Tomās Mallol: Biography

Tomās Mallol (b. Sant Pere Pescador, 1923 – Girona, 2013) has always been a film buff. When he was a boy, the travelling film shows that came to his village made a deep impression on him, which became a permanent passion for everything related to the world of the cinema. Above all he was interested in the technical aspects (optics, lighting, the film feed mechanism), so much so that when he was eight he built his first projector with which he entertained his friends and relatives, and which is now part of the collection.

After the Spanish Civil War, having qualified as an industrial technician he went to live in Barcelona, where he worked in various jobs. Finally, it was as a photographer and publicist that he shaped his professional profile.

Married with two daughters, for many years he lived between Barcelona and Torroella de Fluviā (Alt Empordā). In those years, as a member of the Catalan Ramblers' Association's photography club, he made contact with several people with whom he shared an interest in photography and amateur filmmaking.

In 1956, Tomās Mallol made his first amateur film, El pastor de Can Sopa, and a first and only foray into professional filmmaking as director of photography in the Spanish-Italian co-production Su propio destino. He gave up professional filmmaking because of the subordination and servitude that came with it, which had little to do with the film's artistic criteria, and he decided to continue as an amateur filmmaker, founding the UCA (Amateur Filmmakers' Union), based in Barcelona.

For 20 years, until 1977, Tomās Mallol made 31 short films, which won him several international amateur film prizes. The films of Tomās Mallol are characterized by their formal perfectionism, by the slow pace of the images and, in short, by his obsession for space and time. L'Empordā (1957), Mástiles (1963), Instante (1967), Daguerre i jo (1969), Poca cosa sabem (1972), Negre i vermell (1973) o Homenatge (1975) are some of his most emblematic titles.

In the mid 1960s, at the same time and as a consequence of his activity as an amateur filmmaker, he collected several narrow-gauge cameras, not initially with the idea of collecting them. Years later, after reading C.W. Ceram's book Archaeology of the Cinema, he decided to focus his collection on the archaeology of the cinema, without abandoning the amateur or children's film devices. Tomās Mallol then began his intense study and research of objects that led him, for over 30 years, to build up a collection of pre-cinema and early cinema objects and devices.

Acquired by Girona City Council in January 1994 to form the basis of the Museum of Cinema, the Tomās Mallol Collection is considered the most important collection of pre-cinema and early cinema devices in Spain, and one of the most important in Europe. That same year, in conjunction with Girona City Council, he established the Museum of Cinema-Tomās Mallol Collection Foundation, of which he is the honorary president, with the aim of managing the future Museum of Cinema. The Museum of Cinema-Tomās Mallol Collection opened in Girona on 8th April 1998. Since then, Tomās Mallol has received numerous acknowledgements for his work promoting the cinema, among which are the Creu de Sant Jordi (St. George's Cross) from the Government of Catalonia or the nomination as honourable member of the Spanish Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In 2005 he published his memoirs, entitled Si la memōria no em falla (If My Memory Serves Me Well).

Tomās Mallol died in Girona on June 16, 2013 (89 years old). He leaves a legacy of an extraordinary collection on the prehistory and origins of cinema, which significantly enriches the cinematic heritage of our country. This collection will be an important tool for current and future generations to know and understand the origins of our media culture.

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