the struggle paid off for the most alternative cinema in Paris

the struggle paid off for the most alternative cinema in Paris
the struggle paid off for the most alternative cinema in Paris

The “La Clef Revival” collective, supported by big names in cinema, including Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, announced that it had signed the purchase of the place threatened with closure for a total of 2.7 million euros.

The friends of La Clef, the last associative cinema in Paris, were able to buy back with the support of big names in the seventh art like Martin Scorsese, the walls of this alternative mecca, born in the movement of May 1968, offering him the hope of ‘a new life.

The “La Clef Revival” collective announced on Wednesday that it had signed the purchase of the cinema, for a total of 2.7 million euros. The culmination of a six-year series, for one of the rare alternative and independent cultural places to survive in the heart of a Latin Quarter where the intellectual ferment of the 1970s has gradually given way to real estate speculation. And a symbol for the City of Lights, champion in the number of cinemas per inhabitant, a week after the closure of the UGC Normandie on the Champs-Élysées.

Away from the main circuits, La Clef has carved out a special place for itself by offering visibility to African, Asian or South American filmmakers rarely programmed elsewhere. And intends to remain an activist cinema, unlike any other, “place for showing rare films”. Those “whoever wishes can join the collective (of users), learn how to organize a screening and submit a film”promise the buyers, who have concluded an agreement with the CNC (National Center for Cinema and Animated Images) to legalize their practice, unusual in the world of cinema, of free price screenings.

Read alsoLa Clef arthouse cinema hopes to reopen in fall 2024

A complex arrangement inspired by the cooperative economy, with a specialized land company and two colleges of administrators should make it possible to “sustainably remove the La Clef cinema from the real estate market”, and to ensure its long-term independence. Occupations, political standoffs, petitions: the mobilization of friends of La Clef, who were able to unite around them the elite of French auteur cinema, from Olivier Assayas to Agnès Jaoui via Noémie Lvovsky, ended up pay.

“Zipper opening”

More than once in the last six years, since the Social and Economic Council (CSE) of the Caisse d’Épargne Île-de-France, owner of the walls, decided to sell the premises, the cause has seemed desperate. Former employees of the theater, surrounded by moviegoers, led the revolt, refusing the sale and ending up occupying the premises. Their mobilization triumphed over internal dissensions, confinements, expulsion by the police and court summons. They had even blocked a project to take over the SOS group, one of the largest associations in the social and solidarity economy, which was ready to devote 4.2 million euros to it, fearing that it would open the door to speculation and cinema loses its soul.

During his fight, La Clef even received the support of Martin Scorsese, who last year released a video and a forum in Release to support the recovery of the room. “The story of La Clef must be preserved all the more preciously because it was brought back to life by people who came together for the love of cinema and the freedom that comes from it. La Clef must remain a cinema.”proclaimed the Hollywood legend.

In total, the friends of La Clef were able to raise two million euros in donations: 400,000 euros thanks to a crowdfunding campaign bringing together 5,000 donors, including filmmakers Leos Carax, Céline Sciamma and Mathieu Amalric. A sale of works of art at the Palais de Tokyo, to which David Lynch notably contributed, was also organized.

The buyers also thank their patrons, citing La Caisse d’Épargne, Cédric Klapisch and even Quentin Tarantino. The obstacle course is not over, however. After one “zip opening” of four days from June 27, the place with its dilapidated walls and tired seats must still raise 600,000 euros for work to bring it up to mandatory standards, supposed to last a year.

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