Moscow’s oldest cinema reopens


The reception of the Koudojestviennyi in Moscow, in June 2021 (Claude Bruillot / Radio France)

Marble stairs, luminous fountain, giant glass roof, renovated after many uncertainties, the oldest cinema in Moscow has regained a second youth. A month after its inauguration, there is a whole atmosphere, that of the period preceding the Bolshevik revolution of 1917, which, at least in architecture, seems to be reborn.

Alexander Mamut, billionaire businessman, who owns the Koudojestviennyi, has waited nearly seven years to create this new atmosphere. Next to the old wooden ornaments, under the gaze of the moldings from the Tsarist era, between its minibars and its library corner, is now a large room with 500 seats renovated. A place where you can watch a movie from two euros.

Another atmosphere on the upper floor. In what could be compared to an anteroom, 21 luxury seats with individual tables await their wealthy spectators who will have to pay 50 euros to settle there.

Between two sessions, you can always taste Russian specialties at “Niki”, one of the indoor restaurants. Its name is directly inspired by the diminutive of which the Czarina of German origin, Alexandra, affublĂ© Nicolas II.

On the way up the stairs, between the black and white photos of the stars, the Muscovites pose, while we guess behind a door, the credits of a film. A way of remembering that if the old Koudojestviennyi has once again become the new meeting place in the Russian capital in one month, it aims above all to attract fans of the 7th art.

The Koudojestviennyi’s ambition is to stand out from the big Moscow theaters with a program shared between mainstream films and Russian productions. An ambition that could earn him friction with the federal authorities. The latter, for example, blocked the broadcast of a satirical film, such as Stalin’s death. This did not prevent Alexander Mamut from maintaining the presentation of the film in his other cinema complex in Moscow, at the risk of incurring the wrath of censorship.

A question then arises: will he be able to repeat his action at the next opportunity and thus take advantage of the aura of the old cinema to resume his standoff with the authorities?

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