by Catherine Rierson

The Action Christine façade — its original name, Studios Christine, in gold-trimmed, capital letters and mounted on worn stone — is like a declaration of honor, a silent demand of respect for this strangely quiet place in the pulsing center of Paris.

The theater lies within the narrow, turning and twisting labyrinth of the 6th arrondissement on rue Christine — the namesake of the Duchesse Christine of France, second daughter of Henri IV and Marie de Médicis, for which the cinema was named on April 6, 1973. Tucked beneath the arches of a 17th century building and behind a massive carriage door, the Action Christine is like an old, precious gem.

With a celebrated and storied film culture, Paris has a large concentration of small, independent theaters (especially on the famous Rive Gauche, home to the Action Christine) that typically project films from different movements, time periods or countries. The Action Christine — renowned for screening classical Hollywood films and particularly famous for its 1986 re-release of Ernst Lubitsch’s acclaimed work “The Shop Around the Corner”, which attracted roughly 130,000 spectators —is tantamount to Parisian independent film culture.

The Action Christine seems especially intimate, though. Its bright lobby, whose cream walls are peppered with black and white posters of old Hollywood films, is quiet and warm. In the darkened auditorium, of which there are two, the armchairs — red, slightly worn cushions that give just enough when you sit down — seem to gently pull you into them. The audience is just as relaxed, too: waiting patiently in front of the blank screen, many will be reading the cinema’s weekly newsletter, while others silently study something they’ve brought along with them, perhaps a folder of sketches, or a notebook.

It’s a comfortable place — and it’s the perfect compliment to Cinema 7 Parnassiens, the primary theater for this year’s ÉCU — European Independent Film Festival. Not only is it the ideal setting for projecting the Official Selection, but, as a veritable art-house theater, Action Christine is an appropriate venue for ÉCU’s series of discussions and workshops on filmmaking. Inherently intimate both in size and ambiance, the Action Christine was made exclusively for this sort of experience.

Cinema Action Christine
http://www.actioncinemas.com/

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