January 31, 2022

KINO SLANG wholeheartedly
supports LA CLEF REVIVAL !

The ongoing story of LA CLEF REVIVAL––the last association-run cinema in Paris and the only one established by peoples' occupation and support rather than economic or institutional acquisition or absorption––has not been reported in the Anglo-American press. For the backstory in English see the excellent guide to Cinéma LA CLEF by Flavia Dima, writing for the Romanian film magazine Films in Frame.

Below is an English translation of LA CLEF REVIVAL's recent platform statement on what they've achieved in the last two years as a cinema, and on their scheduled eviction, an eviction that they, by all means, are set to resist. Following that is a statement of support and admiration for LA CLEF REVIVAL by KINO SLANG.

The complexities of French law––including a Mayoral reprieve half-supporting LA CLEF, and the "Sueur" law which protects community-run cinemas––may have helped delay the invasion of LA CLEF REVIVAL by the police and the buyers of the property, who in unison consider LA CLEF's occupation an illegal "squat". But those French complexities have now given way to a situation much more familiar, brute, and outrageous the world over: the legal, organized barbarism of an eviction. The ransacking of a non-profit neighborhood cinema, LA CLEF and its occupants, by a billionaire group in the name of nothing but the dictatorship of money. 

LA CLEF REVIVAL IS DUE TO BE EVICTED TOMORROW, FEBRUARY 1st. They are being ordered to vacate by the police TODAY, January 31st. 

Nevertheless, courage from LA CLEF's FB dispatch this morning:

The collective which has occupied the LA CLEF cinema for more than two years has until January 31 to leave the premises. Faced with this threat, we do not intend to give up or put the key (la clef) under the door! WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT! The doors of LA CLEF will be open all week to those who are concerned. The future of cinema!


The police department ordered us to leave the premises of LA CLEF today at the latest. Starting tomorrow at 6am, we will be more expelled than ever!
- Today, at 3:30 PM: WANG BING will be present after the screening of his film THE MAN WITH NO NAME ! 
- Tonight at 8:30 pm: CARTE BLANCHE LEOS CARAX: UNE CHAMBRE EN VILLE (1982) by Jacques Demy, followed by an exchange with Leos Carax!

AND TOMORROW, TUESDAY, we invite all our supporters to come and occupy LA CLEF beginning at 6 am. We will welcome you inside the cinema with coffee, croissants and surprise screenings, in accordance with health measures. COME IN NUMBERS. YES!

To support LA CLEF REVIVAL from afar there is a petition here. When I know of other ways of support, I will post them. You can follow LA CLEF REVIVAL via their main website, or via social media: FB, Twitt, Insta; they post across all of them with gusto. Last night Frederick Wiseman was there with JUVENILE COURT. Today Wang Bing and Leos Carax. Tomorrow, day of eviction, Valerie Massadian's NANA and GO FISH by Rose Troche. . .

At the 11th hour, which is now, let's be aware of their situation, make it known we are aware and in support of LA CLEF REVIVAL and their occupation, and against their eviction, and all evictions like it, and against the compromising of uncompromising cinemas.

Struggles are 
contagious too

«What consoles me, anyway, 
is knowing that there is 
always somewhere 
in the world, at any time––
when it stops in Tokyo 
it starts again in New York, 
in Moscow, in Paris, 
in Caracas––there is always, 
I say, a little monotonous noise, 
but intransigent in its monotony, 
and this noise is that of 
a projector projecting a film. 
Our duty is that this noise never stops.»
Godard to Langlois 

far from vietnam
one hundred children waiting for a train
the man with no name
black liberation

We Will Not Put 
the Key Under the Door
[Poster by member of LA CLEF REVIVAL]




The order was given to evict us as soon as possible. The cinema that our collective has been occupying and supporting for two and a half years is the property of a union of executives, the CFE-CGC, at the head of the works council of the Caisse d'Épargne, in a hurry to sell the building to the highest bidder and annoyed by our stubborn presence within its walls.

For the past two and a half years that we’ve been fighting to preserve the last association-run cinema (cinéma associatifin Paris, we have invented a way of seeing and making films that arouses unprecedented enthusiasm and solidarity. Nearly 15,000 spectators attended more than 500 screenings – rare, forgotten or fragile works, shown for pay-what-you-can (prix libre) admission to allow everyone to discover them. 

More than a hundred filmmakers have given us their support by coming to meet the public of La Clef. Institutions and public authorities welcome our actions in favor of distribution and creation. We have set up a residency for young filmmakers, Studio 34; initiated free image education workshops for schoolchildren, La Petite Évasion; organized two radio podcasts, with concerts, interviews, roundtables...

In short, we have worked, on a voluntary basis, to create a place of discovery, encounters and creation, essential in a context where culture is constantly undermined by the economic imperative and by the health crisis. 

We have also worked on concrete solutions to buy La Clef and continue this commitment independently. 

We manage a strong endowment fund of more than 100,000 euros in individual donations, and several pledges from various patrons. As we’ve already mentioned in a previous forum (here), this mode of acquisition would make it possible to buy the walls without impacting the current operation of the cinema. La Clef would remain independent and would no longer be a simple product of speculation on the property market. Its eclectic and collective programming, its practice of pay-what-you-can admission would be preserved in the long term, by ensuring that the place continues to be run as a non-profit association.

At the same time, we’ve succeeded in having our model accepted by institutions in the film industry. Thus, the pay-what-you-can projections that we've been making since the opening will be recognized by the CNC in the event of the legalization of our situation. The Studio 34 creation residency has enabled us to collaborate with many associations and production companies working to promote emerging creation, making La Clef a real matrix of the cinema of tomorrow. 

Finally, and this is our greatest pride, we have set up a collective, horizontal, and inclusive organization, representing an ideal of self-management. La Clef is more than a hundred volunteers who run the cinema by freeing themselves from the managerialist, sexist and racist schemes that too often govern the world of work. We say it again: everything opposes us to the potential buyer, Groupe SOS, a juggernaut of the so-called "social and consolidated" economy, led by the deputy director of La Republique En Marche, and working to transform the association-led environment into a lucrative business. For more information on this group, the evil methods of its leaders and the fundamental differences between this billionaire group and our collective, we invite you to read our previous forum (here).

From the beginning, and this is the lot of any occupation, our main problem has been the owner. It must be said that dialogue with the CFE-CGC has never been possible. We have sometimes been caricatured, portrayed as dangerous troublemakers, sometimes despised, our independence serving as a pretext to marginalize us. In its stubbornness to cede the building to the Groupe SOS, the leaders of this executive union have, it seems, never been able to grasp the importance that their own movie house has acquired since we’ve been occupying it. Or perhaps the race to the highest bidder is ahead of any ethical questioning.

Because in the current political climate, faced with the resurgence of fascism, the decline of public freedoms, the worsening of social inequalities, La Clef has become a vital island of emancipation, both for its spectators and for those who occupy it. If we organize sessions at pay-what-you-can admission, it is because we are, for the most part, precarious. If we project and produce queer, anti-racist, radical films, it is because they are works that resemble us. If we give so much space to emerging creation and to the most current stories, it is because we come from the same generation, which, from economic crisis to health crisis, refuses to resign itself.

At a time when the Police Department is carefully preparing our expulsion, we would like to address ourselves publicly to the CFE-CGC, to its executives but also to its members. 

Be aware that by expelling our collective, you are destroying more than two years of unprecedented cultural and creative effervescence, representing an artistic ideal for many local residents, film lovers, filmmakers and workers in film and the culture in general. Be aware that by abandoning the last association-run cinema in Paris to a billionaire group whose predatory practices are gradually undermining the associative milieu, your union is participating in the current reactionary offensive, always stifling a little more those who fight on a daily basis for more solidarity, inclusiveness, dignity.

The Occupants of the La Clef Cinema 

at 34 rue Daubenton, Paris 5th.


KINO SLANG is full of admiration for what LA CLEF REVIVAL has achieved: 

––The popular occupation and collective running of a disused Latin Quarter cinema, the red-marqueed LA CLEF (THE KEY)––a movie house with a great history of projecting ignored films from Africa and the Arab world under the tutelage of Sanvi Panou in the 90s, a movie house that stands in a Paris neighborhood extremely important to the history of film clubs, critics, theorists, film-goers, and filmmakers in France, in short: to the cinema. It must continue...

––LA CLEF REVIVAL's vital film programming over the past two years done in relay by its members, occupants, and invited filmmakers young and old. Film programming totally free of the scheming and possessiveness of so-called professional film curators, free of the hustling, hierarchies, corporate sponsorship and servitude of film festivals, and even free of fixed admission prices, practicing pay-what-you-can admission, encouraging participation and film-going for the young, unemployed, retired, underpaid.

––Their courage: When police told LA CLEF REVIVAL to pack up, they increased their cine-activity. All last week the screenings and forums became all-day affairs, from 11am (sometimes 6am!) until 11pm. Earlier last year, when the financial behemoth Groupe SOS offered to buy the property and allow LA CLEF REVIVAL to continue as it has, LA CLEF boldly refused (while quoting Brian De Palma: “Capitalism always goes about neutralizing a protesting force in the same way, it covers it with gold, and suddenly it's no longer protesting at all, and falls in line”), seeing and knowing (as we all do) the inevitable: that this would be precisely the rope with which to hang any autonomous community effort, any free cinema; that they would suddenly become employees of a sort, debtors and tenants for these particularly professional billion-euro restructurers; the original anti-profit impulse and foundation of protest would die, all would be lost. "Exit the movie usher, enter the managers," as LA CLEF put it.

––That "simple thing, so hard to achieve", so monstrously difficult in monstrous times: simply having and maintaining a neighborhood cinema, with popular support.




Andy Rector
Los Angeles

Thanks to Valérie Massadian  
for all updates + translation 
of LA CLEF's tribune

January 12, 2022

A Glimmer of Candlelight: Peter Nestler’s Picasso in Vallauris

by Libertad Gills

Less than a month remains to catch Peter Nestler’s new film Picasso in Vallauris (2021, 47 minutes) during its current online run, which began September 25, 2021 and ends January 30, 2022, made available internationally and for free by Museum Ludwig, Cologne. The film was commissioned for an exhibition titled “Picasso Shared and Divided: The Artist and His Image in East and West Germany”, curated by Julia Friedrich. The exhibition is concerned with Picasso’s presence (and memory) in the two Germanys, however this is not the subject of Nestler’s film; instead, Nestler examines by way of a lyrical and peacefully-paced essay, Picasso’s period in Vallauris, a communist-led commune located in the Cote d’Azur region of southeastern France, with special attention to the words and images of people who remember him, as well as to the work in ceramics and painting that he produced during this time. While Luciano Emmer’s 1954 film Pablo Picasso a Vallauris was made when Picasso was still living in Vallauris, Nestler’s Picasso in Vallauris, filmed in the first weeks of 2020, takes the spectator to Vallauris today and looks back to Picasso’s time there (1948-1955) but also forward to the following generations of future artists who, as we see in the film, are still children.

        Pablo Picasso a Vallauris                                         Picasso in Vallauris
        (Luciano Emmer, 1954)                                            (Peter Nestler, 2021)

     Picasso in Vallauris is loosely divided into two parts, with a suggestive prologue and a beautiful and unexpected epilogue. The film begins suddenly, without credits or music. The first thing we see is Picasso’s La Minotauromachie dedicated to Paul Éluard and his wife Nusch and signed by Picasso in 1936. On the soundtrack, we hear multiple voices; Nestler himself, as well as others who will provide a textured and collective narration to the photographic archives, letters, citations, and commentary that will be presented throughout the film. Éluard, we are told, was like a brother to Picasso. From the beginning we understand that this is not a conventional documentary on the world’s most famous painter: Nestler’s film will be affectively guided by the voices and images of those who were close to Picasso and who shared a common history with him. Unlike other films on the artist, this film is not only concerned with the man, but with the landscape, the ruins, the artifacts, and with what remains from this period in present-day Vallauris.

L’homme au mouton,
a gift to the town of Vallauris

     The first part of the film is concerned with the beginning of Picasso’s period in Vallauris starting in 1948, where he initially went to study pottery with Suzanne and Georges Ramie. He discovers the essential consistency of pottery, in relation to painting, including the observation that while in painting, the colors will gradually change over time, in pottery they remain the same. It is here, in Vallauris, and with the art of ceramics, that Picasso is revived as an artist. Nestler’s film borrows some shots from Emmer’s Incontrare a Picasso (1954), including a magical scene where Picasso transforms a ceramic vase into a peace dove in just a couple of minutes. Here every archival image becomes an archeological artifact that leads to an opening and a new discovery. For instance, a photograph by Robert Doisneau of Picasso with four-finger-shaped bread leads to a comment on Picasso’s ability with his hands—essential for any ceramist. This section of the film includes hypnotic images of local ceramists (the Crocianis family) working with their hands in Vallauris today, as well as beautiful photographs of Picasso with his family by Brassai, and of the artist at work by Edward Quinn.

     In the second part of the film, Nestler takes us into Picasso’s mural War and Peace, one of the major artworks made in the second half of his period in Vallauris. The mural was produced for an abandoned castle’s chapel vault which Picasso wanted to transform into a “temple of peace” and a symbol of protest against war. Nestler shows us the mural in different ways. First, filmed with a diffused iris effect around the image, produced by a flashlight or lantern perhaps, following Picasso’s wishes that it be seen as if by candlelight. This allows us to look at details first. Then we see the mural again but without the iris: several widescreen slow pans and tilts across the work, allowing us to see the details in relation to the rest of the mural. Then we see details of the mural again, well-illuminated. These details allow us to see the materiality of the mural itself, including the divisions in the fiberboard panels. This texture adds new meaning to the images. Nestler’s voice over provides a beautiful commentary on the images, adding to what we see. He points out, for example, “the vulnerable owl”, a figure that we have seen in Picasso’s life and work from the beginning of the film. Finally, we see the images again, a fourth time, through the sketches that make up Picasso’s studies for the mural. “Doing so many studies is the way I work.” These several layers of seeing provided by Nestler allow us to explore this work from different perspectives.

     In the final epilogue, Nestler films a group of young children in a drawing class taught by two young women, everyone silently working away in concentration. Whispers are heard here and there of children borrowing colorful pencils and markers from each other. We see and hear the silent discipline of children diligently working. Nestler’s voice-over commentary also goes quiet. As the camera tilts up from one of the artworks, we see the artist: a little girl with an owl on her shirt, in a wonderful gift of chance.

     Picasso’s life, work, and passion has one significant counterpoint in the film: a collection of brief moments where Nestler comments on other artists, friends, and contemporaries who did not survive the war. His earlier period in Vallauris, for example, was the worst of the Occupation in Paris. His friends had to hide from the Gestapo, including Max Jacob, who died in the Drancy camp near Paris, before he was even transported to Auschwitz. In another moment in the film, without an explicit connection to the rest of the narration, we are told of Pierre Daix, a journalist and book author in the Resistance, who was arrested, tortured, and sent to Mauthausen. “He is one of the survivors”, says Nestler. But many did not survive. One of these is Pierre Chalmette, former mayor of Vallauris, killed by the Gestapo on August 15th, 1944. 

     The life and work of an artist, in counterpoint to the cruelty and injustice of war. Nestler does not allow us to get swept up into Picasso’s success and genius, of which so much has already been said. We see that his work is, in the first place, work. His painless stroke of the paintbrush makes it look easy but we know that many hours of study, research, and pain are behind each gesture. War, fascism, injustice, are not just realities of life that have gotten in the way of the work of artists; they also shape artists, giving them, oftentimes, their subject. Art is a way to respond to war, “as an offensive and defensive weapon against the enemy”, says Picasso. When we see the children, their diligence and concentration, their pleasure in drawing, in creating in silence, we are left with the inevitable question of what will one day interrupt their practice, what will their subject be? Meanwhile, they must continue to work, they must keep practicing, they must keep exploring line and color. There will be time for war, for unrest, for the pain of watching others die before their time. For now, they draw themselves as a beautiful girl in a red gown, or in a bicycle race; or a simple row of nice houses and a street lined with colorful rabbits. For now, we/they must learn to work. From their work, one day they will find an answer to that which has not yet occurred.

     Picasso is referenced as saying, “Throughout the history of painting, you will find that there are 20 subjects, at most. A subject is something universal. It inevitably embodies an important phase of human development. Birth, suffering, death: those are major subjects”. Despite the fact that there are limited subjects, Nestler has found a way to shine a light (a candlelight) on subjects we are already familiar with: life, war, survival, death, and the subject of Picasso himself. Nestler makes the subject anew through his attention, his research, his work. The editing of archives 
— still photographs and films, quotes from different people who met Picasso at the time (the potters, the village baker) and two complete Éluard poems (the “chant dissident” titled “Bêtes et méchants” [The Stupid and the Wicked] and “Les Belles Balances de l’Ennemi” [The Enemy’s Beautiful Balances], both wartime poems published in 1945) —, the coming together of these materials appears as natural, as effortless as Picasso’s brush stroke painting his peace doves, from wings to tail to head to olive branch. But the work is there; like Picasso, Nestler has prepared for this his entire life. The result is nothing short of perfection.