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In a heartening display of solidarity, the film community, led by Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, has united to save La Clef, the last collective-run cinema in Paris’s Latin Quarter, ensuring its continued role as a beacon for independent and diverse cinema.

La Clef, a beloved institution in Paris’s Latin Quarter, has been a bastion of independent and diverse cinema since its establishment in the 1970s. Known for showcasing films from Africa, Asia, and South America that rarely find a place in mainstream theaters, La Clef has been a vital cultural hub for the city’s film enthusiasts and students from the nearby Sorbonne University. However, the cinema faced an uncertain future when its owners, a bank subsidiary, decided to sell the premises, threatening to close the doors on this unique venue.

For six long years, La Clef’s supporters fought tirelessly to keep the cinema alive. Through multiple occupations, political standoffs, and petitions, they refused to let this cultural gem fade away. Their determination and passion caught the attention of Hollywood heavyweights Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino, who joined the cause to save La Clef.

Scorsese, a champion of cinema preservation, lent his voice to the movement in 2022, penning a powerful column in the French newspaper Libération titled “La Clef must remain a cinema.” His words resonated with film lovers around the world, drawing attention to the importance of preserving independent cinemas like La Clef.

The collective’s efforts also gained momentum through an art sale at the Palais de Tokyo, where renowned filmmaker David Lynch contributed his work to raise funds. Tarantino, along with several prominent French filmmakers, including Mathieu Amalric, Leos Carax, and Celine Sciamma, also made significant donations to support the cause.

Thanks to the unwavering dedication of the collective and the generous support of the film community, La Clef was finally saved from closure. The collective announced on Wednesday that they had raised the necessary 2.7 million euros ($2.9 million) to purchase the cinema, ensuring its future as a haven for independent and diverse filmmaking.

The collective’s commitment to La Clef’s original mission remains steadfast. They have vowed to continue showcasing rare films and to maintain the cinema as a place where anyone can join the collective, learn how to organize a screening, and propose a film. This inclusive and participatory approach has been a hallmark of La Clef’s success and will undoubtedly continue to inspire and engage film lovers in the years to come.

During the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, La Clef demonstrated its resilience and ingenuity by projecting a film onto the side of a building for locked-down residents in nearby apartments. This act of solidarity and creativity exemplifies the cinema’s role as a vital part of the community fabric.

While La Clef has been saved from immediate closure, there is still work to be done. The collective must raise an additional 600,000 euros over the coming year to bring the venue, with its dilapidated walls and tired seats, up to mandatory standards. After a brief four-day re-opening next week, the real work of restoration and renovation will begin.

With AFP

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