Culture of Brazil He suffered a severe setback again after the flames burned a part of the San Pablo Cinematheque, which brings together the largest film archive in South America.
The fire spread Thursday night through one of the institution’s warehouses, which houses a part of Brazil’s cinematographic history, and once again revealed the neglect suffered by culture in recent years.
The world of cinema lamented the losses caused by the fire, which originated during an air conditioning maintenance, and attributed the accident to the “omission” by the government of President Jair Bolsonaro, responsible for the management of the institution.
“It was already known that this could occur due to the omission of the federal government in the management of the Cinemateca. This is a crime,” the Brazilian actress and director Bárbara Paz said on her social networks.
In addition to dozens of actors and directors, the governor of San Pablo, Joao Doria, one of Bolsonaro’s main political rivals in the conservative field, also raised his voice and affirmed that the event is the result of “contempt for art and the memory of Brazil”.
“The gradual death of the national culture,” stressed the governor.
Several fire trucks arrived to fight the fire at the San Pablo Cinematheque, this Thursday. Photo: EFE
A long list of fires
And it is that the fire of the cinematheque adds to a long list of institutions and cultural entities that have been the target of the flames in Brazil, where budget cuts in the area of Culture have intensified in recent years.
In 2018, a fire of great proportions devoured the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, the oldest in the country and which housed some 20 million pieces dating from different periods, including historical documents, dozens of dinosaur bones, mummies, and stuffed animals. and the skeletal remains of Luzia, the oldest woman in South America.
In 2015, the flames consumed the Museum of the Portuguese Language, located in the “Estação da Luz” of São Paulo and that paradoxically this Saturday will reopen its doors again after almost six years of reconstruction work.
The fire in the National Museum of Rio de Janeiro, in September 2018. Photo: REUTERS
The fire in the cinematheque itself appeared to be a “déjà vu”. The fire already burned in 2016 about 300 films in the central building of the institution, corroded by the greatest crisis in its history and a continuous cut in resources.
“An announced crime”
The Prosecutor’s Office recently alerted the government about the possible risks faced by the cinematheque, responsible for keeping the audiovisual memory of the country, and it opened last year a process of “abandonment” against the Executive after he did not renew the contract with the organization that managed the institution.
Center officials published a manifesto this Friday in which they considered that the fire registered on Thursday is an “announced crime” and represents the “loss” of a part “of Brazilian history.”
“Our history has been continually extirpated, like a project. Unfortunately, we lost one more part of the Brazilian historical-cultural heritage,” the document highlights.
The special secretary of Culture of Brazil, Mario Frías, for his part, attributed the deterioration of the cinematheque to previous efforts, which, in his opinion, used “public money from culture to buy political support from the artistic elite.”
The fire destroyed much of the cultural heritage of the San Pablo Cinematheque on Thursday night. Photo: EFE
“We are trying, with a lot of dedication and effort, to structure these teams, but what was destroyed in decades is not built in a year,” Frías said on his social networks this Friday.
Tension with the government of Jair Bolsonaro
The relationship between the cultural sector and the government has been tense since the beginning of the administration of the leader of the Brazilian extreme right, a fierce critic of the so-called “cultural Marxism” and that downgraded the Ministry of Culture to Secretariat status, dependent on the Tourism portfolio.
Bolsonaro even appointed Regina Duarte, known for her roles in famous soap operas, as Secretary of Culture to “pacify” the relationship with the sector, but the actress left office months later amid various controversies.
The president came to propose the direction of the cinematheque as a consolation, but the one considered for many years as “the bride of Brazil” never came to assume.