A division of Harvard Library, the Harvard Film Archive is dedicated to the collection, preservation and exhibition of film. It maintains an extensive archive of over 40,000 motion picture prints, audio visual elements and ephemera from around the world and from almost every period in film history. Located in the historic Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts on the Harvard University campus, the HFA cinematheque is renowned for its diverse programming of films which—due to age, rarity, challenging content or format—are not screened regularly or often even available for viewing at all. Further enhancing the cinematic experience, the HFA regularly invites filmmakers to discuss their work after screenings. The 188-seat theater accommodates DCP, 35mm, 16mm, Super 8 and all variety of video formats.

  • Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, ca. 1963

With a focus on deep engagement, the HFA frequently invites film directors and artists to discuss their work with the vibrant community of students, professors, artists and cinephiles. Recent visitors include legendary independent filmmakers Wim Wenders, Agnès Varda, Terence Davies, Guy Maddin, Billy Woodberry and Frederick Wiseman; younger artists such as Ryusuke Hamaguchi, Lav Diaz, Alice Rohrwacher, Anocha Suwichakornpong, Matías Piñeiro, Athina Rachel Tsangari, Federico Veiroj and Sofia Coppola; avant-garde filmmakers Jonas Mekas, Jodie Mack, Jem Cohen, Nathaniel Dorsky, Luther Price and Saul Levine; as well as special guests such as actress Pam Grier and Japanese benshi Ichiro Kataoka. Some of the HFA's recent programs include retrospectives of the work of Luchino Visconti, Robert Altman, Jean Epstein, Chantal Akerman, Seijun Suzuki, Chick Strand, Maurice Pialat, Ernst Lubitsch and William Wellman, as well as surveys such as Five O’Clock Shadow; Synaesthetic Cinema: Minimalist Music and Film; and Poets of Pandaemonium: The Cinema of Humphrey Jennings and Derek Jarman. Ongoing series include our annual movie marathons and the monthly Weekend Matinee and Cinema of Resistance screenings.

HFA programs dating back to 1999 are browsable, and some of the visiting filmmaker discussions are archived and available as audio files within the program descriptions.

  • Photo courtesy John Quackenbush.

The Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts also houses Harvard's undergraduate program of Art, Film, and Visual Studies studios and classrooms, public art galleries and art bookshop. With the exception of the studio spaces, visitors are welcome to explore the building, Public spaces include Level 1, Level 3, the Bookshop and Sert Gallery, and all building exterior spaces.

The Archive is extremely grateful to June Yip, AB '85, and David Wong, AB '85, for their generous support of the Harvard Film Archive's ongoing visiting filmmaker program. Thanks to their generosity the Archive is able to continue inviting filmmakers, artists and scholars to present their work at the HFA and interact with the Harvard film community.

Current Programs