The case, which was being tried at the Créteil court in the Paris suburbs this week, concerned a tragic fire in August 2020, when he was storing nitrate rollers in the basement of an eight-storey apartment building on the outskirts of Paris. Caught on fire during a heat wave.
One person living directly above the site of the fire was burned while another person died when he tried to jump to safety from the fourth floor. The building was relatively empty at that time because it was the height of the summer holidays.
Bromberg, who was tried for involuntary manslaughter and injury as well as endangerment of others, took full responsibility for the tragedy at trial.
“I would like to say that I am the only person responsible for this drama. Bromberg has been reported to have told the court by local media. “I am inexcusable and I dare not ask for forgiveness.”
Bromberg was the artistic director of the Annecy International Animated Film Festival from 1999 to 2012, but after leaving that role he devoted himself to the restoration and distribution of old films under the banner of Lobster movieswhich he established in 1985.
He is a respected figure in the film restoration and classic film festival scene. Paris-based Lobster Films, in association with Eric Lange, employs a team of around 25 people and has a library of 50,000 vintage films, made up of more than 210,00 reels of film.
Prosecutor Missiva Chermak-Felonneau stated that Bromberg stored his personal film reels as well as those of Lobster Films in an under-construction storage space in Vincennes on the eastern edge of Paris, without permission.
Old nitrate film rolls are known to be flammable and should be stored in a place under refrigerated conditions. Fires involving nitrate film rollers are difficult to extinguish and release highly toxic gases. As a film restorer, Bromberg was aware of the dangers of nitrate film reels, Chermak-Filono said.
She said the air conditioning in the Bromberg storage space broke in 1998 after neighbors complained about the noise. She added that the place was not equipped with a fire alarm and that the firewall had been dismantled immediately after the fire broke out.
Investigators estimated that between 1,364 and 1,953 bobbins were stored at the site at the time of the fire. Bromberg told the trial that there were exactly 965 reels.
He said the space was used as a place to keep a few reels meant for her FranceThe National Cinema Center (CNC), which is to be restored and preserved under cinema preservation programs, but there has been a delay in delivery.
The attorney general asked why Bromberg had not thought of storing the reels in a remote location, and said that the fire and the tragic deaths resulted entirely from his failure to comply with the rules regarding storage of old film reels.
As part of the French judicial process, it requested a four-year prison sentence, suspended, and a fine of $150,000 (€150,000) for the lobster movie.
The judge will issue a final ruling on the sentence in January 2023.
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