How Cinematheques Get Started - Number One in a new series - Contributions welcome
I decided to start this (possible) series when I was having a trawl through the website of the Berlin Arsenal (current building left), a now mighty institution which has a profound influence on the national film culture.
Here is a sample of the history that is on their website click here
The First Years In May 1963, Gero Gandert, Ulrich Gregor, Helmut Käutner, Friedrich Luft, Karena Niehoff, Hansjürgen Pohland, Reinold E. Thiel, and Carl Wegner registered the "Friends of the German Film Archive" as an official association at the Berlin-Charlottenburg registration office. Their goal was to make the film holdings of the recently founded German Film Archive available to the public and to carry out film cultural work on an ongoing basis both with films obtained from other archives as well as contemporary ones. They organized regular events at the Akademie der Künste and in Berlin cinemas until 1969. Gero Gandert, Erika and Ulrich Gregor, Heiner Roß, Hubert Liepe, Manfred Salzgeber and Reinold E. Thiel were all involved in the Friends of the German Film Archive’s work during this time.
Even back then, the fundamental idea was to combine old and new films in order to keep film history alive. In 1968, the association received a prize from the Professional Film Journalists Association for the first program leaflets published as part of the "Film Archive" series. Initial efforts were also made towards setting up a film distribution company in parallel with cinema work.
1970-2000: The Welserstraße YearsThe Arsenal cinema opened in Welserstraße on January 3rd 1970. Even by this point, nearly the entire cinema staff was working on a voluntary basis, with the exception of the projectionists and the director. In 1970, the association received total funding of 3,500 DM from the state of Berlin as well as two additional 5,000 DM sums to fund two special ventures: the "The Theme of Revolution and the Synthesis of the Arts" exhibition on Eisenstein put on at the Akademie der Künste in collaboration with Moscow film scholar Naum Kleemann and the purchase of a 16mm film projector.
In the years that followed, Arsenal served as an inspiration for the many repertory cinemas, non-commercial film houses and art house cinemas that subsequently opened on Berlin’s Ku'damm and across the country. The Friends of the German Film Archive was a founding member of AG Kino and AG for kommunale Filmarbeit, two different national task forces dedicated to cinema work.
In 1970, the board of directors of the Berliner Festspiele asked the Friends of the German Film Archive to take on the responsibility of setting up and running an International Forum of New Cinema, an event to be held alongside the increasingly beleaguered Berlin International Film Festival and thus help ensure its survival.
Outside the Building in 1976. Ulrich Gregor second from left