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July 28, 2022 34 min

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.

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.

To stream some of the films we've covered on the podcast, check out the collection Featured on the MUBI Podcast. Availability of films varies depending on your country.

MUBI is a global streaming service, production company and film distributor. A place to discover and watch beautiful, interesting, incredible films. A new hand-picked film arrives on MUBI, every single day. Cinema from across the world. From iconic directors, to emerging auteurs. All carefully chosen by MUBI’s curators.

And with MUBI GO, members in select countries can get a hand-picked cinema ticket every single week, to see the best new films in real cinemas. To learn more, visit

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