Wednesday–Friday, 1–5 PM, or by appointment; to schedule, call (510) 642-1437.
Wednesday–Friday, 1–5 PM
Users do NOT need an admission ticket to access the Film Library and Study Center or to view digitized works in drop-in carrels. There is a fee for research screenings. View the fee schedule.
A great resource for anyone interested in film and film culture, the BAMPFA Film Library and Study Center is open for anyone to come by and browse through a movie magazine from last week or last century; read books on film history, theory, and criticism; skim through a collection of rare ephemera, press kits, and reviews; access scholarly research databases; listen to hundreds of recordings of Q&A’s with filmmakers and other guests at BAMPFA screenings; or screen something from BAMPFA’s collection of more than 17,000 films and videos. Viewing carrels offer drop-in access to hundreds of digitized film and video titles, while films and videos from our vault are generally available for research viewing with several weeks’ advance notice.
The Film Library and Study Center provides research access to BAMPFA’s collection of over 17,000 films and videos. All of the titles are stored off site in a climate-controlled vault for preservation purposes. Viewings must be scheduled at least two weeks in advance to give staff enough time to retrieve, inspect, and prepare the work; some titles may unfortunately be too rare or fragile to be screened. To search the collection, visit oskicat.berkeley.edu and limit your search to the Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive.
BAMPFA is home to the largest collection of Japanese films outside of Japan, as well as impressive gatherings of Soviet silents, West Coast independent and avant-garde cinema, seminal video art, the innovative work of video collectives TVTV (Top Value Television) and Optic Nerve, rare animation, Eastern European and Central Asian productions, and international classics. American experimental pioneers such as Bruce Conner, Chick Strand, and Ant Farm share the archive’s shelves with international past masters Sergei Eisenstein and Kenji Mizoguchi.
The film library offers two small viewing rooms, each with space for one or two researchers to view items from the collection, while larger groups such as classes may reserve our 33-seat Theater 2. Theater 2 is limited to screening 16mm, DVD/Blu-ray, and digitized formats only. (35mm can only be seen in our viewing rooms.) Research screening hours are Wednesday through Friday from 1 to 5 PM only. Call the film library at (510) 642-1437 for more details. Fees apply; view the fee schedule.
Several hundred titles from our collection have been made available in digital form, and can be viewed on a drop-in basis in one of our two viewing carrels. Viewings are first-come, first-served, with no charge. Headphones are provided.
The film library has one of the largest film-specific collections of books and magazines open to the general public in Northern California, with more than 10,000 books on cinema history, theory, and criticism and nearly 150 different film journals. Read up on national cinemas from Argentina to Zimbabwe; topics from architecture in film to the Western; individual directors, studios, and film movements; screenwriting, archiving, or cinematography. In addition to film magazines such as Sight & Sound, Film Comment, and Cinema Scope, the library also includes rare holdings of early silent film magazines, a large run of the Cuban revolutionary journal Cine Cubano, and many Japanese film fan magazines from the 1950s and 1960s.
In addition to its collection of published screenplays, the library has hundreds of unpublished scripts, including both American and international works, most dating from the 1970s and 1980s. Highlights include working drafts for films by Bay Area filmmakers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Wayne Wang, and shooting scripts for films ranging from Casablanca to Back to the Future.
One of the library’s most historically important—and entertaining—holdings is its collection of exhibitor manuals from the 1940s and 1950s, and international press kits from the 1960s to today. The exhibitor manuals were designed to aid theater operators in marketing and exploiting films, and give an interesting window into the promotional practices of the period. Many of them can be viewed in BAMPFA’s film-related document database, CineFiles.
The library’s most distinctive collection comprises more than 125,000 files on individual films and filmmakers, which are filled with newspaper reviews, journal articles, film festival program notes, press kits, and other documents from BAMPFA’s extensive collection covering world cinema, past and present. Many of the documents are from out-of-print magazines or smaller festivals and publications that are unavailable elsewhere. More than 55,000 documents have been scanned and indexed and can be accessed online through CineFiles, our film-related document database. If you can’t find an article in our documentation files, the film library also provides access to multiple research and academic databases at no charge.
The library collects film festival catalogs and film archive exhibition programs from all over the world. The collection is strongest in programs produced since the 1970s, with some programs dating from the 1950s. Cannes, Berlin, Sundance, Rotterdam, and Hong Kong are a few of the festivals represented, as well as archival screening venues such as TIFFCinematheque, Harvard Film Archive, and the Hong Kong Film Archive. The festival files also hold many rare calendars from local film theaters and revival houses, including the Berkeley Cinema Guild, the Castro, Roxie, and UC Theaters. The film library also boasts a large collection of international film yearbooks and marketing paraphernalia from the 1960s to today.
Due to size and fragility, all of our over 55,000 film stills and 10,000 posters are stored off site. They can be consulted by appointment, and some have been digitized for browsing convenience. The library’s large poster collection contains items ranging from the early 1900s to the present day. Of particular note are several thousand original half-sheet posters from the 1940s through 1950s promoting American genre films. The collection is also strong in international posters from the 1960s, as well as many recent features.
The film library has more than 1,600 cassette tapes made between 1975 and 2006 that document filmmakers’ visits to BAMPFA. Stored off site, these important historical recordings can be listened to in the library with two weeks’ advance notice, at no cost. Our recordings from 2006 onward were made digitally and may be accessed on a drop-in basis during library open hours. The library cannot make copies of these recordings unless given prior permission by the filmmaker recorded. We are currently working on a project to digitize 750 cassettes made between 1975 and 1985 and make them available online and on site, with permissions from the speakers. These will be available in late 2019.
The library has several archival collections representing the papers of individuals and organizations, including Bay Area experimental film and video collectives, individual filmmakers, and film distributors. Many additional film-related special collections are held at UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library.