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Vatican Film Library

The Vatican Film Library possesses a patrimony of filmed material on the history of the Church, starting with the document of 1896, “Pope Leo XIII in the Vatican Gardens”. The archive contains about 8,000 titles, supported in acetate, magnetic and digital formats, all from various donations. In addition to the historical documents, the Vatican Film Library also conserves the “Joye Foundation” (Fondo Joye), a collection of films that date back to the beginnings of cinema, including "L'Inferno" of 1911. There are also other documentaries on art, culture and current affairs, and commercial films of artistic value and worthy of note. Some of these most representative materials are in great demand from film libraries around the world for their festivals and film retrospectives.

In order to preserve the cinematographic materials in the formats 16 and 35 mm., a special storage deposit has been realized with optimal air-conditioned environments, between 14° and 18° Celsius, and humidity at around 35%, in accordance with the indications of the FIAF (International Federation of Film Archives - of which the Vatican Film Library is also a member.

The Vatican Film Library also has a projection room that can accommodate about 54 people, renovated in 2005, where numerous film previews and events take place. This room is located in Vatican City, near Palazzo San Carlo, and adjacent to this is the cellar that houses all the films.

Since 1997, with the Fondazione Ente dello Spettacolo and the Pontifical Council for Culture, the Vatican Film Library has participated in the organization of the Tertio Millennio Festival, which takes place in Rome in December and involves Catholics, Waldensians, Protestants, Orthodox, Jews and Muslims. This interreligious festival is an opportunity to renew the dialogue between cultures, through the immediacy of the language of cinema

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On 16 November 1959 Pope John XXIII instituted the Vatican Film library with the aim of collecting and preserving films and recordings of television programmes on the life of the Church.

The Vatican Film Library was entrusted to the then Pontifical Commission for Cinematography, which in 1964 became the Pontifical Commission for Social Communications and in 1988 the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Today the Vatican Film Library is part of the Dicastery for Communication.

The first 600 titles have been catalogued manually in a handwritten logbook, stored in a closet, but computerized cataloguing was introduced in 1990. In the same year an air-conditioned storage cellar was created for the preservation of films, along with a small study centre for the consultation of printed and audiovisual material.

The projection hall, adjacent to the Palazzo San Carlo and with equipment from the Cinemeccanica Company, was restructured in 2005, with the creation of another second cellar behind the screen.

This room hosted Pope John Paul II on several occasions, along with numerous directors presenting a preview of their works, including Liliana Cavani, Roberto Benigni and Martin Scorsese.

For the 50th anniversary of the Vatican Film Library, a documentary was made using the images in the archive, entitled "La Filmoteca Vaticana, Immagini del Concilio Vaticano II” (“The Vatican Film Library, Images of Vatican Council II”). The main theme of the narrative was the link between the Film Library and Vatican Council II, which was announced by Pope John XXIII in January 1959, the same year as the founding of the archive. To make the documentary more than 100 hours of filmed material on the Second Vatican Council was selected, highlighting the contemplation of the Universal Church faced with the spirit of a new era, with the prospect of detailed communication offering the possibility of reaching all Christians.


Office: Via della Conciliazione 5, 00120 Vatican City

Telephone: +39 06 698 91800