The Cinémathèque in Toulouse: stars at the movies

With its quarter century of experience, one might think it was obsolete with its silent films, its thick books and reels from the old days. However, the Cinémathèque in Toulouse remains incredibly contemporary, intrepid and audacious, focusing both on modern cinema and the stars of yesteryear. Located for the last two decades at 69 rue du Taur, it’s just celebrated another birthday.

A great spot

Slightly hidden away at the bottom of a pretty courtyard in the centre of Toulouse, the Cinémathèque welcomes more than 80,000 filmgoers every year. However, few Toulouse residents know about it with its two projection rooms, its library and its large exhibition hall. The most inquisitive may know that it has now been declared a national cinémathèque (film library) within the region. But very few know that for the last ten years, it’s had an extension in Balma: a centre for research, conservation and archiving of films, posters and photos. But back to the city centre to buy a ticket. Films await us.

An activist feel

For its President, Robert Guédiguian, it’s “a space for freedom and civilisation. It questions the world.” It aims to preserve films and documents related to the history of cinema. But it must also promote and share the cinematographic heritage which it keeps safe. Visitors come to see arthouse films, silent films, colour films, black and white films, for children and for adults. People also visit to attend meetings and lectures, to broaden their knowledge of the world of cinema and to watch out-of-the-ordinary films unlike the widely available blockbusters. With specific events for different audiences, the Cinémathèque in Toulouse covers the entire history of all cinema, making it as open and accessible as possible. And it works! After fifty years, 20 of which have been spent in rue du Taur, it’s emerged from hiding and has found a large audience of cinema lovers.

A flourishing programme

More than 900 films are shown every year on its screens. Short films, feature films, documentaries: they’re from all eras and all countries. Every month, schedulers come up with new retrospectives, focusing on a genre, a theme, an actor or a director. They also pay homage, organise sociable events and invite musical groups for popular evening events combining films and concerts. It also hosts various Toulouse festivals including Cinélatino, or Cinespaña, with its courtyard used for outdoor cocktail parties, in addition to its screens. Refusing to follow the path of “classic” cinema, the Cinémathèque hosts “Extreme Cinema”, an off-the-wall festival with extravagant and out-there films. Once a year, Toulouse residents meet together for a one-off evening of cinematic experiences: ten hours of non-stop screening with short films, trailers and late-night noise. Breakfast is available as soon as the sun comes up. It’d be a shame to miss out on this experience and to miss out on this Cinémathèque.

The Cinémathèque in Toulouse, 69 Rue du Taur, 31000 Toulouse. Tel: 0033 (0)5 62 30 30 10.

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