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    Oldest cinema in Brussels officially reopens to public

    © Belga
    Situated on Boulevard Anspach in the city centre, the beautiful Art Nouveau building was designed by Paul Hammese and built in 1913. The Palace cinema is officially the oldest cinema in Brussels.
    © Belga

    The inauguration evening of the Palace Cinema took place on Tuesday evening in the presence of some 400 guests. Amongst them were the Mayor of Bruxelles-Ville, Philippe Close, the Alderwoman of Culture, Karine Lalieux, the former ministers of Culture for the Wallonia-Brussels Federation (W-BF), Fadila Laanan and Joëlle Milquet, who have both supported the project, and the current WB-F Minister for Culture, Alda Greoli, who is now seeing it come to fruition. At midday on Wednesday the cinema will reopen to the public.

    Luc Dardenne, President of the third-sector organisation “The Palace”, in his speech initially went back to the genesis of this ambitious project. It was started in 2004 and has taken some time to gather the necessary funds for the project to reach completion. “It has involved an agreement between our citizens and our elected representatives and deputies. The Federation’s Parliament has voted for budget increases which have maintained, in a high and tenacious manner, the sense of political responsibility by financing the creation of these premises, and by assuming through this same gesture that culture is a central tenet of democracy.

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    It is enabling the development of the moral imagination of all citizens, that is to say the capacity to put oneself in another’s position.” He particularly spoke of discussions anticipated to work with French and Dutch-speaking schools, as well as partnerships ahead with other cinemas of the Ville de Bruxelles district. Fien Troch, the Dutch-speaking director and film-maker, explained the project in outline.

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    The current Minister for Culture, Alda Greoli, stressed the significant meaning of the project for the French community. “In Brussels in particular, but also elsewhere in the country, the capacity of Flemish and French-speakers to talk with a view to constructing a genuine common culture is indeed an essential cornerstone, which exists within Belgian cinema. Thank you for this and thank you also for including it within one of our districts, and for having rescued an amazing piece of architecture…This is engraved both within a city and a region which speaks a lot of multiculturalism.” The minister also welcomed the status given to those with reduced mobility, the openness of the project to schools and the continuous educational approach. She stressed, “Films liberate us. Meeting others liberates us. Having a place where we can combine watching films with meeting others liberates us completely, so do not hesitate to come here!”

    The Palace management team, currently comprised of Olivier Rey (Managing Director), Alain Dereppe (Operations Director) and Nicolas Gilson (Artistic Director), came on stage at the end of the speeches, and declared the Palace Cinema open in both the French and Dutch languages.

    Lars Andersen
    The Brussels Times