The last picture show
Photos: Stephan Zaubitzer
Text: Katerina Markelova
It’s a pleasure that much of the world has been deprived of for many months. The pleasure of entering a cinema – slipping in between rows of seats, and letting the darkness envelope you, as you gaze fondly at the big screen, to immerse yourself into a story.
While these spaces remain temporarily inaccessible to us, we can reminisce about the movie experience through the photographs of French photographer Stephan Zaubitzer. He has travelled the world, photographing cinemas for a project he has been working on since 2003.
Zaubitzer’s “portraits” of cinema theatres bring out the architectural uniqueness of this popular heritage – a world away from the sameness of multiplexes. The Rialto in Casablanca, the Roxy in Rio, and the Raj Mandir in Jaipur all display their imposing and rather outdated façades – like a show before the show.
These venues, which offer a collective experience like no other, have been hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. In March 2020 alone, the global film industry recorded a $7 billion loss in revenues. A number of cinema houses may never reopen.
As we celebrate the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development in 2021, UNESCO is urging decision-makers to integrate culture into their recovery plans, and to address the precarious condition of artists and the risk that cultural production will become standardized.
Cinéma Murdjajo, in Oran, Algeria.
A community cinema on the outskirts of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
Cinéma L’Ecran, an arthouse movie theatre in Seine-Saint-Denis, France.
Cinéma Le Palace in Tunis, Tunisia, was built in 1903.
The Gala Cinema in London, built in the 1930s with opulent interiors, is now a bingo club.
Kino Aero, one of the oldest arthouse cinemas in Prague, Czech Republic.
Cinema Rialto, built in 1929 in the Art Deco style, Casablanca, Morocco.
Culture in crisis: Policy guide for a resilient creative sector, UNESCO, 2020
The Tracker: Culture & Public Policy, a monthly publication from UNESCO
A Century of Cinema, The UNESCO Courier, July-August 1995
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