Former Annecy Director Serge Bromberg Faces Prison Term for Involvement in Film Reel Fire

Former artistic director of Annecy Intl. Animation Festival Serge Bromberg is facing a four-year sentence (three of them suspended)  for involuntary manslaughter. The well-respected film restorer is on trial at the Court of Creteil (near Paris) due to his involvement in a deadly fire which killed two people in the August of 2020 during a heatwave. The fire was a result of Bromberg storing nitrate film reels in the basement of an eight-story apartment located in the outskirts of Paris. The final judgment of the sentencing is due in January of 2023.

Bromberg was tried in charges of committing involuntary manslaughter and injury as well as endangering the lives of others. He told the court, “I would like to say that I am the sole person responsible for this drama. It is my fault and exclusively my fault. I am unforgivable and I hardly dare ask for forgiveness.”

Bromberg served as artistic director of the Annecy International Animation Film Festival from 1999 to 2012. He is also well known for the work he has done in restoration and distribution of vintage films (under his Lobster Films banner). Lobster films holds a library of 50,000 vintage films, with over 210,000 film reels.

According to the prosecution, Bromberg had stocked his personal film reels as well as those of Lobster Films in a storage space under building in the Vincennes area on the eastern edge of Paris, without authorization. Investigators noted that between 1,364 to 1,953 reels were being stored in the space at the time of the tragic fire. However, Bromberg told the trial there had been precisely 965 reels. He said the space was used as a temporary holding location for a few reels, which were headed for France’s National Cinema Center to be restored and preserved.

Sources: Deadline.com, Agence France Presse

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