Documenting Africa’s Old Cinemas

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Sneaking around old art deco cinemas is something we like to do quite often on this site as you know, but today I came across something a little further afield. Starting in Angloa, Germany’s cultural Goethe-Institut is putting together a fascinatingwebsite dedicated entirely to documenting the architecture of Africa’s old cinemas; photographing them, mapping them and finding out as much as they can about them.

Now, if you thought cinemas in the Europe or America were having a tough time staying afloat these days with the take-over of the digital projector, spare a thought from the picture houses of Africa. While some of the art deco cinemas are relatively well-maintained, there are many more in a very sorrowful state.
“The Institute wishes to remember cultural practices and social customs that cinema made possible…”

Cinema Atlantico

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Cinema Atlantico in Luanda, inaugurated in 1966, its first screening was the filmMy Fair Lady (1964). “This cinema became ex-
tremely popular with young people with the holding of rock festivals on Saturday afternoons, which attracted thousands of spectators.”

 

Cine Flamingo

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Cine Flamingo‘s name is derived from its location, an area teeming with flamingos that come there to feed on mollusks and it was chosen by a public competition on the radio. Built in 1963, Lobito, Benguela.

 

Cine Beneficente

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Cine Beneficente, in Catumbela, Benguela, date unknown.

 

Cine Estùdio

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Cine Estùdio, in Namibe. This futuristic cinema was never completed and is now abandoned and in very poor condition. Construction was started on one auditorium before independence. It was not completed and was never used as a cultural building. A rehabilitation project for the space is now underway.

 

Cine-Teatro Nacional

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Cine-Teatro Nacional, built in 1932, the first cinema and theater auditorium to be built in Luanda.

 

Cinema Infante Sagres

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Cinema Infante Sagres, in Lubango, Huila. Almost completely finished and fitted out in 1975, it was considered the biggest and best in Africa at the time. The cinema was never inaugurated.

 

Ciné Teatro Monumental

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Ciné Teatro Monumental, Benguela, built in 1952.

 

Ciné Teatro Impérium

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Ciné Teatro Impérium, Lobito Benguela. After being closed for some years, it has reopened to host various cultural activities. Built in the 1950s.

 

Ciné Teatro Arco Iris

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Ciné Teatro Arco Iris, in Lubango Huila was inaugurated in September of 1974 and has been closed since the mid 1980s. With a 70 mm
screen and a spacious stage, it hosted the most interesting cinema auteurfilm series since independence.

 

Ciné Teatro Odeon

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Ciné Teatro Odeon, built in Lubango, Huila inaugurated in 1955. Nowadays, the cinema belongs to the businessman Fernando Almeida. “Unfortunately, we were unable to discover any further information”.

 

Ciné Ruacaná

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Ciné Ruacaná, in Huambo, built at the end of the 1930s, and located on one of the principal thoroughfares. It has been closed for about 20 years and has had no renovation work since independence.

 

Cine-Teatro Namibe

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Cine-Teatro Namibe, built in the 1940s, it is the earliest example of art deco architecture in the city of Namibe.

 

Ciné Tômbwa

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Ciné Tômbwa (ex Cinema Alexandreuse), an art deco building in Tômbwa capital. It closed as many cinemas did in the 1940s and 50s.

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