We did it. La Clef is saved.

From stories of workers’ struggles to decolonial films, La Clef has always been a movie theater that confronted pressing political issues, making space and giving a platform to other justice-oriented movements. We carried on this history from the first months of the occupation through to our recent screening series at DOC – and it’s because we believe that film creates connections and spark debates that we fought so hard to save La Clef.

We are especially happy to announce today, amidst a seriously worrisome political context that makes it more necessary than ever to have a space to gather, to think through, and to build alternatives. We hope that this good news, as small a glimmer as it may be, brings hope and strength to all who are organizing, everywhere. 

We almost can’t believe we made it, the road to get here was long and arduous. 

It took us almost five years of struggle. Five years of reflection, meetings, negotiations, messages in bottles tossed at sea, wild ideas, disappointments, and beautiful surprises. It took thousands of hours of meetings, sleepless nights, and emails to the entire world. Occupying then buying La Clef required an immense coordinated effort and so much perseverance — and it was only possible because dozens of people worked together, taught each other, took turns relaying one another. Without all this, we would not have accomplished an endeavor like this that required we learn how to do everything : run a projector, repair a beer tap, host a debate, build out a budget, avoid eviction, find patrons, produce movies, buy time. 

It was exhilarating but hard. Thanks to the constant support from the public, volunteers who came to lend a hand, donors, friends, colleagues, and the activists who inspired us and advised us, we never gave up. It’s thanks to all of you : again, thank you a million times over!

The Cinéma Revival foundation will be the owner of the building. Its mission is to guarantee that La Clef always remains a collectively-run independent movie theater, forever protected from real estate speculation and freely run by its members. The Cinéma Revival foundation entrusts the La Clef Revival nonprofit organization with the day-to-day management of the space, open to all who wish to join. This project grows out of the occupation: screening rare films on a pay-what-you-can basis, participatory curation, programming by other organizations and movements, frequent meetings with film professionals, a dedicated community space, workshops to support emerging voices… 

This way, we’re not just saving a neighborhood movie theater. We’re defending the idea that the value of a place isn’t measured just in its square footage, but also in its ability to create possibilities to organize and create together. We maintain that these kinds of spaces need to exist in the heart of our cities, and not just on the peripheries where market forces are constantly pushing them further afield. We’re opening a crack in the neoliberal city, a welcoming space for invention and contestation that will be a resource for collectives that don’t have a space of their own – the recent news is urging us to foster political autonomy, weave new solidarities, and encourage mutual aid. 

We hold firm that culture is for all to share, and that collective management is a path for emancipation. La Clef will be a place to share ideas, films, and struggles; where we can constantly connect the dots between the artworks and the present day, between cinema and politics. 

We can’t wait to reopen our doors for collective imaginations to rush in!