19 January 2011

Cinéma St. Denis

If I turn right outside my front door and walk up the street about 250 steps, I arrive at the entrance to the only movie theater in the Croix-Rousse district of Lyon.

Cinéma St. Denis opened its doors in 1920, first for the children of the St. Denis parochial school, then to the public during the 1930s. This one-screen movie theater can seat 237 people and is run entirely by a staff of 50 or so volunteers.

At six euros, the price of an adult ticket is considerably less than what you'd pay at other cinemas throughout the city. But don't let that fool you.

The theater is equipped with fantastic Dolby Sound and can project Digital as well as 3D films. Yet these are only a few of the reasons cinéphiles frequent this surprisingly modern salle de cinéma from yesteryear.

To start with, there are 10 showings each week  And with a wide variety of genres - art-house films, kids' films, foreign language films - there's always something for everyone.


When was the last time you went to see a movie that had an intermission?

Each showing at Cinéma St. Denis begins with previews which are then followed by a short. Then the lights come back up and the curtain slides closed for several minutes while a volunteer walks up and down the aisles selling candy, chocolates and ice creams.

The red cushion seats are plush and dangerously comfortable; they're even angled so that even children sitting near the back have an unobstructed view of the screen.

Because the cinema is located in the heart of the Croix Rousse, it's easy (for Croix Roussians) to decide on a whim to go see a film. Which is exactly what I did a few days ago.

At 8:15 last Friday evening I checked on the Internet to see what movie was playing. Nowhere Boy, the story of John Lennon, pre-Beatles. By 8:30 I had laced up my shoes, thrown on my jacket and was out the door.

250 steps later I was waiting in line to buy my ticket when I heard someone behind me say Excusez-moi. I turned and was asked by a young man if I wanted a free ticket.

He had two free movie passes that were expiring after this night. And since he had come to see the film by himself, he didn't want the second ticket to go to waste. So he offered it to me.

I thanked him, took the ticket then went and found a seat in the center of the theater, eager to watch the short - a Swedish film about a group of drummers who sneak into various (and forbidden) places to make music on everything from drinking glasses and electric mixers to toilet plungers and unconscious hospital patients.

Cinéma St. Denis is located at 77, Grande Rue de la Croix Rousse in Lyon's 4th district and generally shows films six days a week. You can see the current schedule of films here or here.

The volunteers' warm welcome, the cozy seating and the wildly creative short all reminded me of why I like going to see a movie - to let myself be swept away into that majestic and magical world of make believe.

1 comment:

milavera said...

sounds like a great venue. too bad i never went! that movie sounds pretty hilarious :) was it good?