Nitrate Film Collection


The nitrate film collection, encompassing footage from 1896 through the 1950s, contains some of the oldest materials in the FAA’s holdings. All 35mm films made prior to 1950 were shot on nitrate stock, a highly combustible and chemically unstable substance that is extremely vulnerable to deterioration. Failure to address decay ultimately results in film reels being reduced to a fine powder. To ensure the long-term preservation of this part of the cinematic heritage, nitrate films have to be copied to safety-film, i.e. transferred to more robust materials such as polyester.


As numerous studies have made clear, an adequate archival of nitrate stock is of the utmost importance. Having looked deeply into this matter, the FAA came up with a concept for a new nitrate film repository in Laxenburg that draws on the most advanced scientific research. The new repository, which opened in 2010 and incorporates the most innovative architecture and advanced in-house technology, has become an international showcase project,. Thanks to optimal climatic conditions the aging process is substantially slowed down.


Currently, nearly 40,000 reels of nitrate film are stored in the Laxenburg repository, which has an overall capacity of 70,000 reels.

The restoration of nitrate films is a race against time which Film Archive Austria is doing everything in its power to win. Restorations and copies of nitrate film originals are screened regularly at the METRO Kulturhaus.


Dr. Nikolaus Wostry
+43 (0)1 216 13 00 – 215