The Arenberg Film Centre in Brussels, existing almost25 yearsas an establishment that could present progressive, talented, editorial filmography, faces a grim future; the owners of the Galeries Saint-Hubert decided not to renew the lease and will close the cinema’s doors late December. What will take its place? A more commercialized cinema that will inherit none of Arenberg’s extraordinary legacy of showcasing works of talent openly to the public and being a cultural cornerstone.
They have four months to convince the authorities what a loss of an exceptional cultural space this will be. For Arenberg has, (in parallel to its ordinary purpose) a series of extraordinary missions: programmes for school kids (from kindergarten to secondary schools) , cine clubs organised by the association Lire et Ecrire (Read and Write) (for the attention of alphabetization groups), Genres d'à côté (Next door Genre), an initiative dedicated to gay and lesbian authors; or the Quinzaine des réalisateurs (a kind of annual decentralized version of Cannes Festival) just to mention a few.
In fact, this venue answers, more than any of the other cinemas in the city, to a requirement of civil integrity. Although they were steadily undermined by the crisis that hit the industry, the managers of the Arenberg have always refused to allege to the entertainment professionals, to succumb to commercial sponsoring, to sell its soul by selling cinema goers merchandise of the latest products, or transforming it into a fast-popcorn dealer...
What have they witnessed in recent months? Not the birth of a cinema project seeking to compliment the existing establishment in Brussels, but a kind of hostile takeover orchestrated by a private consortium, created from scratch for the occasion and whose ambition was from the beginning to end the Arenberg.
That isn’t acceptable and no one should stand for it.Since 2004, Attac-Brussels has developed a successful partnership with the Arenberg. 65 prolific evenings have made it possible to schedule quality fiction, several premieres, controversial documentaries and masterpieces. Each time the projections were accompanied by debates on current affairs or topical civilization. We want to continue this adventure. You can help save the Arenberg.
This article is an urgent appeal for help, addressed to all lovers of the big screen, no matter what age or origin.