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Národní filmový archiv (NFA)

Founded in 1943, Národní filmový archiv is one of the largest film archives in the world. The basis of the collections are national productions, an exceptional high amount of silent feature films among them.

The Film Archive in Prague was founded in 1943 by the Czech-Moravian film headquarters and is one of the largest film archives in the world. In 1946 it became a member of the International Federation of Film Archives (Fédération Internationale des Archives du Film – FIAF). The Národní filmový archiv (National Film Archive) fulfils basic tasks in the accumulation, protection, scientific processing and use of audiovisual and written archivalia documenting national production, the beginnings and development of cinematography, the life of the Czech nation and significant world events.

The basis of the collections at the National Film Archive – by law the holder of a legal depot of audiovisual works – is positive and negative material of national production, i.e. feature and non-feature (documentary, animated, popular-scientific, news and others) films from the beginnings of the Czech film 1898 to the end of 1991. The newsreels documenting the life of the Czech nation and its major representatives to the year 1990 form an exceptionally valuable part of the collection. From an international point of view, it is exceptional that two thirds of the silent feature films in national production have survived. This also applies, with isolated exceptions, to the entire production of sound feature films.

Another part of the collections includes a wealth of international films which give a complete picture of the development of film art. Of particular worth is the collection of so-called primitives (i.e. films made before the First World War), the collection of slapstick comedies from the period 1912-1929 and the collection of newsreels about important world events.

The film collections currently contain approximately 28.000 copies of feature films, 32.000 copies of non-feature films, 9.500 negatives of feature films, 15.000 negatives of non-features; the NFA is expanding this collection by regularly filming current events and leading figures in Czech society onto 35mm film, the whole amounting to over 130 million meters of film. 100 tons of archive films are stored on highly flammable (nitrocellulose) base. Roughly 150.000 meters of film are copied onto a safe base each year.

The photograph collection of NFA represents another important part of the archive (over 500.000 photographs taken from the Czech and foreign films, photographs of film personalities and film events), 50.000 film posters, over 100.000 promotional and advertising materials, several thousands designs, also scripts and other written archival material from the former Czechoslovak film companies and their predecessors, and from other archives and institutions.

Along with the consistent restoration of films, the NFA is also working to restore these materials. For easy access, the required materials are most frequently digitized in a special laboratory. The National Film Archive is systematically building up an extensive database of archived films and other materials. It is also endeavouring to preserve the so-called oral history of Czech cinematography – over 400 hours of sound recordings containing recollections and interviews with important Czech film makers (the collection entitled Personalities of Czech Cinematography).

The library, containing 61.750 books, magazines and new information sources (CD-ROMs, etc.) ranks among the best libraries in the Czech Republic.

The versatile work of the NFA film historians and its academic staff also includes teaching and editing work. The National Film Archive publishes key filmographic works in Czech and English (Czech Feature Film I. 1898-1930, Czech Feature Film II. 1930-1945, Czech Feature Film III. 1945-1960, Czech Feature Film IV. 1961-1970, from 1992 periodically the Film Year Book), film anthologies (historical and theoretical works), original and translated literature, the Film Review and Illumination magazine on theory, history and aesthetics.


Národní filmový archiv