Museum Film Library activities transfer to AlhóndigaBilbao
Inaugurated in 1983, the Film Library at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has been run since then by assistant Museum director José Julián Bakedano.
Inaugurated in 1983, the Film Library at the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum has been run since then by assistant Museum director José Julián Bakedano. It was started for two basic reasons, one being the urge to make film as a visual art an integral part of Museum activity, in much the same way as other museums like New York’s MOMA, or the Louvre and the Pompidou Centre in Paris had already started to do. The other motivation was the desire to provide venues for screening non-commercial films on a regular basis, thus filling a major gap in the arts in our area.
To begin with, Film Library screenings were held in a small 56-seater room at the Museum. When, in December 2001, the Museum was given its latest and most radical makeover, it transferred to the present 206-seater auditorium. It was then that Metro Bilbao became the Library’s exclusive sponsor. From that time on, more than one hundred thousand people, including film buffs, Fine Arts and Information Science students and interested members of the public, have attended screenings there. Throughout its 28-year career, the Film Library’s guiding principle of screening works by leading classic and contemporary directors has remained unchanged. The Library has shown more than 200 short seasons revisiting works by some of the movie world’s essential film directors, a roster of talent that includes John Ford, Orson Welles, François Truffaut, Ingmar Bergman, Jean Cocteau, Alfred Hitchcock, Fritz Lang, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Federico Fellini, Luis García Berlanga, Akira Kurosawa and Stanley Kubrick, plus legendary actors such as Buster Keaton, Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper and Charlie Chaplin. Themed seasons have also featured on FL programmes, dedicated to documentaries, contemporary independent film-making, Soviet films, film and opera, masterworks of silent film, African cinema and Japanese anime, to mention just a few. To accompany the main activity, the Film Library has also organized talks and round tables with a good number of top directors, including: Jean Rouch, Marcel Ophuls, Bruce Posner, Agnes Varda, Fernando Arrabal, Juan Mariné, Jesús Franco, Pedro Olea, Jørgen Leth and Francisco Regueiro. Film season planning has frequently involved the FL in cooperation with other Film Libraries, particularly those in Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, with joint seasons being held that have enabled the Library to get hold of copies from foreign film institutes in France, Germany, the UK, Italy, and the USA. Generous support from international institutions with general interests in the arts, like the British Institute, the French Institute and the Goethe Institute, has also helped the Film Library to achieve and maintain high quality levels. It is certainly no exaggeration to say that the Film Library has been a major prestige factor in all-round activity at the Museum.
Now, however, with the recent inauguration of AlhóndigaBilbao, the city boasts a fine new permanent home for audiovisual offerings. AlhóndigaBilbao has so many good points that it was clearly to everyone’s advantage to move the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum Film Library lock, stock and barrel to the new venue
So, in February 2011, the Film Library will be back, at AlhóndigaBIlbao, with a new season of John Ford films, to be followed by screenings of a number of Pedro Almodovar’s works.
The Film Library has moved. Although at a new home, it will continue to offer film buffs the same services as before. The venue is expected to prove a magnet for anyone interested in culture in general or in putting his or her leisure time to quality use.