Background information and history lesson
Filmhuis Cavia has been showing special films with a minimal budget on a non-profit base for more than 30 years at a special location in Amsterdam, namely the old Prinses Beatrix Schippers boarding school between the Van Hall and De Kempenaarstraat, which we share with many artists and a kickboxing school.
Filmhuis Cavia was founded in 1983 by a squatters' movement from the Staatsliedenbuurt, including the now deceased producer René Scholten. Nobody knows where the name 'Cavia' comes from, but it is suggested that it is derived from the former name Cultural Audiovisual Center Amsterdam (CAVCA) or Kollektief Audiovisual Kafé Amsterdam (KAFKA).
With only 40 seats, we are one of the smallest cinemas in the Netherlands, and the smallest in Amsterdam. We still show some of our films on 16 and 35 mm. All employees are volunteers from the very beginning. Filmhuis Cavia sticks to the do-it-yourself mentality of the squatters' movement. Which means that we do everything ourselves, including repairs. Cavia is a non-profit organization and receives a subsidy from the West district.
In the past 31 years, Filmhuis Cavia has set up many film initiatives around the world and we have trained many people to become film operators and programmers. Festivals that once started small in Cavia are, for example, Roze Filmdagen, CinemAsia and KLIK! Animatiefestival.
Nowadays Filmhuis Cavia hosts special film programs in the field of (sexual/gender) diversity, such as the TranScreen filmfestival. Cavia celebrates diversity!
Every summer, Filmhuis Cavia screens films 'for the neighbourhood' in/near Amsterdam West, at beautiful locations such as the Buurtboerderij in the Westerpark, Museum Het Schip in the Spaarndammerbuurt, the Van Beuningenplein in the Staatsliedenbuurt, the Pesthuislaan at the former Wilhelmina Gasthuis complex and in Amsterdam South at the microbrewery Butcher's Tears in front of the door.
Furthermore, Filmhuis Cavia is the first cinema in the Netherlands where you can pay for drinks and tickets for the film with Bitcoins. Cavia is also a member of the Cinevillepas, and can be visited for minimum wages with film prices of only 5 euros (film clubs even 3 euros).
Another fun fact to conclude:
The movie theater only held 39 seats for a long time, because according to a myth, a movie theater with fewer than 40 seats was legally allowed to pass for sex cinema. However, this story is somewhat outdated. The legislation in this area is slightly different: it was forbidden to show unapproved hard porn films in regular cinemas. That was only allowed in sex cinemas and a cinema with more than 50 seats was not allowed to be a sex cinema.
Cavia could therefore legally add another 10 chairs, but this would not have fit in our room – of the smallest and most charming cinema in Amsterdam.
(Tekst: P. van Galen, A. Mientjes, D. Vergeer)
Photo by Guillermo Florez
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