News / The Network


The Network - 20/04/2010


Dominique Bax, director of the Magic Cinéma in Bobigny


The Magic Cinéma is the iconic establishment in Bobigny, a town of 50,000 people located to the north-east of Paris in the department of Seine-Saint-Denis. Last year it became part of the Europa Cinemas Network. Boasting two screens, one with 363 seats and another with 160 seats, a varied programme of activities geared towards young audiences and the support and backing of the town, one of the main events it organises is the Theatres at the Cinema Festival. The 21st edition of the Festival has just taken place in April. On this occasion, we spoke to Dominique Bax, its director, who was keen to quote Godard to start with: “I think when we started the policy of film d’auteur, we valued the word “auteur” over policy, which was a mistake. Because the whole idea of this concept was not to demonstrate who is doing the directing but what makes the direction.”



Which role do you assign to cinema… and film theatre?

Cinema is an open window on the world. You embark on a journey from the comfort of your seat. To northern Europe with Nord, to Italy with La Pivellina and to Africa with White Material. On the way, you get to see different worlds and new cultures. You learn tolerance, you stir your curiosity, you learn, you laugh, you cry…  And as in literature or painting you discover different styles: realism, fantasy, romance. Cinema is an essential part of our lives. The film theatre, as we design it, is therefore a place of discovery and a place to meet, with directors, actors, crew members and film critics. It is a place for exchanging ideas where people can share an experience. Somewhere people can socialise too.

How would you define what constitutes your “competition”, either with other cinemas or other modes of entertainment?

Our closest neighbour is a UGC Ciné Cité multiplex, one of the busiest cinemas in the Ile-de-France region. But we are not part of the same world; we do not have the same objectives. We do not champion the same films. As far as other forms of art are concerned, we see them as being complementary to what we do. We regularly work with the Bobigny arts centre, the library and the college of music. We establish links with other arts: with Cine-lectures (a reading followed by a film), Cine-concerts or meetings with theatre directors who come and speak about their favourite films.

Do you think the audiences have changed at your cinema over the past few years?

Film enthusiasts have several cinema channels at their disposal which carry films, DVDs, VoD, etc. So, we have to give them something else: events, rare films, collected works or a warm welcome. And let them discover European films which can only be seen in our cinemas. Specific events therefore bolster the cinema’s monthly programming. The Theatres at the Cinema Festival, this year featuring the collected works of Youssef Chahine, adaptations at the cinema by Naguib Mahfouz, a self-portrait of Omar Sharif in his presence, a tribute to Albert Camus; the festival Resonances, Encounters People’s Cinema, running for the 11th time in October with Gérard Mordillat as special guest and a tribute to Jacques Demy; the Encounters Documentary Film, which takes place monthly; special themed evenings, for example, dedicated to Brittany or the overseas territories (in May on the occasion of the commemoration of the fight against slavery)…

The Magic Cinéma joined the Europa Cinemas Network last year. In your opinion, what is the role of the nNetwork today?

We would like to see exchanges with other European cinemas. We would like, for example, the Chahine collective, which was so hard to organise, to be able to be shown in other cinemas in the Network. We would therefore be able to host programming of films from a European country presented by a cinema director from the country concerned.

And to finish on the festival, what could you say about the relationship between the theatre, literature, cinema... and reality?

“Art, in some ways, is a rebellion against the world in that which is elusive and incomplete… It is not a matter of knowing if art has to flee from reality or to submit to; it is simply a question of knowing what precise dose of reality the work needs to support itself with so as not to disappear into the hordes or limp along, instead, encumbered by lead weights.” Albert Camus, Discours de Suède.


Interview led by Jean-Baptiste Selliez,