In front of the fire at the Brazilian Cinematheque

Image: Jeffrey Czum
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By FACULTS OF THE HISTORY DEPARTMENT AT USP*

Open letter

A warehouse at the Cinemateca Brasileira, in São Paulo, 'came on fire' on July 29, 2021, with the loss of films and related textual documentation, material of inestimable importance and, for the most part, irrecoverable.

Many voices, in protest against this disaster, pointed out that it was an announced and more than foreseeable tragedy, taking into account the denunciations made by institution employees, filmmakers, researchers and the press about the negligence of the federal government in relation to the safety of those facilities and the preservation of its precious collection, suffocated and now incinerated by unacceptable governmental disregard for its minimal support, with funds and other material resources denied or minimized.

Very important historical documents, after their criminal destruction due to the irresponsibility of those who should have taken care of them, do not return in a new crop.

Films, texts and other historical sources are more than their visible materiality. They represent human actions, relationships between men and women of different generations, results and potentialities of social experiences. To lose them is to drastically reduce the ability to understand that world and its posterity, our world and the future, it is to mutilate the perspectives of social relations that made those materials possible and make possible their later understanding and their unfolding in new actions of women and men. .

Communications scholars, historians, educators and many other professionals at the university and other research and teaching institutions, as well as all citizens, were irremediably attacked, victimized by this terrible event.

Tragedies, in the world without gods, refer to human political responsibilities, all too human, for their consequences.

We denounce those responsible for the destruction of a significant part of the Cinemateca Brasileira, an admirable entity for the preservation and study of national cinema, and demand that the justice system rigorously investigate the facts and punish those who made them possible.

The loss of historical documentation, we repeat, goes beyond its immediate material dimension. It means less possibility of inquiring about the social conditions of those who produced it and who studied, studies and will study it.

We, who study Cinema and other social practices, in the name of History, cannot remain silent in the face of the instituted calamity.

The Dignity of the Policy encompasses Responsibility and Ethics.

Without these dimensions, public management is reduced to emptiness or, even worse, to official banditry.

 

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