At a time when audiences in the 1930s were already starting to favour large picture houses, architect Frédéric Leroy drew up plans for a neighbourhood cinema housed discreetly in a residential building in the lower part of Forest/Vorst. From its opening in 1934, the Movy Club capitalised on its intimate charm, which it took great pains to preserve. The modernist Art Deco auditorium, complete with balcony, was fitted out with 200 seats from the old Victory cinema.
In 1955, the Movy unveiled its revamped decor to cinemagoers, including a dark-blue, star-studded vaulted ceiling and enlarged 14-metre-wide CinemaScope screen and stereophonic sound system. No fewer than 400 concealed light bulbs, organised into three circuits, illuminated the shimmering champagne satin curtain as it opened before the film began, while indirect light shone from the side walls and sculpted the space between the projector and the screen, and lines of white neon stretched from one end of the auditorium to the other. The cinema’s operator at that time, Jean-Louis Houssa, kept audiences coming back for more with his varied weekly programmes, turning Movy Club, with its claims to have everything its audience could possibly desire, into Brussels’ leading neighbourhood cinema.
The screen had a proscenium in front, and above it a backlit letter M for Movy, topped with a crown. The entrance hall, the foyer, the whole auditorium and the projection booth have been listed, reflecting the Movy’s importance as a living witness to the friendly atmosphere of the small cinemas of the past. Having been purchased by the Brussels-Capital Region along with other neighbouring premises, the cinema is now at the heart of a scheme to revitalise the district, with a raft of activities planned for the near future. (Listed 27/03/1997)
Guided tours: Sat. at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00 and 15:00 and Sun. at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00, 14:00, 15:00, 16:00 and 17:00.
Activity: “Spotlight on the operator/projectionist, tucked away in a booth 22 metres from the screen”: Sat. at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30 and 14:30 and Sun. at 10:30, 11:30, 12:30, 14:30, 15:30, 16:30 and 17:30. How were films screened in the 20th century? What exactly does a projectionist do? The Movy cinema still has its old 35-mm projection equipment. You will learn about the equipment and processes needed to get the image onto the screen, as three projectionists take you through a side of the cinema that audiences never normally get to see, including editing the film, winding, loading the film, lighting power, framing, dispatch, alignment and focusing. 3, 2, 1… action!
In cooperation with Éric Vauthier, an expert in the history of Brussels cinemas, with contributions by former cinema operators (Alexandre Kassim, Francisco Navarro, Yves Verly) and material from the Sonuma audiovisual archives.
Sat., 10:00 to 15:30 and Sun., 10:00 to 18:00
Rue des Moines/Monnikenstraat 21, Forest/Vorst
By reservation only