Filmotecas

   Since the mid-1980s, Spain has a substantial network of "cinematheques" (under the umbrella term of Filmoteca) which carry out the important task of preserving film, making it available, educating audiences, and supporting the dissemination of film research. These efforts to consolidate the government-funded institution started late and were insubstantial for over two decades; consequently preservation of pre-Transition materials is not systematic and the film archive is more incomplete than in other cases.
   The Filmoteca Nacional de España, as the institution was initially called, was first founded in 1953, along the lines of other similar institutions like the French Cinematheque or the British Film Institute, and its mandate consisted mostly of film preservation. By that time, some of the earliest negatives had been damaged or lost, and authorities did not seem very interested in enforcing the obligation for producers to send a good print of each film that had received government funds for preservation. In 1962, a series of showings (or projections) were held in Madrid and Barcelona, but the practice did not consolidate and, in fact until the end of the Franco period, a shortage of funds meant that the institution was mostly symbolic in its existence.
   It was only in the early 1970s, under the direction of Florentino Soria, that showings became systematic, and Filmoteca gained prominence among audiences. Even films that were forbidden by the regime could be shown by the cinematheque. This created a generation of cinephiles, particularly in Madrid and Barcelona, who had until then also been prevented from seeing old classics and noncommercial films except for rare showings on television. These projections meant extra income, which was used for preservation, archives, and publications.
   With the Transition, and under the presidency of Luis G. Berlanga, the institution acquired a new name (Filmoteca Española), a more stable sources of funding, and a broader mandate, including a series of collaborations with film festivals and publishers for the continuation of publication work. In 1986, one of the most architecturally striking cinemas in the capital, the Doré, was bought to become the Filmoteca main projection site. The cultural decentralization that followed the 1978 Constitution also meant that branches were set up in cities like Valencia and Zaragoza, which would soon function as independent institutions with some important links with the central Filmoteca Española in Madrid. The tight network has resolved some of its initial problems, and it functions as a group of quality cinemas with substantial programming that includes seasons on world cinema, classics, and forgotten films.

Historical dictionary of Spanish cinema. . 2010.

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