Gaumont Cinema: 110 years as a stage for national culture

The Gaumont, thanks to the INCAA initiative, became a screen for plural visions that build national identity through culture. Credit: INCAA.

With a history of 110 years on his shoulders, the Gaumont Cinemalocated in Rivadavia Avenue 1635, opposite the Congress Squareit is the inaugural room of the program INCAA spaces. In this sense, he is dedicated to exhibiting national audiovisual productions.

It was founded in 1912 under the name Cinematograph of the Plaza del Congresoto later be renamed the Gaumont Cinema in 1922. The new name was in honor of the Parisian cinema opened in 1911 by Leon Gaumontpioneer in the film industry.

However, the building in which it was located was demolished in the 1930s. In 1946 it had a reopening in the new construction made on the same property.

history of the place

After the appearance of sound films, the next step in the evolution of the audiovisual industry was the Cinemascope. In 1956, the Gaumont incorporated this technology created by 20th Century Fox that allowed watching movies in a widescreen format.

In the 1960s, the cinema acquired the technology Super Cineramawhich projected images simultaneously from three synchronized 35mm projectors onto a giant concave screen.

Gaumont Cinema
Image of the building at Avenida Rivadavia 1635 in the seventies. Credit: INCAA.

In 1995, both the Gaumont and most of the old cinemas in the Autonomous City of Buenos Aires were remodeled to compete with the multi-screen chains that came to the Argentina. The remodeling increased its capacity and it was divided into three rooms.

Since 2003 it has been directed by the National Institute of Cinema and Audiovisual Arts (INCAA) and shows almost exclusively national productions, both fiction and documentaries, on its screens. In addition, it has an accessible entrance, which allows a better access to the public.

Demolition and protection

In 2003, the INCAA rented the cinema from its owners and transformed it into the INCAA space km 0. In April 2012, a year before the rental contract expired, the owners decided not to renew with the institution, to sell the cinema with the aim of demolishing it and building a real estate development.

Days after the news was known, the Buenos Aires legislator Juan Cabandie (FpV), supported by INCAA and a group of industry workers such as Grace Borges, Luis punished Y Paul Echarriintroduced the structural protection bill to preserve the Gaumont building.

Gaumont Cinema
The cinema, located in the building that in 2012 was declared a cultural heritage of the City of Buenos Aires, works as a room for the Espacios INCAA program, dedicated to promoting national audiovisual productions. Credit: INCAA.

This project was approved unanimously in the Buenos Aires Legislature on July 6 of that year. Due to the implementation of this measure, the property cannot be modified or demolished, thus preserving its heritage, historical and cultural value.

In January 2013, INCAA announced that it was in talks to purchase the building. The transaction was carried out on February 19, 2013 and had a cost of 19,500,000 pesos. For two months, the cinema remained closed for a building refurbishment and renovation of screens and the installation of digital projection equipment.

Remodeling, renovation and pandemic

In February 2020, INCAA authorities announced that the cinema would remain closed to the public. Due to different renovations in the building, which included the implementation of safety and hygiene measures. On that occasion, it was planned that the cinema would reopen its doors completely remodeled during the Holy Week.

The work project not only included the remodeling of the rooms but also added improvements to the projection booths and the acoustic system. An online system was also set up for the acquisition of numbered seats and self-service terminals to finalize online ticket purchases.

The three rooms were also renamed. The main one was renamed Leonard Favioroom 2 Mary Louise Bernberg and room 3 Ferdinand BirrYo.

INCAA spaces and national identity

Throughout its history, cinema has represented diverse and complex problems associated with the relationships between cultural identities and the historical processes that shape them.

The INCAA Spaces are part of a program of the cultural organization created in March 2004 with the purpose of guaranteeing the exhibition of the national audiovisual productions. His intention is to recover cinema as a cultural and social fact, as art and entertainment.

In this way, it moves away from the imposition of the mainstream market, which has a dominant position in the world. This is guided by box office receipts and, consequently, subtracts screens from local cinematographic expressions. For their part, the Gaumont and the INCAA Spaces make it possible to make their own national images, language, music, history and identity visible.

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