How cinemas still manage to circumvent the ban

This could be compared to a last-ditch fight against a government that stubbornly refuses to reopen places of culture because of the health crisis. While theater occupations are multiplying in France, now cinema directors follow suit and plan to show films to the public this weekend in twenty cinemas in France. Symbolic actions of course, but which seek to underline the absurdity of the situation, with disastrous economic consequences.

“The cinemas closed for the first time, a year ago. They reopened only between the two confinements and have a total of more than 240 days of closure,” recall the National Group of Research Cinemas (GNCR) and Acid (Association of Independent Cinema for its distribution). “The government says it wants to open discussions with a view to a gradual reopening, but nothing has been confirmed or materialized (…) The 15,000 employees of the operation can no longer exercise their activity”, underlined for its part the National Federation of French Cinemas (FNCF) in a message to operators.

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Very strict health rules

It was therefore time to react, even if it meant circumventing the prohibitions and taking the risk of being sanctioned. This is the case with the Lux cinema in Caen. One year to the day after its closure, this Saturday it allowed a few lucky people to rediscover forgotten sensations. And these privileged people appreciated this suspended moment. “You have to go to the cinema to take full advantage of being in front of a big screen, of being immersed in a dark room”, one of them said. “I am moved. It’s like going to a concert, we participate in something living in which we are drawn”, adds another.

But to remain in spite of everything in a semblance of legality, this free screening, only on registration, was intended to evaluate a film before its official release. A process that escapes government prohibitions. Like the spectators, the exhibitors are also at the party, happy to find their audience after many months of closure, but they are worried about the omnipresence of the platforms. “The habits are taken differently on dematerialized and some platforms take advantage of this to binge on both our viewers and our films. So there is real concern about the ability to relaunch after the link with our viewers”, alarms Gautier Labrusse, director of the Caen cinema.

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Professionals therefore wish to resume their activity as quickly as possible, but without deviating from very strict health rules. “There are 200 places. For today’s session, we set a 30% gauge, so we’re going to have 70 people. So there are enough places for people to distance themselves, and obviously they will keep the mask “, continues Gautier Labrusse. As for the spectators, they are unanimous and are not afraid to return to the cinema.

“I don’t see why we can go to stores and not to the cinema”, wonders a regular. “You just have to give people the rules and I think they will gladly accept them”, adds her neighbor. And reality gives them more reason. See instead: “Between June 22 and October 30 (2020), 27 million admissions were made in France without any cluster having declared itself”, specifies the National Federation of French Cinemas, which also argues that “300 to 400 films are waiting for the reopening of theaters to be released and this figure is growing every week”.

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