What does the Film Archive do?

Films are collected, catalogued and safeguarded for the benefit of today and future audiences at the Film Archive. Find all the information you need about the Film Archive's activities below.

1. Receiving films

The DFI Film Archive receives films via legal deposit. This means all new Danish films that have been publicly screened. We also receive various collections from individuals, other public institutions, movements and associations, corporations, estates, embassies and people in the film industry.

When a feature film is no longer shown at cinemas, the Film Archive in many cases receives the used print. The Film Archive has amassed a large collection of both Danish features and international features with Danish subtitles. The introduction of digital cinemas is now putting an end to that practice and no agreement has yet been made regarding deposit of DCPs (Digital Cinema Packages).

2. Cataloguing

When a film arrives at the Film Archive, it is catalogued in our database, repacked, if necessary, and placed on a shelf in our climate-controlled archive. Prior to archiving, legally deposited films are carefully checked for scratches, blemishes or omissions.

Cataloguing the existing collection is also an ongoing task. The entire nitrate film collection has now been surveyed, that is, the collection of the oldest films from before 1950, which are kept in a remote depository, the Nitrate Archive near Hillerød, north of Copenhagen. We have also surveyed most of our collection of screening prints and are currently cataloguing the various collections that have been donated to the Archive.

Most Danish features, as well as selected Danish documentaries, can be searched in the Danish Film Database. If you do not find what you are looking for, please contact the Film Archive at filmarkivet@dfi.dk.

3. Readying

The readying process checks films for any damage, such as cracks or tears on the edges of the film, poor splices and other damage that may have occurred since the film was last screened. Perhaps new leaders need to be attached, cue marks made (small marks in the upper right-hand corner of the film telling the projectionist that it’s time to change the reel) or perhaps the film needs to be cleaned.

The Film Archive readies films for the following purposes:

Readying museum prints for cinemas

The reel-room staff readies films for screening in cinemas in Denmark and abroad. The Cinematheque and film-related educations are the primary borrowers of films from the Film Archive. Only members of FIAF can borrow prints from the DFI Film Archive.

Readying basis material for a production company or other rights holder

If, say, a production company wants to produce a DVD of an older Danish feature, and the Film Archive has the negatives, etc., for the film, these will be checked for damage before the film is sent to a scanning lab, where they are scanned as digital information that can be transferred to DVD.

Readying film clips

TV stations, journalists, scholars, directors and others at times want access to old film clips, often of documentary or historical interest. The Film Archive researches the collection and can assist in digitising film for footage sales. Please see the large collection of documentary footage available for viewing on danmarkpaafilm.dk. Please note that there’s a handling fee for digital elements.

4. Securing the collection

Analogue security

Analogue security means that the Film Archive has new material (either prints or negatives) produced for selected Danish film titles. If the existing film material is assessed to be unsuitable for long-term storage, new material is made on archival film, most often 35mm polyester film.

These security efforts are based in part on two lists of approx. 100 features and approx. 100 documentaries. The task of securing the 100 selected features has now been completed and we are securing the remaining half of the 100 documentaries.

See lists of films secured since 2003.

"Unsuitable for long-term storage" applies to material that is either physically deteriorated or whose technology or format could be a problem in terms of future playback. For many years, the top priority was on securing disintegrating and flammable nitrate films. But the spotlight is now on more recent technologies, such as A+B tapes and a number of obsolete tape formats, including U-matic.

Museum curator Thomas Christensen has overall responsibility for securing the collection.

Digital security

In 2010, the Danish Film Institute was awarded 6 million kroner (approx. 800,000 euros), via the so-called UMTS funds, to digitise Denmark’s cultural heritage. This project will concentrate on the video collection of shorts and documentaries from 1975 to 1990. Many shorts and documentaries in this period were recorded on video formats that today are obsolete. Some tapes deteriorate, making playback impossible. In other cases, the problem is playback devices that are hard to have repaired and for which spare parts are hard to find. 
As a first step, U-matic tapes and 1”C tapes have been transferred to new digital media.

5. Digitising

The Film Archives digitises many of the analogue 16mm and 35mm films on our shelves in connection with projects or on commission from clients. At present no comprehensive digitising of Danish films from A-Z has been initiated (apart from the UMTS project, mentioned under Digital security). So, even though we are continually digitising films, only a fraction of the collection has so far been converted into pixels.

Our new streaming site danmarkpaafilm.dk (Denmark on Film) opened in 2015 after also receiving funding from UMTS funds. In 2015 we received a special grant over four year from the government to digitise further amouts of documentary footage and a large number of documentary films produced by and for the Danish state.   

Practically all recent, digitised films from the Film Archive can be viewed at the Videotheque and some of the older titles on the Danish Film Database and on danmarkpaafilm.dk.


DFI Film Archive
Danish Film Institute 
Naverland 13-15 
2600 Glostrup 
Tel. +45 3374 3620

Mikael Braae  
Film Historian – Feature films
Tel. +45 3374 3629

Katrine Madsbjerg 
Historian – Short & documentary films
Tel. +45 3374 3631

Marianne Jerris 
Booking Manager & Secretary 
Tel. +45 3374 3620