• What is a cinematheque?

    A cinematheque is an institution that preserves and provides access to films and, in recent years, video and television programs as well. It is both an archive and a museum, but not a lending institution, although some places do use the term in this sense.

  • How many cinematheques are there in the world?

    It’s hard to say. There are large national cinematheques and smaller regional or specialized cinematheques. Almost all the major cinematheques belong to the International Federation of Film Archives (FIAF). FIAF currently has 126 affiliates, representing 71 countries. In Canada, only the Cinémathèque québécoise and Library and Archives Canada are members of FIAF. (TIFF Cinematheque is an associate.) There are also national associations (e.g., in France) or territorial associations (in North America, the Council of North American Film Archives/CNAFA) that bring together a large number of institutions. There is also the Federation of International Television Archives (FIAT), founded in 1977, which brings together over 80 television organizations around the world, and which the Cinémathèque québécoise also belongs to.

    International Federation of Film Archives

    International Federation of Television Archives

  • What is the Cinémathèque québécoise like compared with the other cinematheques?

    It is a cinematheque that has established a balance between preservation and exhibition. It has two special areas of expertise: animation and Quebec and Canadian cinema. Its conservation facilities ensure optimal temperature and relative-humidity conditions for the collections. Its theatres and exhibition spaces permit permanent access to the collections, while its Médiathèque serves as a gateway to the document collections and other collections relating to cinema for researchers and the general public.

  • Where are the films in the Cinémathèque’s collection kept?

    Since 1975, they have been kept at the Conservation Centre in the Montreal suburb of Boucherville. These storage facilities are like huge refrigerators that control the temperature and humidity to keep the works from deteriorating. Conditions vary depending on the medium (film or magnetic tape). Black and white acetate films and magnetic tape are stored at 14°C and 50% RH, while colour prints are stored at a colder temperature and lower relative humidity. Negatives and other printing materials are stored below freezing to ensure optimal preservation.

  • What do the Cinémathèque’s collections consist of other than films?

    The collections relating to cinema include photographs (prints and negatives), posters, scripts, equipment (from early cinematographic devices to the present day, including TV sets), archival documents, animation elements, soundtracks and, to a lesser extent, artefacts relating to film shoots.

  • Can people donate films or objects to the Cinémathèque?

    Deposits and donations are welcome. They help us to round out our collections and maybe even to discover a rare or lost film. However, the Cinémathèque has acquisition policies for all its collections to ensure they are developed in an orderly manner in accordance with its mandate and priorities.

    Acquisitions section

  • What training do you have to have to work with the collections?

    Obviously, a good knowledge of cinema, especially Quebec cinema. But also technical or professional training in documentation, museology or archive administration and, in certain cases, practical experience in film production.

    Jobs

  • Where do the films and television programs shown at the Cinémathèque come from?

    Mainly from our collections but also from other cinematheques, distributors and broadcasters that lend us prints or copies, and institutions with international distribution programs.

  • How long has the Cinémathèque been putting on exhibitions?

    In the 1970s, when it was on McGill Street, the Cinémathèque already had a permanent exhibition space where it displayed a few elements from its collections relating to cinema (early cinematographic devices, photos, posters, etc.). The foyer outside the screening room, both at the Bibliothèque nationale and, since 1982, at de Maisonneuve Boulevard East, has always displayed temporary exhibitions. Since 1997, two specialized galleries (Salle Raoul-Barré for permanent exhibitions and Salle Norman-McLaren for temporary exhibitions) have offered the public a selection of exhibitions from home and abroad, often designed and created or adapted by the Cinémathèque. The Cinémathèque has also started producing virtual exhibitions that can be viewed online.

    Exhibitions

  • What kind of exhibitions are shown at the Cinémathèque?

    Thematic exhibitions on cinema and television featuring photographs, posters, equipment and moving images from our collections or loaned by other institutions.

    Exhibitions

  • Why do the screenings change each day?

    Because the Cinémathèque programs its theatres like a museum trying to provide access to the many different facets of the national and international film and television heritage. It does this through film series, retrospectives and thematic programs. It presents both classic and contemporary cinema and television. It does not commercially “exploit” films and is not trying to compete with conventional film exhibitors and distributors.

  • Who determines the programming?

    A committee of filmmakers and curators meets regularly to propose and prepare the screening and exhibition programs. The committee members all make suggestions, and then choices are made in agreement with the Cinémathèque’s Executive Director and based on the priorities established.

  • What is the advantage of going to see screenings at the Cinémathèque?

    Most of the works are presented in their original version, with subtitles if necessary, and in accordance with the screening conditions that prevailed at the time. For example, silent films are projected at the originally intended speed and with the original framing.

  • Is the Médiathèque an important documentation centre?

    Since its foundation in 1963, the Cinémathèque has had a mandate to preserve any document published about cinema regardless of its country of origin, language or subject. In 1982, the Bibliothèque nationale du Québec entrusted its film documentation centre to the Cinémathèque. With the expansion and the new mandates adopted by the Cinémathèque in the mid-1990s, the Documentation Centre became the Médiathèque Guy-L.-Côté. It is the largest film and television documentation and reference centre in Canada.

    Médiathèque Guy-L.-Coté

  • What place does television have at the Médiathèque?

    From its inception, the Médiathèque has collected documents relating to television. Although the mandate in this regard has grown over time, it is still more limited than that for cinema. It is primarily of a practical nature, focused on users’ reference needs. Nevertheless, we do subscribe to all the major television and video periodicals, and maintain a large collection of monographs on television series, soap operas and téléromans, as well as more theoretical aspects of the medium.

  • Does the Médiathèque index many of these periodicals?

    The Médiathèque indexes some 30 periodicals, including 11 from Quebec, thereby contributing to FIAF’s indexing network. With the periodicals on FIAF’s CD-ROM, there are over 150 cinema and television periodicals whose content is available to users at the Cinémathèque. Books and files are also indexed in detail. Users can search the Cinémathèque’s database by author, title, country, year and subject. There are some 115,000 records in all.

  • Why does the Médiathèque hold foreign-language periodicals?

    Basically to fulfill our mandate and the needs of researchers and students conducting in-depth research. They are sometimes even consulted by foreign researchers. Don’t forget that their content is accessible because they are often indexed by FIAF’s indexing network.