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The Film Preservation Studies focuses on the theoretical and practical training  in the identification, classification, restoration and preservation of our cinematic and audio-visual heritage

The course poses the (theoretical, technical and ethical) dilemmas for students that cinema raises as a material and immaterial heritage. As well as tackling all those aspects related to identifying images and sounds on photochemical, magnetic and digital media, the speciality provides the tools for managing existing collections and creating new ones. The course also provides access to protocols and procedures for revising and restoring materials, using both mechanical and digital tools, which offers genuine practical experience in the laboratory.

Film Preservation studies are carried out in constant interaction with the work at the Basque Film Archive, which provides students with a real-life experience with a film archive officially certified by the FIAF.

Clara Sánchez-Dehesa
Coordinator of the Department of Film Preservation Studies

Clara Sánchez-Dehesa Galán is a specialist in the conservation and restoration of audio-visual material after studying at the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation, New York, where she received The Hague Film scholarship 2011, and in audio-visual heritage through a Master’s degree from the Complutense University in Madrid. She has carried out her work as a conservator in various projects in both Spain and in Bolivia, the USA and Mexico and has taken an active part in the development of the Home Movie Network, an association that she is currently the president of, where her current projects to restore and disseminate home movies and amateur cinema are included.

“Film materials are not just a mere medium. Their relationship with the work is much closer than what current digitalisation policies show. Understanding this relationship and learning about the materials and their wear and tear in depth is vital to be able to make decisions about their conservation. The technical skills and the correct use of technologies linked with each type of medium are vital for working with our audio-visual heritage.

In the FIlm Preservation area we are going to develop all these qualities through theory, practice and the experience of professionals. The ultimate aim is to ensure that students are able to face up to the dilemmas raised by audio-visual conservation using well-founded criteria”.


Clara Sánchez-Dehesa

Restoration and preservation of our cinematic and audio-visual heritage


  Module 1 Module 2 Module 3 Module 4 Module 5

Core subjects

The map of the (three) archives History of the materiality of cinema The filmmaker's thinking: practice and theory The sound point of view The spectator-filmmaker

Module details

Basic concepts for an insight into audiovisual conservation. Materiality of cinema Cinema
Processes of
and restoration
Procedures for
audiovisual archives

Main subjects

Introduction to cinematographic heritage: philosophy, concepts and dilemmas  Photochemical Lab Deterioration and
conservation of
photochemical material
Management and
treatment of Complex

Restoration of sound

  Identification and
management of video
and audio collections
inspection &
description of
photochemical material
Deterioration and
conservation of
magnetic material
Digitisation processes.
Digital treatment of

Conservation and
storage of audiovisual

    Materiality of images Documentation and

Film restoration


Digital preservation

Meeting, optative subjects and other events

Histories of cinema 


Critique and analysis

Histories of cinema 


Critique and analysis

Histories of cinema 


Critique and analysis

Histories of cinema 


Critique and analysis

Histories of cinema 


Critique and analysis

Tabakalera programme          


Common Subjects

  • The map of the (three) archives

    The cinematographic and audio-visual archive is today a vast and extensive territory that demands the attention of research, conservation and creation professionals. It is by no means a static storage area, but rather a territory which, depending on why it is approached, offers different readings and possibilities of intervention. The subject poses the possibility that students of EQZE assume their role (creator, researcher, curator) as an exploration of the cinematographic and audio-visual memory.

  • History of the materiality of cinema

    There are as many cinemas as (not only optical but also haptic) materialities of cinema. This subject proposes an approach to the filmmaker based on his/her materiality to unravel not only the most relevant technological milestones, but also the ways in which the materiality of the image has contributed to generate specific artistic discourses. The subject will focus initially on the materiality (resolution, texture, colour) of the sensitive photochemical material and then progressively look at other magnetic and digital types of audio-visual media.

  • The filmmaker's thinking: practice and theory

    An approach to the theory of creation by filmmakers before or after their films: as a film project or as a reflection on the work itself. In all cases, the theory of filmmakers seeks an approach to the fundamental aesthetic dilemmas of the medium and a reading of cinematographic thinking away from traditional methodologies. Accordingly, the subject also looks at purely intuitive and non-reflective approaches, contrary to the rationalization of creation.

  • The sound point of view

    Analysis of sound in cinema, looking for connections with other contemporary manifestations of sound, such as music and art, but also with the sound dimension of everyday life.

  • No more films

    In a world in which our visual palate is constantly being bombarded with an overdose of images, it is more urgent than ever to question the relevance of any new cinematographic production. What can we do to ensure that our efforts do not give rise to just ‘one more film’? Does our story/idea really need to be turned into a film, or would another artistic genre be more suitable? Based on disciplines outside the film world, such as literature or comic books, this workshop aims to analyse strategies for both inspiring a story and articulating its main thread, creating offerings rooted in highly personal experiences or autobiographies, or using a more literary approach.

  • Aesthetics of reception

    Thinking about cinema from reception does not imply doing so based on the box office results of a film or its audience, but rather on the role played by viewers in the complete meaning of any film. Their active or passive role, the place given to them in the film, the processes of identification and distance, the generation of estrangement and the mechanisms of emotion and empathy are all essential components of cinematographic creation examined in the subject. The subject questions all these matters because, in short, to think cinema from the point of view of reception means to assume that there is no filmmaker who is not, first and foremost, an active viewer.

  • Basque film: a cinematography with tradition, an emerging cinematography

    This course suggests an approach to Basque film. Beginning with an historical contextualization in order to provide the background of the birth and development of Basque film up to the present time, it will carry out a chronological and thematic review of the history of Basque film and will present the most notable Basque filmmakers from its origins to the present day, with particularly close attention to the three (or more) generations of Basque filmmakers who are currently active.

Itinerary subjects

  • Deterioration and conservation of photochemical material

    Chemical description of photochemical processing material, for an understanding of the processes of deterioration. Comprehension of these features and alterations enables plans to be made for repair and recovery work.

  • Deterioration and conservation of magnetic material

    Chemical description of magnetic processing materials, for an understanding of the processes of deterioration. Each kind of material has optimum long-term conservation conditions – these conditions are standardised, but students must know how to adapt to each specific case.

  • Documentation and cataloging

    One of the fundamental aspects of preserving any document is having access to it. Accurate cataloguing enables us to recover and access them. Extensive documentation enables us to learn about documents in greater depth and in their context. Both concepts are vital in any archive and collection.

  • Materiality of images

    A reflection on the shapes of images on the basis of their strict materiality. In this specific case, students will work with cinematographic material only (photochemical supports).

  • Identification an research into nitrate-based materials

    The key to conserving and presenting historical audiovisual documents is knowing what type of document you are dealing with. In order to restore films and present them to a contemporary audience, it is vital to first understand the materials and the context in which they were produced and circulated. This seminar aims to provide students with the necessary tools for identifying nitrate-based film materials, particularly those belonging to the silent movie period. Given the wide variety of different production techniques, this process of identification takes place within the framework of a broader research undertaking, linked to both the history of technology and an exploration of materiality and discourse.

  • Identification and management of magnetic collection

    Investigation and restoration of magnetic collections, and problems in terms of access and retrieval of information. Retrieval procedures for this kind of documents vary depending on the film material, and can be extremely complex.

  • Digital preservation

    Analysis of digital documents and the infrastructure needed to lay down a digital preservation strategy. Students will learn the theories and modern practices, and the access and conservation policies operated by various institutions.

  • Digitisation processes. Digital treatment of images

    Study of the digitisation of material on photochemical supports. This is a well-established process nowadays, although work flows vary considerably from one institution to another. Students will learn the basics of digitisation and the objectives sought in the case of archives. When the image has been digitised, they will have treatment practicals to adjust optical qualities to the requirements of each project.

  • The analog audio formats

    Individual and specific analysis of the restoration of sound in films. The sound factor in films has moved through some extremely different phases, and has appeared in a wide range of formats. Students will learn to distinguish between each of these, determine their conservation status, and implement recovery strategies.

  • Management of Complex Media

    Audio-visual documents are not exclusive to film libraries or film archives. Audio-visual work is a format or medium of expression that is extensively used in other fields such as art. Contemporary art museums contain audio-visual collections that combine a wide variety of formats and technologies, which require specific handling and management.

  • Film restoration

    This will address the complex world of film restoration, entailing a combination of knowledge and work over a wide range of disciplines in connection with audiovisual conservation. Students will learn how items to be restored are chosen, and the long process of a restoration project from the point of view of investigation. They will also study the range of market options nowadays to create the components of access and conservation.

  • Introduction to cinematographic heritage: philosophy, concepts and dilemmas

    Definition of basic concepts and the philosophy of audiovisual conservation. Developing a set of professional ethics is essential to address the dilemmas of a panorama as extensive and changeable as the audiovisual sector.

  • Conservation and long-term storage strategic for audiovisual collections

    The environmental conditions that surround any type of material are crucial for their long-term preservation. Audio-visual documents use a wide variety of materials as formats. Knowledge of the needs of each material and the management of storage conditions are essential for extending the life of collections.

  • Identification, inspection and description of photochemical material

    In-depth study of film production, the type of “material objects” that are created and their aesthetic qualities, for accurate identification of the material on photochemical supports. Students will learn to work with the tools and equipment required to handle and display these materials.

  • Photochemical lab

    This subject addresses photochemical material during the processing phase. Students must have knowledge of the treatments and chemical modifications the material undergoes in order to comprehend its aesthetic properties and deterioration. Material filmed in-house at the school will be processed.