By Xiu Ying, Contributing Reporter
SÃO PAULO, BRAZIL – Cine Bijou, a traditional São Paulo street cinema founded in the 1960s, will reopen its doors in the second half of June.
The space located in praça Roosevelt, known for displaying copyright films during the dictatorship, has been closed since 1996 and will return to activity, now under the command of Ivam Cabral and Rodolfo García Vázquez, founders of the neighboring theater company Os Satyros.
The aim, according to the two, is to maintain the same avant-garde spirit that marked the place.
“There will be many art movies, themed shows, distinguished guests and Brazilian films that can not get into the circuit,” says Cabral. For García Vázquez, it will be more a meeting space than a commercial room. “Because we will never be able to compete with traditional cinemas,” he explains.
The two directors began renting space a few days ago, replacing the Theater of the Actor. “It could not be turned into a church or a bar. It’s the kind of thing that would make the city lose its remembrance,” says Cabral.
The movie theatre retains 88 of the red armchairs since its inauguration in 1962 but the screen needs to be renovated.
In the first months movie projection will be made in blu-ray. “We still can not afford the projector that this cinema deserves, but we will have it soon,” says Cabral.
Neither of the two are unaware of the misfortunes that street cinemas face in São Paulo, with the retreat of sponsors and difficulties of banking operations. Both Belas Artes, on Consolação Street, and Cinearte, on Avenida Paulista, are experiencing difficulties.
“We are not deluded,” says Cabral. “We know that less and less people go to the movies today, particularly to watch the kind of films that will be shown here, but it’s a political gesture.”
During the military dictatorship, Cine Bijou functioned as a kind of cultural bastion in times of political oppression, exhibiting copyright films that did not have much place in traditional theatres and which were constantly in the spotlight of censorship.
Folha’s Columnist Marcelo Coelho wrote his memoirs of the movie theatre during the 1970s in the book “Cine Bijou.”
Between the 1980s and 1990s, the theatre lost its regulars until it closed its doors, mainly due to the decadence of downtown São Paulo.
At the beginning of the millennium, however, the arrival of theatre groups like Satyros – one of the pioneers – transformed the once degraded praça Roosevelt into a bohemian stronghold in São Paulo.
García Vázquez recalls some of the movies he watched in that room in the 80s: Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner”, “Persona” by Ingmar Bergman and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s “120 Days of Sodom” – Interestingly, the next work of the new directors of Cine Bijou is strongly connected to this Italian film.
In June the two directors film their version of “120 Days of Sodoma”, their third feature film after “Hipóteses para o Amor e a Verdade” and “A Filosofia na Alcova.”
“When we started, we had no place,” he says. “We were too intellectual for commercial theater and too pornographic for the intellectual theater, the aim was to get our own space. If you have one, then you do whatever you want to do in it.”