December was the month to start our expedition through the projection booths of Amsterdam: nothing better to start things off than a non-profit, volunteer run cinema and cultural space imbued with the old-school spirit of the Amsterdam of the 1980s!
Filmhuis Cavia has been up and running for over 30 years with a minimal budget thanks to the love, dedication and hard work of a relentless group of volunteers that love cinema and hold on to the do-it-yourself mindset that originated Filmhuis Cavia in the first place. The smallest cinema of Amsterdam, owing its name to the 40 lavish velvety green seats that make up the screening room, was founded in 1983 by a squatter’s movement. It remains a non-profit organization partially supported by Amsterdam’s West district. It is located on Van Hallstraat 52, on a low-key building accessible through a courtyard, on the first floor, just above a kick boxing gym.
Film is, of course, at the heart of Filmhuis Cavia’s activities. Besides the weekly screenings, often screened in 16mm and 35mm film projectors, Filmhuis Cavia also runs film festivals, special film programs and itinerant screenings.
Ronald Blazkowicz – an experimental filmmaker and volunteer at Cavia – was the man who showed us the booth and gave us a little insight into its long-standing operation and activities. The booth is of course a mirror image of the do-it-yourself environment of the rest of the space. Film posters and other serendipitous affiches cover the walls of the booth; the furniture is a motley assemblage of miscellaneous findings, each one bearing the charming aura of one of its kind objects that have survived oblivion; and even the tools of the craft of film screening appear to have been carefully assorted by the ventures of chance and shrewd recycling.
Screening wise, Filmhuis Cavia currently operates with a high-definition digital projector, an Eiki EX-6100 16mm film projector, a portable Eiki EX-400P film projector used for outdoor screenings and a heavy-duty decommissioned 35mm film projector. The apparatus is complemented by a Cinemeccanica rewinder table, a couple of splicers and 16mm and 35mm lenses.
Overall, we discovered that film is alive and kicking in this booth!
Photos and Text by Sofia Pires.