Parisian cinema La Clef loses a battle

The fate of the La Clef cinema, located in the 5e arrondissement of Paris, and threatened with a cessation of its activity since 2018, seems sealed. From February 19, it will officially become the property of the SOS Group, the leading French group working in the social and solidarity economy, which has bought the premises from its former owner, the Savings Bank.

→ MAINTENANCE. Alberto Barbera: “We must fight to save the cinemas”

The mayor of Paris, which officially had until February 19 to preempt the premises, rejected this possibility, Thursday February 4 in the Council of Paris, despite the wish expressed by part of its majority and by the citizen collective that has occupied the premises since a year and a half to defend the activity of the last associative cinema in Paris.

Paris city hall in favor of mediation

The wish expressed in this direction by environmentalists, communists and elected officials of the Generation group was not defended by the Parisian executive, which had nevertheless committed during the municipal campaign to do everything to save this cinema. Anne Hidalgo’s cultural assistant, Carine Rolland, justified this decision by both legal and financial impossibility. We have always said that we consider the activity of the Clef to be important and that it should be maintained, but not just anyhow , she explained, calling for a dialogue to be initiated between the buyer “Who is committed to maintaining the activity” and the Home Cinema collective.

And this is where the shoe pinches. A first mediation meeting between the two parties organized in January was quickly cut short. “There is an incompatibility between our two approaches”, explains one of the spokesperson of the collective who regrets the disengagement of the public authorities in this file and strongly doubts the intentions of a group of this size in the cultural field. “For us, it is above all a real estate transaction which allows them to have 800 m2 in the Ve borough at a good price “, he continues.

An emblematic place

The SOS group, led by Jean-Marc Borello, a very close friend of Emmanuel Macron defends himself and stressed that it was the collective itself which requested it last August to consider taking over the premises. . The group argued, in a press release, a first experience in the field with the management of an independent cinema, Commune Image, in Saint-Ouen (Seine-Saint-Denis) and claims to have guaranteed the collective “The total independence of its artistic direction and its programming”. Commitments that were obviously not enough to convince the collective which now fears, as soon as the sale is final, an eviction from this emblematic place.

Created in the 1970s by an enthusiast, this art house cinema, which has two screens of 120 and 65 seats, ceased its activity for the first time in 1981. Acquired by the works council of the Caisse d ‘ savings, its management was entrusted in the 1990s to an association that provided a unique program of films from Africa or South America.

It closed definitively in July 2018, the owner wishing to sell the premises, and following the failure of an attempted takeover by his employees, has been occupied since September 2019 by a collective of cinephiles who continue to keep it alive. relying on around thirty volunteers.


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