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Mexican actor Gael Garcia Bernal at Cannes, 2012


Official Press Release:


CANNES – Sunday 20 May 2012. The restoration and redevelopment of Mexico’s Cineteca Nacional, the country’s state-owned archive and cinémathèque dedicated to promoting the country’s cinematic heritage and offering a home to the best of world cinema for Mexico’s audiences to enjoy, has been unveiled today for the first time to the international film industry at Cannes.

The Cineteca Nacional, will open in November 2012 following a €22 million renovation and development programme that will see the new Cineteca emerge as a first-class venue with the latest and best technology for film on all formats, expanded film archive facilities, and a vision and space that reflects film culture and Mexico’s own cinematographic heritage.

The new Cineteca will offer filmmakers and audiences more space and facilities for participating in a whole range of film activity including:
• four additional auditoria for cinema-goers to see films and increasing the overall seating capacity at the Cineteca by 20%, from 2,050 to 2,500 seats;
• a new Videothèque where visitors can see material from the Cineteca’s archives;
• bigger archive vaults to house an additional 50,000 reels of film;
• a digital restoration laboratory to restore and preserve films for people to see;
• new screening and projection equipment to show films made on new formats; and
• new ‘green’ areas and restaurants to offer visitors a whole new experience when they visit the Cineteca.
As a result of the investment in the renovation and development, admissions to the Cineteca are projected to double from 630,516 in 2011 to 1.2m a year in 2013. The Cineteca has traditionally attracted a young audience, with 22 years old being the average age of its cinema-goers. As a nation, Mexicans are passionate about cinema, making Mexico the fifth biggest cinema-going country in the world.

Paula Astorga, General Director of Cineteca Nacional says, “Film can only be truly alive if people are able to see it and enjoy it, so the investment in our screening facilities is vital to the archive, as well as for art-house and contemporary cinema programming, and in addition to providing the equipment to preserve and restore our film heritage. I believe that we are now the biggest cinemathèque in the world and having 10 screens will enable us to welcome more cinema-goers and programme an even wider diversity of cinema. The whole film experience for audiences will be enriched through being able to see exhibitions and other related film materials.”

Marina Stavenhagen, General Director, Instituto Mexicano de Cinematografía, says, “The restoration and renovation of the Cineteca Nacional is an important investment in Mexico’s film culture for both filmmakers and audiences. The investment in the building and high-end technology will ensure that the Cineteca is one of the best equipped venues for cultural film around the world, to continue its work in rescue and preservation, as well as promoting filmmaking excellence from across decades.”

Creating a design concept that integrated the new facilities with the existing Cineteca which was created by one of the most emblematic architects in Mexico, Manuel Rocha, was a major priority for the renovation work. Now, a new rooftop visually connects the new and existing building, there are linking walkways, undercover green spaces and an outdoor amphitheater creating the idea of a cinema in the park. The vision and architectural design is the creation of two teams, the award-winning architects Michel Rojkind and Gerardo Salinas, and, following in his father’s footsteps, Mauricio Rocha.

“We have a building that is avant-garde in design,” explains Paula Astorga, “and preserving the original building in a way that pays homage to the architect Manuel Rocha is part of the Cineteca’s ethos and also adds to Mexico’s cinema legacy. We wanted to integrate the new facilities in a way that harmonises with the original design and which become part of a single, complete venue rather than creating a building of old and new.”

The Cineteca is one of very few cinemas in Mexico that is dedicated to art-house cinema and related activities for filmmakers and cinema-goers. It provides an alternate exhibition circuit for art and independent films, national and international. Throughout the year it offers cinema-goers an exciting film programme including themed seasons, double-bills, retrospectives, premieres, film weeks dedicated to foreign cinema, a children’s festival and screenings from the archive. Seven of the country’s film festivals use the Cineteca.

Over the years it has been visited by many of the world’s leading filmmakers including Theo Angelopoulos, David Cronenberg, Bruno Dumont, Peter Greenaway, Werner Herzog, Mahamat Saleh Haroun, Naomi Kawase, Mike Leigh, Nicolas Philibert, Ulrich Seidl, Bela Tarr, Liv Ullmann, and Mexican filmmakers such as Carlos Reygadas and the many times awarded Guillermo Del Toro.

The reopening of the Cineteca will be marked by the 54th edition of the Muestra Internacional de Cine, also known as the International Film Mostra, held annually since 1974. The Muestra presents some of the world’s most outstanding films to audiences in a programme that incorporates talks from international film directors, actors and other film luminaries.

The Cineteca’s film archive work covers film and non-film material which includes photographs, stills, slides and negatives as well as old projection and technical equipment. Its film collection holds more than 15,000 titles, 365,000 iconographic pieces, 14,000 books and 7,000 screenplays.

The Cineteca has been largely closed as a public venue for screenings or other activities during the one year renovation except for operational offices for managing the building.

In order to ensure that audiences could still see films during the period of closure for renovation Cineteca Director General Paula Astorga initiated partnerships with 12 venues located all around Mexico City offering screenings, audience discussions, book presentations and press conferences. Thanks to this initiative, new audiences have got involved with the Cineteca Nacional and with the world of film, and will be encouraged to visit the new Cineteca when it reopens in November.

The whole renovation has been funded by the Federal Government through the National Council for Culture and the Arts of Mexico.


Paula Astorga, General Director of Cineteca Nacional at breakfast sur la plage, Cannes, 2012

posted by Vanessa McMahon  


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