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Independent cinemas in Paris

Where to see classic retrospectives, world cinema and underground screenings

Karl Blackwell / Time Out
Le Cinéma du Panthéon

L'Accatone

As its name suggests, the Accatone is where fans of Pier Paolo Pasolini come to watch, and watch again, the masterpieces the most disturbing Italian director of his generation. His first film, ‘Accattone’, of course, but also ‘Teorema’, ‘Edipe Re’ and ‘Il Decameron’. This is an uncompromising cinema, set up on a narrow street in the Latin Quarter on the site of a former cabaret. 

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Quartier latin

Action Christine

In the Latin Quarter’s maze of streets, you can’t miss the Action network’s three cinemas: the Christine, the Grand Action and the Action Ecoles (recently renamed the Desperado). Set up like cine-clubs, their principal mission is to screen restored copies of classic films. Studio Christine first raised the curtain in April 1973.

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6e arrondissement

Le Balzac

Recommended

Built in 1935 and boasting a mock ocean-liner foyer, Le Balzac scores highly for design and programming. Jean-Jacques Schpoliansky, the manager, is often found welcoming punters in person. The Balzac awards prizes according to audience votes.

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8e arrondissement
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Le Champo

The two-screen Champo has been in operation for nearly seven decades, a venerable past recognised in 2000 when it was given historic monument status. In the 1960s, it was a favourite haunt of nouvelle vague directors such as Claude Chabrol. Novel programming includes the occasional Nuits du Champo, a trio of films beginning at midnight and ending with breakfast (€15).

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Quartier latin

Max Linder Panorama

This state-of-the-art cinema, with THX surround sound and an 18m (60ft) screen, is named after the dapper French silent comedian who owned it between 1914 and 1925. The walls and 700 seats are all black to prevent even the tiniest twinkle of reflected light distracting the audience from what's happening on the screen. Look for all-nighters and one-off showings of rare vintage films or piano-accompanied silents.

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Faubourg Montmartre

Le Cinéma des Cinéastes

Done out to evoke the studios of old, this three-screen showcase of world cinema holds meet-the-director sessions and festivals of classic, foreign, gay and documentary films. Also offers a monthly pass.

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Batignolles
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Le Brady

Set up in 1956, Le Brady is notably renowned for having been the one of the hallmarks of the Francois Truffaut's youth and having belong to the cinemaker Jean-Pierre Mocky. Le Brady is one of the rare cinemas thqts found in the Strasbourg-Saint-Denis quarter. Which is another reason why you should take a tour and discover its intimite setting and orinigal program, centred around films by recent authors, and lesser known classics.  

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Strasbourg-Saint-Denis

Le Cinéma du Panthéon

To celebrate its centenary in 2007, the city's oldest surviving movie house opened a tearoom with interior design by Catherine Deneuve. The CinÈma du PanthÈon continues to screen new, often obscure international films and hosts meet-the-director nights and discussions.

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Quartier latin

Reflet Médicis - Salle Louis-Jouvet

Before becoming a cinema, Le Reflet Médicis was a quality theatre, where giants like Gérard Phillippe and Maria Casarès made their débuts. But despite its promising billings, the Théâtre des Noctambules, as was, became the Reflet in 1964, with three screens on a narrow dark street ideal for watching classic cinema. Apart from world cinema screenings in the original languages, the Reflet also organises debates and meetings with film crews, often from films on national release. Also worth looking out for are the retrospectives of great directors like Renoir, Cukor and Buñuel.

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Quartier latin
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Cinéma la Clef

A militantly independent cinema, La Clef (The Key) (formerly Images d’Ailleurs) is a stone’s throw from the Université Paris-III, and constantly educates its audience in politically and artistically engaged films that often don’t go on general release. Debates, festivals and other events fill the two screens (120 and 65 seats), with the lion’s share of the programme given over to documentary cinema (for example, a 2012 retrospective on the remarkable Chilean filmmaker Patricio Guzman). 

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5e arrondissement

Also...

Studio 28

If we had to keep only one cinema in Paris, it might well be Studio 28. Perched high up in Montmartre, this mythical venue has seen a parade of living legends and great classics of cinema pass through its darkened rooms. It opened in 1928 with Abel Gance’s avant-garde masterpiece ‘Napoléon’, and since then hasn’t stopped offering the public the best feature films of every era. 

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Abbesses

Le Grand Rex

Recommended

Opened in 1932, this huge art deco cinema was designed by Auguste Bluysen and its fantasy Hispanic interiors by US designer John Eberson. With its wedding-cake exterior, fairy-tale interior and the largest auditorium in Europe (2,650 seats), this listed historical monument is one of the few cinemas to upstage whatever it screens. 

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Sentier

Le Lucernaire

Three theatres, three cinemas, a restaurant and a bar make up this versatile cultural centre. Theatre-wise, Molière and other classic playwrights get a good thrashing, but so do up-and-coming authors.

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Rennes-Sèvres
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La Cinémathèque Française

Recommended

Relocated to Frank Gehry's striking, spacious cubist building, the Cinémathèque Française now boasts four screens, a bookshop, a restaurant, exhibition space and the superb Musée du Cinéma. In the spirit of its founder Henri Langlois, the Cinémathèque hosts retrospectives, cult movies, classics, experimental cinema and Q&A sessions.

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Bercy

Cinéma Le Trianon

Worth the trip to its far-flung location in the suburb of Noisy-le-Sec, Le Trianon (not to be confused with the ritzy concert venue in Rochechouart) is that rare thing: a cinema that puts on a passionately curated programme of arthouse and world films, and lets you watch them for pittance (€6 for a full-price ticket, down to as little as €3.50 for special screenings). 

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Paris et sa banlieue

Le Mac Mahon

This single-screen, 1930s-era cinema has changed little since its 1960s heyday (tickets are still, delightfully, of the tear-off variety), when its all-American programming fostered the label 'mac-mahonisme' among the buffs who haunted the place. Americana still makes up the bulk of what's on the screen.

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Ternes
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La Pagode

Recommended

This glorious edifice is not, as local legend might have it, a block-by-block import, but a 19th-century replica of a pagoda by a French architect. Renovated in the late 1990s, this is one of the loveliest cinemas in the world.

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Ecole Militaire

Forum des Images

Partly a screening venue for old and little-known movies, and partly an archive for every kind of film featuring Paris. Today the Forum's collection numbers over 6,500 documentaries, adverts, newsreels and films, from the work of the Lumière brothers to 21st-century reportage. They have all been painstakingly digitised.

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Les Halles

Comments

1 comments
Huw O
Huw O

Not forgetting the Cine104 in Pantin! A brilliant, cheap indie cinema just north of the Parc de la Villette. Student tickets are €4!