From september 2019 to march 2022, The members of Home Cinema and then of La Clef Revival occupied night and day La Clef movie theater in the 5th district of Paris, to reopen it to the cinephile public. This occupation was unprecedented in Paris. Today the collective is the buyer of the building, thanks to an endowment fund, Cinéma Revival. The collective wishes to pursue its actions thanks to a solid project of recovery, based on two and a half years of experience.
On September 20, 2019, a collective of moviegoers, film professionals, artists and local residents initiated a citizen occupation of La Clef cinema: they illegally entered the building and organized a free public screening the next day.
The owner sued, and in the first instance the occupants were condemned to a daily fine of 350 euros. The collective appealed, and rightly so: in September 2020, the fine was lifted and the judge granted the occupants a six-month delay to allow them to find a solution in dialogue with the landlord and the Paris City Hall.
An insistent buyer then invites itself to the negotiating table: the SOS Group, with whom the occupants refuse to deal.
Even though the LFI and EELV elected officials of the Paris Council support the occupants, the Paris City Council does not pre-empt the purchase of La Clef by the SOS Group. On June 11, 2021, the deadline granted by the Paris Court of Appeal expires and the collective can be evicted again.
Thanks to the support of the spectators, the professionals and institutions of the cinema, the politicians, the academics, the collective continues its actions until the beginning of the year 2022. Until January, when they received an eviction notice that decided to initiate an unprecedented mobilization.
From January 24, 2022 to March 1, 2022, “open houses” will be organized at La Clef to mobilize support: continuous screenings, meetings with guests (Alain Cavalier, Danielle Arbid, Frederick Wiseman, Wang Bing, Leos Carax, Frédéric Lordon, Jacques Rancière, etc.), “open forums” where those who defend our occupation (filmmakers, film professionals, academics, elected officials)
This mobilization with a dazzling success did not however prevent the eviction of the collective by the CRS, on the morning of March 1st. The same day, the SOS Group announced that it was withdrawing its offer: the cinema was therefore still for sale.
We are now outside the walls of La Clef but have decided to buy the building thanks to our endowment fund, Cinéma Revival, with more than 2200 donors and more than 150 000€ in donations.
Cinéma La Clef – Timeline
The original idea
Interview with Claude Franck-Forter, founder of La Clef cinemas (french and spanish only)
Claude Frank-Forter opens the La Clef Cinema
A complex with 3 cinemas (226, 97 and 86 seats) and a restaurant: the Auberge de La Clef. Bernard Martinand, who had worked at Henri Langlois’ Cinémathèque, was in charge of programming.
Together, they encourage new talents in their programming, recruit students for the reception, organize festivals, and facilitate access to theaters for students and retirees.
Frank-Forter is forced to close its complex.
The buyer, the Works Council of the Caisse d’Épargne d’Ile de France, allowed the cinema to remain in operation, but the cinema had to give up one room in favor of a cultural center dedicated to activities for employees, retirees, spouses and families of the Caisse d’Épargne.
(only 2 rooms left: 120 and 65 seats)
Sanvi Panou sets up “Images d’Ailleurs
The CECEIDF took over and made the two remaining rooms available to associations that operated the cinema. One of them will definitely forge the cultural identity of the place, “Images d’Ailleurs”, thanks to Sanvi Panou, its initiator. It is dedicated to the promotion of works from black and underrepresented cultures.
“Images d’Ailleurs” became “L’usage du monde” and then “Le Cinéma La Clef”… and continues to offer a unique program in Paris.
The CECEIDF, which became the CSECEIDF (Social and Economic Council of the Caisse d’Epargne) put La Clef up for sale for 1.5 million euros.
First attempt to buy out the room manager Raphaël Vion.
Closure of La Clef as “definitive”.
Former employees of La Clef launch an attempt to take over the cinema.
New board for the social and economic committee of the Caisse d’épargne Île-de-France, the owner. SNE-CGC and CFDT take the lead. The price of the cinema increases to 4 million.
Failure of the takeover attempt by former employees of La Clef.
September 20, 2019
Film buffs, directors, film professionals and various artists from artistic squats, local residents (Collectif Curry Vavart, DOC, Le Post, Le jardin Denfert, Le SMAC, Collectif Laissez-nous La Clef, Les Froufrous de Lilith, Conséquence, La Serrure, GRAVE) decide to illegally occupy La Clef in a civic and disinterested manner.
September 21, 2019
First screening at the Cinéma la Clef occupied Attica by Cinda Firestone.
September 24, 2019
The forces of order are dispatched by the owner, first passage of the bailiff.
September 28, 2019
Constitution of the non-profit association, Home Cinéma, and publication in the Official Journal.
October 8, 2019
Peaceful and citizen mobilization of the Home Cinema Association in front of the Works Council of the Caisse d’Épargne d’Île-de-France. An extraordinary meeting was held Tuesday, October 8, 2019 at 9:30 am with a view to evicting the citizen occupants of the Cinema La Clef. 16 votes against 9 decide to maintain their eviction!
October 24, 2019
Special meeting of the Cinéma la Clef
In the presence of many cinema professionals, the Mayor of the 5th district, Florence Berthout, and Frédéric Hocquard, the deputy mayor of Paris in charge of nightlife and diversity of the cultural economy.
November 5, 2019
First appearance in court.
December 1, 2019
After several appearances in court, the verdict falls, the members of Home Cinema must leave the premises.
Thanks to the general mobilization, the support of the district, the press, the professionals of the cinema and the politicians, the association decides to maintain the occupation.
January 8, 2020
Second passage of the bailiff.
The association Home Cinema has one month to leave the premises.
February 9, 2020
The association is officially evictable.
The CSE, owner of the premises, refused to receive the association. The fight to preserve the independence of the cinema continues through its citizen occupation.
March 14, 2020
Closure of La Clef due to COVID-19 (1st containment)
April 17, 2020
The spirit of La Clef offers its first outdoor session.
The screenings become a regular event every Friday.
First outdoor screening : The Night of the Hunter, by Charles Laughton
September 21, 2020
Trial on appeal
January 24 – March 1, 2022: Permanent festival “Risk of eviction
Open door and permanent festival : all-day cinema sessions starting at 6am every day (except weekends), the multi-purpose hall is open all day. Speeches are held around 7pm the first weeks, debates take place at almost every afternoon and evening session. During these five weeks, approximately 10,000 people attended the Key!
March 1, 2022
Expulsion by the police at 6:15 am while the spectators were waiting for the opening of the doors for the screening of Agnès Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7.
From March 2022 to date
The collective is invited in many places of solidarity for projections, debates and events.
May 4, 2022
Appeal to the JEX (Judge of Execution)
LE TOUR DE CLEF : La Clef Revival makes its festival tour.
Start to school year 2022
Many events for the 3 years anniversary of the occupation of La Clef cinema, around September 21.
The collective pursues weekly film screenings in the occupied building DOC! every sunday.
March 4-5, 2023: “Filming in common” weekend festival
Two days long in the DOC! with dozen of films, with guests and debates, soups and fun. The spirit of the crazy last weeks in La Clef is back.
April 26, 2023
An agreement to buy the building is signed to make it a common good!
The collective continues weekly film screenings in the occupied building DOC! every sunday.