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A Season of Classic Films: bringing European classics closer to people

After the success in 2019 with more than 15.000 people participating, ‘A Season of Classic Films’ is back in 2020 for its second edition.

Led this year by the Association des Cinémathèques Européennes (ACE) with the funding of the European Commission under the cross-sectoral strand of Creative Europe programme, this initiative will be presented on 15 October at the Festival Lumière in Lyon. The festival, focusing on the history of cinema, will host a special afternoon around ‘Europe and Heritage’ where representatives of the Commission and ACE will explain the details of the outreach project and other policies and trends to keep supporting and modernising European film heritage.

The second edition of ‘A Season of Classic Films’ will consist of a series of free screenings planned between December 2020 and June 2021 across Europe to raise awareness of the work of European national and regional film archives, especially among young adults. Most of the films are new digitalis restorations and some include exciting elements such as experimental electronic music or augmented reality. With 22 participating institutions, this initiative particularly aims to support the reopening of European film archives, all affected by the Covid19 crisis. 

In the same context, on 27 October, a catalogue of classic films curated by the European film archives in a joint effort will be published to celebrate the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage. It will be available for the general public and it aims to be inspirational for film festival programmers around the world.  

The screenings are an opportunity to bring European cinema closer to citizens and to highlight the importance of restoration and digitisation, film education and training, and the need for greater visibility and preservation of Europe’s rich film heritage.

More information on ACE's website.


In the recent years, the European Commission has supported several initiatives for the preservation and the exhibition of film heritage. In the summer of 2019, the first Season of Classic Films took place: European film classics were screened in some of Europe’s most iconic cultural heritage venues. Classic films from across the EU were screened free of charge in a wide variety of venues in 13 EU countries – from small towns to capital cities – highlighting Europe’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. At the launch of the first Season of Classics Commissioner Tibor Navracsics, in charge of Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, said: “European cultural heritage, including our great film classics, should be accessible to everyone. I am pleased to see that the Season of Classic Films makes it possible for everyone interested to be part of an experience shared across Europe, even when attending a local event.”

Moreover, in 2019 the European Commission funded several restoration and digitisation projects, such as the digitisation of 50 films from the Mutoscope and Biograph Collection preserved in the archives of the British Film Institute and Eye Filmmuseum. Most of these unique films were made in Europe between 1897 and 1902 and feature rare images from Venice, Berlin, Amsterdam and London from 120 years ago.