12 Rue de la Barre,
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The C.N.P. Bellecour, short for Cinema Nationale Populaire, forms part of a circle of cinemas assembling C.N.P. Bellecour, Terreaux and Odeon. The latter sadly closed in 2009, however.
While the cinema is certainly not a ‘cinema treasure’ architecture-wise, it intrigues me with its consistent anti-commercial attitude and its rigorous programming of also the most difficult arthouse films.
The cinema is situated in the very centre of Lyon next to the banks of the Rhone river. The cinema entrance is quite discreet, you buy the tickets directly at the entrance (box office at street level). Do not even think of an enchanting foyer or a concession stand… After entering you either go to the screening rooms at ground level or in the basement. The screening rooms are already quite old and lack any décor. They have black seats and grey walls, the screens are – given the rather small size of the rooms – correct.
Even if the description might not cause anybody to dream, there is something avant-garde and superior about this place. The concept is obviously to do without any unnecessary luxury and give the hardcore cinefile what they want. The most demanding and beautiful (or terrible) arthouse films are almost always screened at the C.N.P. Bellecour (or Terreaux) and overwhelmingly in original version. As a consequence, the people frequenting the cinema are mostly of the rather intellectual kind concentrating very much on the film. In short, the cinema C.N.P. is something for purists but has always satisfied me with its good choice of films and its special atmosphere.
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