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In Paris, the rebels of La Clef hope more than ever to afford their cinema

The La Clef cinema, in Paris, on February 19, 2021.

Will the utopia dreamed up by a handful of Parisian moviegoers come to fruition? The activists who occupied the La Clef cinema since 2019 may have been expelled at the beginning of March, but they hope more than ever to become owners of this old room in the Latin Quarter, and to transform it into an alternative place, escaping the usual logics of profitability. An optimism nourished by two messages received on Monday March 28. The first is signed Céline Sciamma. The director of Portrait of the girl on fire (2019) has agreed to join the board of directors of the fund created by the collective. The second message comes from the owner of the building. The social and economic committee of the Caisse d’épargne Ile-de-France says it is ready to discuss the takeover project refined by the “rebels”. A first, after two and a half years of conflict.

1er March, the battle led by the defenders of the last associative cinema in Paris seemed lost. That day, at dawn, the police surrounded the building on rue Daubenton (5and district) and evacuate the members of the collective present on the spot for 882 days. The owner won the case. Since April 2018, he had closed the room, with the idea of ​​​​selling it and realizing a nice added value… without imagining that a cohort of cinephiles and apprentice filmmakers, very attached to La Clef, were going to invest the place and show films there every day.

Read also The last session of the La Clef cinema, in Paris

Solution in the conflict

Opponents expelled, the owner can finally, on paper, sell the cinema, which he no longer wants. Except that the buyer with whom he had signed a promise, the SOS group, is no longer there. After agreeing to pay 4.2 million euros, then waiting months for the premises to be emptied to take control, he let go. In 2020, some activists had asked him to find a solution to their conflict, and the group had agreed to buy the walls while leaving the collective responsibility for programming.

Objective: keep the two rooms to present films rarely seen elsewhere, and create an associative café, an animation studio and two editing rooms

But since then, angry moviegoers have started spitting on SOS, “a group that has become hegemonic in the social and solidarity economy”. They blame his “clan governance”, the “radical restructuring” that he imposes on the associations he takes over, and criticize his boss, Jean-Marc Borello, a pillar of La République en Marche. Dissatisfied, Borello and his team gave up renewing the promise to purchase. “What happens at La Clef no longer concerns us”, now indicates the group.

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