Swiss cinema adapts to energy crisis

Cinémathèque Suisse has also developed scenarios to anticipate possible power cuts and enable it to continue its activities. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron

The Cinémathèque suisse film archive has closed its doors to the public on Mondays in an effort to save energy. Other measures are also be considered to reduce the impact of potential power cuts.

This content was published on January 14, 2023

As of January 1, Cinémathèque Suisse has not been holding public screenings on Mondays in a move it said was in response to the energy crisis and the efforts requested by both federal and local authorities to save electricity.

“The only action that could be taken quickly was to close the theatres for one day, which is the least severe measure for the public's enjoyment,” Frédéric Maire, director of Cinémathèque Suisse, told Swiss news agency Keystone-ATS. Monday was chosen because it is less frequented than other days. The measure is “on trial” and will last at least until the summer.

The closure is not only intended to reduce energy use during the day but also to avoid energy shortages at night, which is when films are downloaded ahead of screenings.

Planning for cuts

Cinémathèque Suisse has also developed scenarios to anticipate possible power cuts and enable it to continue its activities. Priority has been given to the “physical” film collections, which must be stored at a certain temperature and humidity level, as well as to the digital archives stored on different servers.

The film archive has 6,000 m2 of surface cooled to different degrees. While much of the archive is underground, there is a cooling cost.

Cinémathèque suisse has also commissioned a carbon footprint assessment of its locations in Lausanne, Penthaz and Zurich to identify ways to save electricity and use more renewable resources.

“The challenges are as great as the stakes: to ensure both the preservation of our cinematographic heritage and the future of our planet, for future generations,” wrote Cinémathèque in a press releaseExternal link on December 27.

Founded in 1948, the Cinémathèque suisse is recognised by the International Federation of Film Archives as one of the ten most prominent film archives in the world for the extent, diversity and quality of its collections. In addition to the 85,000 fiction and documentary films preserved, the Cinémathèque suisse’s holdings include thousands of hours of filmed material, the archives of the Swiss Ciné-Journal, as well as millions of posters, photographs, scripts, documentary files, books and periodicals, sets and film objects.

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