Jewels on reels

Frank Becker has the largest private film archive in Nordrhein-Westphalia

In his storerooms around 60,000 rolls of film lie slumbering alongside more than 10,000 audio tapes, 15,000 records and 10,000 CDs – Frank Becker has turned his hobby into a career. He has archived, restored and digitized films, including gems such silent films from Dr. Oetker from the '20s or “Skeleton Dance ", the first film with sound by Walt Disney. The oldest film in Becker's archive is a Deulig newsreel from 1912. Works include 13 episodes of the television series "Curd Jürgens erzählt" which were in 1960 by the “Freie Fernseh Gesellschaft” (Free TV Company) owned by Konrad Adenauer and because the transmitter was out of order, were never transmitted.

Frank Becker has acquired extensive know-how over the last 40 years. His film reels are stored in three archives with a total area of 1,000 square meters, where the material is stored optimally at less than ten degrees Celsius and with high humidity. In 2011 he founded the Frank Becker Foundation, whose purpose is to "keep the origin and the development of cinema culture alive and to carry out archival and cultural tasks to accomplish that purpose."

He receives almost daily calls from television editors or DVD producers who are looking for historical recordings for reports or documentaries and borrow them from him, Becker's archive has a distinguished name in the film and television industry. The Bielefeld resident also digitizes the in-house archives of businesses and corporations, such as Dr. Oetker AG. Just recently the TV station ARTE from Strasbourg produced a documentary about "Bahnhofskino in Germany" in the MAB Studio in Brackwede, which made use of footage from the Brackwerder archive.

In 1998, Frank Becker fulfilled a childhood dream and opened the "Melody movie theatre" with 628 seats, in a Bielefeld High School. Its special attraction is that the newsreel from exactly 30 years ago is shown before each film – even now this is unique in Germany.

Photo: Sandra Sánchez

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