Lausanne's Capitole Cinema Regains Its Sparkle

(MENAFN- Swissinfo) The Cinémathèque suisse has taken up residence there, with two 876-seat cinemas.

The famous neon lights of this emblematic building in the capital of Vaud can once again shine brightly in this veritable House of Cinema, the largest cinema in Switzerland.

Lausanne mayor Grégoire Junod, Fondation Capitole president Olivier Steimer and Cinémathèque suisse director Frédéric Maire presented the new face of the Capitole on Friday.

“The result is splendid,” Junod enthused.“This cinema has a very strong emotional and cultural role for the people of Lausanne and for all film buffs,” he said, pointing out that this“major and enormously complex” project was the“most important of this legislature”. The cost of the works came to CHF21.6 million ($25.7 million).

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Opened in 1928, the cinema, which will be celebrating its 100th anniversary in four years, is undergoing its third“major revolution” after the 1959 renovations. It was bought by the City of Lausanne in 2010 from the historic former owner of the Capitole, Lucienne Schnegg. Renovation and extension work began in 2021.

A second cinema has been created in the basement, along with a new foyer featuring contemporary architecture, with metallic walls that echo the undulating effect of the stage curtains. The renovated spaces now also house a consultation room for the Cinémathèque archives, a shop, a small specialist bookshop, a café-bar and even a lift.

Buache and Schnegg rooms

The great historic hall, still as imposing as it is elegant, has been given back its original carpet colour, a blue that somehow reflects the sky blue of the ceiling. This room with balcony now bears the name of the legendary director and pioneer of the Cinémathèque suisse, Freddy Buache. It can hold 736 people.

Named after Lucienne Schnegg, the new room can hold 140 people. It will enable the Cinémathèque suisse to develop and diversify its activities, in particular by allowing films to be screened for longer and two different films to be shown in the two cinemas. The number of screenings will therefore clearly increase and exceed the Cinémathèque's current three daily screenings in Montbenon.

The two projection booths are equipped for 4K digital and analogue projection, enabling films to be shown on 16mm, 35mm and 70mm film, a format that is making a comeback in the Capitole's main auditorium. It is the only cinema in the country equipped for 70mm and one of the only ones in Europe.

“We now have a place to showcase and promote cinematographic works worthy of a Cinémathèque. It's our new temple, showcase, museum,” enthused Frédéric Maire.

A major inauguration celebration is planned for February 24 and 25, with two open days featuring tours of the premises and screenings, including, on Saturday evening, Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, in a 70 mm version, a new copy of the original. On Sunday evening, there's plenty of laughs in the form of Yves Robert's comedy Le Grand Blond avec une chaussure noire (The Tall Blond Man with One Black Shoe) starring Pierre Richard.

The opening weekend will be followed by the 7th Rencontres 7e Art Lausanne (March 7-17). The director of the Cinémathèque has also already announced the programme for March and April, which includes two retrospectives, one of American director Spike Lee and the other of Chinese director Jia Zhang-ke. There will also be a tribute to the Zurich production company Praesens-Film, which is celebrating its 100th anniversary.


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