Occupy the cinema!
In the Old Town of Rome, a group of students work on the regeneration of historical cinemas.
Trastevere is one of the main neighbourhoods in the Old Town of Rome. Famous for its atmosphere and heritage, the area is currently suffering a strong process of “touristification”. Old buildings are neglected in favour of new developments that foster consumerism. Trastevere is rapidly changing, and a clear sign of this phenomenon are the 14 cinemas abandoned in the area. In November 2012, a group of students, from different high schools in the city center, decided to occupy one of these abandoned cinemas (Cinema America) as protest against the shortage of places for social aggregation, the commercialisation of this area and for the promotion of free cultural initiatives. Their goal was to create a new social venue in the abandoned building, a place to organise events and a study room for after school activities.
(Unfortunately, no English subtitles are available for the video)
The young initiative was immediately “adopted” by local people, and supported by workers from the movie studios of Rome. This mix between professionals, young activists (15-25 years old) and citizens led to the creation of a venue focused on the promotion of quality movies and social events in harmony with the local neighbourhood.
In September 2014, the police removed the local group from Cinema America on the basis of illegal occupation. The activists decided to begin a process of formal recognition and founded an association. They presented a project to the local Council for the regeneration of another cinema (the Troisi, in honour to the famous Italian actor) and managed to secure funds for the project.
During the next couple of months, the works for the re-establishment of the new cinema are going to begin. The project represents a great example of urban regeneration, citizens’ engagement with the local community and promotion of culture. It is not a case that the promoters have asked support from Postmodernissimo (the first community cinema in Italy) for their project.