For the first half-century of cinema, most movies were made and printed on nitrate film. Problem: it easily decomposes, it's easily combustible, and once it's on fire, you can't put it out. Only a few theaters on Earth can safely screen nitrate prints...and only one has an annual festival dedicated to the format: The George Eastman Museum's Dryden Theatre in Rochester, New York, with its Nitrate Picture Show.
To understand why it's important to screen these original treasures in an age of digital—and the incredible effort it takes to pull it off—Rico Gagliano travels both sides of the Atlantic, from the Dryden's fortified projection booth to the British Film Institute's nitrate holding vaults.
The second season of the MUBI Podcast titled “Only in Theaters” tells surprising stories of individual cinemas that had huge impacts on film history, and in some cases, history in general.
Listen to episode 5 below or wherever you get your podcasts:
After listening, check out our coverage of the sixth annual Nitrate Picture Show, which took place earlier this month. Read Joshua Bogatin’s article on this year’s edition here.