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Show goes on for French cinema deemed oldest

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The ‘Eden-Theatre’ cinema has been appointed by the Guiness Book of records as ’The oldest purpose-built cinema in operation’, with his first film show in 1899. AFP

Show goes on for French cinema deemed oldest

A cinema on France’s Mediterranean coast has won its bid to be recognised as the oldest still in operation by Guinness World Records, 122 years after its first public screening.

The bright-yellow Eden Theatre in La Ciotat, a resort town outside Marseille, showed some of the first films made by Auguste and Louis Lumiere, the engineer brothers considered the inventors of the motion picture.

“It’s the reward for more than two years of research,” Michel Cornille, president of the association that runs the Eden, said in a statement after the Guinness certification was confirmed earlier this month.

The cinema’s former owner Raoul Gallaud was a friend of the Lumieres’ father, and became a fan after being invited to their summer home in the region for a private screening in 1885.

Gallaud offered to host a projection a few days later but the attempt was bedeviled by technical problems, and the Lumieres ended up doing their first public screening later that year in Paris.

But four years later, on March 21, 1899, the Eden began showing the Lumieres’ films including Boat launch at La Ciotat and The Cowboys of America.

That was the date used by Guinness to deem Eden “the oldest purpose-built cinema in operation”.

“It’s very emotional because all my life I’ve watched my family fight so the Eden will continue to live,” said Marie-Laure Smilovich, the cinema’s managing director and a great-grandchild of of the Lumiere brothers.


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