The whole city looks like a Woody Allen movie at this point in November. It has an intellectual air –but not too much–, a turn-down collar, the squares alive and the horny and happy nights. The city is always the same, but autumn suits him well. The film festival of a few days ago, the green carpet –not red–, the actresses… There is a carefree merriment that Seminci leaves behind. Strolling through Valladolid on these dates gives you the possibility of being an unknown movie star, Brad Pitt in ’91 when he came to present ‘Thelma and Louise’ and nobody knew who that blond kid was, as now they don’t know who we are. Within a
decade a girl will say that she knew us the same as that other one of whom the legend tells who took the American on a spree that night.
Maybe every Valladolid, without wanting an Oscar, or a Spike, I quietly aspired just to be an extra in the movie these days. Each one in their place, playing the role of their daily tasks. The important thing is to return the queues to theaters, characters waiting for the lights to go out and see someone discovering that beyond Marvel there is life. “I was born – respect me! – with the cinema”, shouts Alberti in his verse, because with the cinema we were all truly born, no matter the decade. One remembers the first movie he saw, who was holding his hand that afternoon and to which cinema – surely disappeared – he went. Do not forget. The first cinema, the first movie, are like a first girlfriend that one keeps the memory of discreetly all one’s life.
But the cinemas in city centers have been disappearing. In the background passes the hours a mythical Art Deco building inaugurated in Valladolid in 1936 where the Roxy cinemas used to be and now there is a casino. Unfortunate fortune to gamble with one hand, exchange a movie theater for some slot machines and a few tables of Black Jack. Or because of the ephemeral textile fashion, such as the Avenida de la Gran Vía cinema in Madrid, where there is now an H&M and previously Pasapoga. Or the sausages for sale in the supermarket that occupies the Urgell cinema area in Barcelona.
The future had those things, which did not leave room for romanticism even in Technicolor. And the Roxy, Avenida or Urgell is an increasingly widespread case: the halls in the center of cities disappear and die without anyone having written an obituary for them. They die ingloriously, they get lost “in time, like tears in the rain” and what is even sadder, without Ennio Morricone having time to compose a requiem for them to act as the soundtrack. Among the shopping centers on the outskirts of all the cities of Spain, digital platforms and the pandemic have been killing the few halls of their entire lives that survived as shipwrecked in a century that is not theirs. 21st century: a common place where everything has to be bigger, faster, more fluffy and unnecessarily absurd… And now movie theaters no longer have red seats, but instead seek to supplant the living room of a house. That you can eat a kebab in the dark and recline the chair that swallowed up the prehistoric armchair to watch the movie with your feet up. Perhaps the owners of multiplex cinemas have not fallen into the fact that to do exactly what couples can do in their homes with Netflix in the background, they do not go to the movies, they do not even leave the house.
I do not understand that the directors have not yet released a manifesto forbidding anyone to see their film lying down. Nor is it necessary, as José Luis Garci of the masterpieces, see them kneeling on a kneeler… but what less than a minimum of dignity.
It is precisely on this that Rodrigo Cortés, film director and collaborator of ABC, reflects, who will release his latest film in the coming days: ‘Love gets a room’. “The world is what it is, but there is something second to none about the big screen experience, not just the size and the sound. Seeing a film in the cinema makes it possible for the public to experience the film in the dimensions that it has been conceived and designed, but above all I am referring to the liturgy. Going to a room means going to the trouble and shutting yourself up in a chapel that turns off the world for two hours. That seems unbeatable to me », continues the filmmaker. «When, as now, the supply is infinite, but domestic, there is something that the body does not respect in the same way. One faces an infinite tapestry in the form of rectangles that are posters and chooses one as one could choose another… And that is not shown the same respect, neither consciously nor unconsciously. I don’t know where we are going because the anticipation exercise is always futile. Of course, without any nostalgia or romanticism I say that the experience of the room is irreplaceable ».
Perhaps that is why there is a more rigorous mourning when a cinema closes than when any other business closes, the city becomes more monotonous, smaller and less cosmopolitan. That is why there is a silent heroism in businessmen who against fashions, crises and against the century, bet on maintaining small rooms in the center of cities where they take refuge on Saturdays.
Francisco Heras is the owner of the ‘Broadway’ and the ‘Manhattan’ cinemas in Valladolid, the ‘Van Gogh’ in León and the ‘Van Dyck’ in Salamanca. A dreamy guy who keeps the popcorn warm because it’s the Proust cupcake of our childhood. When asked why he continues to resist, he sighs a «how can I explain the sadness that it produces in me … When I arrived in the city in 1983 there were about forty theaters in the city alone. Unfortunately, all but these have been closing. So above all we remain open for not giving up, for love of everything that cinema means. I also tell you that the only important thing is to forget what it entails economically, “he explains with reluctance.
He weighs that «the cinema, like the theater, dies historically and here we continue. The open-air cinema created a negative upheaval for theaters, then video, then private televisions, that was indeed the deep war, and now the platforms. Of all these we have been able to get out and survive. I remain true to the belief that cinemas are not going to die. You have to work a lot with young people so that they understand that the experience cannot be compared to watching a movie on a mobile phone ». He talks about young people in the hope of knowing that the future of his business passes through them.
Town to town
It also gives the idea of the need to expand your culture. «We screen many film series in original version: French, German, etc. films. Very few young people come, before there was more interest. You have to give it back, especially because it is a generation in which parents have spent thousands of euros to learn languages … But I am positive, perhaps because I have no choice. I am looking forward to retiring from this business and for my son to continue with him later. And I think we will succeed because that other new concept of cinema is already starting to break down. It would not occur to me to go to a room and have dinner served, much less that of Miss, bring me a tonic! I make dinner at home, or after the movie I go to a restaurant with my wife. But it is already being seen that this model does not work. So around there I think we get back to the essence. It is true that there are movies that ask you to eat the seat, but the vast majority of them require you to stay seated and live what the director wants you to experience … A ‘Star Wars’ movie invites you to eat The one in the armchair next door, but a Woody Allen movie, on the other hand, requires you not to open a piece of candy to get rid of your cough.
Something similar to what happens in the rural world where a cinema is a luxury from another era. Before, curiously, there was a ‘Cinema Paradiso’ in each town and in the best of cases now there is a rickety facade that is held in the air and some pigeons nesting where one day the projector was. Few towns can boast of having a theater running with premieres every Friday, but that is precisely what Joaquín Fuentes of ProyecFilm does, to bring movie theaters to those locations that the administration has often not been to. carried no coverage yet. They currently have ten rooms of their own and manage another eight in various towns throughout Spain, from Murcia to Burgos, the last one in Miranda de Ebro.
«From the year 83 to 88 I had a theater in Guijuelo and I had to leave it because people stopped going to the movies; everything is cyclical. Then there was a golden age, then the internet came and they sank us because the distributors sent us the films late and the kids had already seen them in a bad way on the computer, so we had to close it again ”, he recalls how the war is remembered. “With Lthe advent of digital cinema has been faster and cheaper and we have been able to open stores in many more small municipalities. A cinema gives life to a town, if you don’t die of disgust in winter. That there is a cinema where the same film that premieres in Madrid is premiered many times and takes the neighbors out of their homes is a miracle. I tell the neighbors and administrations that, their mouths are filled with depopulation and they do not support almost anything. Of course, the films are well subsidized so that they are later seen in four counted places. Films that have won the San Sebastián festival and that have only seventeen viewers. Maybe they should review their priorities, ”he adds scathing. «In the cinema of Peñaranda de Bracamonte my wife is usually selling popcorn and I take care of the tickets. I’m excited that everyone who goes there tells you: Joaquín, don’t close the cinema and such. But I always answer the same thing: Come more, damn it, because this is my way of life. And so far they have behaved, the truth. In Peñaranda I have met kids who went with their girlfriend and now they are grandparents. I’ve been in the cinema all my life, we have resisted thirty years, we meet our payments and that is to be proud of, “he puffs out before ending the conversation.
During the summer, ProyecFilm expands its business territory with summer cinemas. Thanks to them, several generations have seen for the first time ‘Once upon a time in America’, ‘The 400 coups’ by Truffaut or one of the Marx brothers. Mythical nights, «sleight of hand / in the shade of a summer cinema», sung by Sabina.
«The cinema went to hell the day we started selling colored popcorn», Eloquently said last week a guy who serves them in the movies. «After that, as if the film Fellini premieres». But even with colorful popcorn, cinemas are still the last agora where a city’s polis gathers. Perhaps the success of the theater and the opera was not even imagining the staff drinking Coke or eating pickles. There are activities that require a certain ceremony in the absence of a tuxedo, and the cinema was perhaps never called to anything other than to be a ritual for large minorities. The cinema, which always had something of a catacomb with a sheet on the wall where the regulars recognize each other on Fridays after dinner.