ABOUT THE ARCHIVES
Founded in 1961 by filmmaker Bruce Baillie in the San Francisco Bay Area, San Francisco Cinematheque is a non-profit media arts organization dedicated to the cultivation of the international field of non-commercial artist-made cinema. San Francisco Cinematheque inspires aesthetic dialog among artists, stimulates critical discourse, and encourages appreciation of artist-made cinema across the broader cultural landscape. Cinematheque is dedicated to presenting and encouraging study and appreciation of film, video and performance works which engage with the histories and traditions associated with forms of cinema identified under various non-commercial rubrics as avant-garde, experimental, underground, personal, graphic, abstract, expanded, visionary (etc, etc, etc), including formally innovative narrative and documentary, animated works and other marginalized forms. In its dedication to supporting aesthetically radical cinema from all historical eras and geo-political locales, Cinematheque celebrates the breadth and depth of this vibrant art form. The San Francisco Cinematheque Archives consist of physical and digital materials collected during the 60+ year history of the organization and contain information on thousands of films, hundreds of individual film/video artists, hundreds of kindred and collegial exhibition organizations and the curatorial and administrative history of Cinematheque itself. In maintaining and developing archival collections, San Francisco Cinematheque is dedicated to supporting academic and curatorial research into the field(s) of non-commercial artist-made cinema (as described above). For inquiries (general or specific) relating to Cinematheque’s Archives, please contact email@example.com. We encourage visitors to explore San Francisco Cinematheque’s Online Archives here!
As of May 2022, Cinematheque’s digital collections include the organization’s compiled Program Notes 1984–2000 and the Avant to Live! Craig Baldwin/Other Cinema Digital Collection. Coming soon(ish): San Francisco Cinematheque Programming Calendars 1978–2013! Digital Collections can be viewed at archive.sfcinematheque.org.
The physical Archives of San Francisco Cinematheque consist of approximately 5,275 files of paper materials (including over 1,600 artist files); hundreds of still images; approximately 800 individual books, periodicals and film distribution catalogs and countless digital files (of varying formats) collected during the 60+ year history of the organization. These collections contain information on thousands of films, hundreds of individual artists, hundreds of exhibiting organizations and the curatorial and administrative history of San Francisco Cinematheque itself. Largely uncataloged, these Archives are accessible to the research public (by appointment) as a benefit of Membership. For inquiries (general or specific) relating to Cinematheque’s Archives, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org. We encourage visitors to explore our Online Resources.
Cinematheque’s collection of publications is cataloged on LibraryThing at www.librarything.com/catalog/SFCinematheque. These books do not circulate. For inquiries regarding this collection (including arranging access for onsite review), please contact email@example.com.
Support the Archives!
Developing and maintaining physical and digital archives—not to mention providing research access—is extremely resource intensive, with staffing, web hosting and materials cost funded almost exclusively through donations received from individuals in our communities. All donations (from modest to extravagant) are hugely appreciated, take us a long way toward reaching our goals and, of course, are entirely tax-deductible. Please make a donation in support of Cinematheque’s Archives here!
Call for Collections!
In maintaining and developing archival collections, San Francisco Cinematheque is dedicated to supporting academic and curatorial research into the field(s) of non-commercial artist-made cinema (as described above). Through its online collections and occasional exhibitions, Cinematheque’s Archives further its Mission to encourage appreciation of artist-made cinema across the broader cultural landscape. Though strongly associated with alternative film and art culture of the San Francisco Bay Area, Cinematheque’s programmatic and archival focus is international. San Francisco Cinematheque is happy to consider new donations that align with the focus of our collections. Cinematheque actively seeks donations of archival materials and collections in support of this Mission from film/video artists, curators, collectors and other members of our communities, from around the Bay to around the world. As a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, tax credit is available in exchange for donations. If you have materials that you would like to donate, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to open a discussion. Please do not mail (or drop off) unsolicited donations without first contacting us.
Materials sought include (but are by no means limited to) the following:
- Personal Materials: Personal papers and records (in physical and digital formats) documenting the creative work and careers of independent/underground/experimental film/video artists and others working in the field (including writers, scholars and historians), including (for example) career documentation, personal correspondence and notes on films and filmmaking, material documenting exhibition history, writings (published and unpublished), course syllabi and the like.
- Organizational Records: Including memorabilia & ephemera documenting screenings, film/video artists, exhibiting organizations (including “underground” spaces, microcinemas and festivals dedicated to non-commercial artist-made film), independent film/video distributors and the like, for example flyers, calendars, posters, program notes and the like.
- Books and Periodicals relevant to our field (including distribution catalogs, zines and other “micropublished” materials)
- NOTE: Cinematheque actively seeks “full runs” (or even partial runs) of calendars, programs and other ephemera documenting the public exhibitions of film festivals, exhibition venues, screening series, microcinema spaces and the like dedicated to non-commercial artist-made film and video. which operate within our collection Mission. Holders of such material please be in touch!
The following material types fall outside of Cinematheque’s collection mandate and are specifically *NOT* sought:
- Material (in any format) documenting the careers of filmmakers working within commercial narrative or traditional documentary modes of filmmaking
- Programs, posters, etc. documenting the exhibitions or operations of commercial movie theaters, festivals oriented around narrative cinema and the like
- Film & video media: Cinematheque does not have the institutional capacity to collect and care for film/video media.
Permission to use material
San Francisco Cinematheque encourages the use of copyrighted materials in accordance with fair use, as defined by copyright law. Many materials held in Cinematheque’s physical and online archives and collections are protected by copyright and in many cases, Cinematheque does not hold this copyright. San Francisco Cinematheque encourages the use of copyrighted materials in accordance with fair use, as defined by copyright law. To request material from Cinematheque’s online collections for use in publications (including use in books, periodicals, films, exhibitions, websites and other uses), please contact Cinematheque staff at email@example.com. Note that further copyright clearance may be needed in order to use material in this manner and would therefore require negotiation with rights holders as well as from Cinematheque (as the owners of the archival material) for such use. Associated access fees may apply to requests for use of material from Cinematheque’s Archives.
Reasonable effort has been made to determine provenance and authorship of materials presented online in CInematheque’s digital archives exhibitions; but in some many cases, these efforts were inconclusive. If you feel that you are the author, creator or copyright holder of any item in Cinematheque’s online collections please contact Cinematheque staff at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss proper attribution or confirm permission to publish.
Cinematheque Archives Staff
Cinematheque Director: Steve Polta
Cinematheque Archives Manager: Megan Needels
Other Cinema/Avant to Live! Digital Archives Catalogers: Karissa Hahn; Lulu Zilinskas
Other Cinema/Avant to Live! Scanner Extraordinaire: Courtney Fellion
Cinematheque Administrative Associate: India Nemer
Cinematheque Board Advisor: Michael Campos-Quinn