público do Distrito Federal in 2012.

3Brasília’s satellite city.

4Sálvio and Sinésio Silva, sons and partners of cameraman José Silva, owner of the firm Libertas Filme, which operated at the time of the construction of Brasília. Libertas Filme was the producer responsible for nearly all 25 JK Memorial films presented in the catalogue produced by FNPM in 1983 (ALVIM; BUENO; GUIMARÃES, 1983).

5Interview provided by Vladimir Carvalho at his home in W3, therefore at the Fundação Cinememória [Cinememory Foundation] in 2012.


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Received: July 20, 2016; Accepted: November 16, 2019

PhD student in the Department of Arts at the University of Bologna where she develops a thesis on the adaptation of traditional film restoration laboratories to digital techniques. Holds a master’s degree in Information Science from the Post-Graduate Program in Information Science (PPGCInf) at the Universidade de Brasilia (UnB) with a disserta>tion entitled Preservation of Film Collections in the Federal District. Graduated in Library Science, also at UnB, with a thesis paper entitled Microthesaurus in Cinema, she is a member of the Brazilian Association of Audiovisual Preservation (ABPA) and has a degree in Cinema from the New York Film Academy (NYFA) and specialization in film restoration from the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). Worked with the cataloging of sound documents and books at the University of Brasilia and at the Organization of Ibero-American States and gained experience in film restoration and preservation at the ANIM laboratory of Cinemateca Portuguesa. E-mail:

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