This double exhibition gives an impression of the vibrant cinema culture of the past century and focuses on this unique yet underexposed cultural heritage, both in the city of Ghent and overseas in American society.
Ghent cinema city In 1896, the first public screening of the Lumière brothers’ cinematograph takes place in Ghent. Right from the start, the city has a flourishing cinema culture. During the interwar period, the audience experiences film in glorious movie palaces, second class theaters or rowdy quarter halls, parish halls and people's houses. Citizens enjoy premieres in Capitole, French racy films in Savoy, Hollywood films in Eldorado or Rex, adventure in Century, German musicals in Plaza or the ‘real nude’ in het Leopolleke. Ghent also responded well to changes in the world of cinema: evolving from silent film with live music to cinematoscope and 3D movie projection. The cinemas continued to exist despite some deep crises. In 1981, Decascoop –now Kinepolis Ghent- opened its doors, the very first real multiplex in Europe: an innovator in film entertainment business! Cinephiles can still indulge themselves in the charming art-house cinemas Sphinx and Studio Skoop.
This exhibition was made possible by Prof. Daniël Biltereyst and Dr. Lies Van de Vijver (Ghent University), by various bailors and it was coordinated by Jacques Dubrulle, honorary chairman of the Flanders International Film Festival – Ghent.
USA, movie palaces in the first half of the 20th century Cinema Photography by Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre An exhibition by the Deutches Filmmuseum, Frankfurt am Main in cooperation with Polka Galerie, Paris.
Parisian photographers Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre share a longtime fascination with ruins, which led to their international project “Ruins of Detroit” in 2005. As a result of this series, they took their first pictures of dilapidated cinemas and so the idea for a new project on abandoned movie theaters in America began to grow. In their series “Theaters”, they explore old American ‘movie palaces’, which were built during the heyday of cinema. Thousands of cinemas were set up during the ‘10s and ‘20s of the past century so the masses could enjoy film in a luxurious setting at an affordable price. Cinema became an integral part of cultural life, before television entered the American living rooms. By the end of the ‘50s, a whopping 90 percent of American households owned a television set and the decline of cinema had started. Many of those monumental, historical and architecturally impressive buildings are now dilapidated or were redeveloped to supermarket, gym or basketball court.
The pictures in this exhibition are an invitation to a visual journey through time and testify to the faded glory of these cinema palaces of yesteryear.