Spotlight on the north: the cinema

For much of the last century, running a cinema in Mallorca was a complicated business, and Mallorca was not unique in that regard. Cinemas in Spain were popular with the general public, but they were not popular with the Catholic Church. From the earliest days of cinema, the church believed that this could only mean one thing – immorality.

Cinema owners should therefore be aware of the church power and its influence on the diets of the day. In Palma, a cinema had been established in 1908 by, believe it or not, the Circle of Catholic Workers of Palma. It existed until 1923. The first dictator, Miguel Primo de Rivera, was now in charge. A month after his coup d’état in September 1923, the Catholic Workers cinema was closed by the civil administration.

Technical reasons were invoked, those related to the building. Or so the explanation is gone.
As difficult as life can be, Mallorca’s first real cinema was created in 1913: not in Palma but in Llucmajor – the Cinema Recreatiu. It had developed from what was a billiard inspired and ‘trendy’ cafe. games in american landsAs one clergy columnist puts it. Other cinemas were to emerge – Palma eventually had a number of them – and a curious dual system of cinema ownership also arose. There were cinemas like Recreatiu and there were those that were the descendants of Catholic workers’ cinema – parish cinemas.

The role of the latter was essentially educational. Competitively, the intention was to try and get young people to be dissuaded from going to other cinemas, where all kinds of immorality and perversion were in the spotlight. After Franco became dictator, parish cinemas, as you can imagine, gained a greater impetus, while parishes also understood that these cinemas were a good source of income. One of these parish cinemas, the Cine Col-legi, was in Pollença.

It existed from 1934 to 1956. Where it was, I don’t know. Maybe someone is doing it. It was not the first place to show films in Pollensa. In 1908, when the Catholic workers of Palma founded their cinema, the former Teatre Principal brought films to the village. As for a dedicated cinema, like the Recreatiu, the first appeared in 1927 – El Saló Modern, owned by a certain Rafel Sergent, which was located on C. Alcudia, leading to Plaça Major.

The Cine Capitol was also close to Plaça Major. It was built in 1944 by Guillem Cifre Seguí. Three years later, a businessman from the cinema, Rafel Salas Vilanova, bought it. For a while in the 1950s there were around five movie theaters in Pollença. These were the golden years when the cinema was at its peak, before television from 1956 began to make its entrance.

Rafel had built up a network of cinemas in Mallorca, and in 1955 he was said to have problems with the parish cinema in Pollença. The provincial delegation of FET y de las JONS – Phalange Española Tradicionalista y de las Juntas de Ofensiva Nacional Sindicalista – the only legal party in Spain, had to get involved when Rafel denounced Cine Col-legi for apparently showing films by “First”.

The point was that although parish cinemas were good livelihoods (in theory only through donations rather than the price of admission), they were supposed to stick to the educational mission. The preview movies that were shown were like box office hits of the day. And Rafel’s box office was supposed to benefit, not that of the parish. Besides, what about potential immorality and perversion – in a parish cinema !?

the first real cinema in Mallorca was created in 1913

The authorities were beginning to ignore the conditions of these parish cinemas. Currently, there are rules for public performances – minimum health and safety requirements, for example. The civil administration of Mallorca has started to shut them down. The curious story of the double cinema system has taken an even stranger turn. There were scenes of violence when security forces clashed with rectors and parishioners defending their cinemas.

It was very good news for Rafel. Thus, when it filed its complaint, the FET wanted to side with its side. And did. Cine Col-legi closed the following year. It was to continue as an open-air cinema in the summer, but any competitive threat to the Cine Capitol had been eliminated. In 1956, Rafel’s son, Rafel Salas Llompart, took over the company, expanding it further and making it the largest cinema company in the Balearics.

Not far from the Cine Capitol, Club Pollença began showing the strange film in the 1960s. In April 1975, a Cine-Club of Club Pollença was entered in the official register of film clubs. Apparently there was such a thing. The film clubs were undoubtedly subject to rules as to what they could show. Club Pollença was not in direct competition with the Cine Capitol; the screenings were limited and intriguing. But competition from elsewhere began to emerge, and not just television. The Cine Capitol struggled, but in 2001 the last film was screened.

The Cine Capitol was also close to Plaça Major - is the Cine Capitol

In 2015, the town hall of Pollensa acquired the cinema for 850,000 euros. It was not the whole property as there is also a commercial unit and accommodation on the ground floor. The Salas family continued to own them. Tomeu Cifre was mayor at the time: “The objective is to transform the old cinema into a new cultural facility under public management to be the nerve center of the village and to stage a significant number of cultural activities – theater, cinema, music.
The Capitol Cinema had some 460 seats and a floor space of 230 square meters. Modifications would allow it to become a complementary room to the cloister of Sant Domingo. The outdoor concerts were good, but not in the winter. There had to be a dedicated place.

The purchase and restoration of the old cinema has not gone smoothly since. In 2017, the anti-corruption prosecutor took an interest in the amount that had been paid. Was it higher than the real value? This case was parked, then negotiations began regarding the purchase of the ground floor. In April 2019, the town hall, then under Junts Avançam as opposed to Tots de Tomeu Cifre (formerly Partido Popular for Tomeu), admitted that the family was reluctant to part with it. Could a part be acquired then?

Meanwhile, the administration was finalizing tendering procedures for ideas on how to restore the building. Today, and almost three years later, the town hall announced a call for tenders – 100,000 euros – for the project allowing work to start, off the ground floor. If all goes as planned, which would be unusual for recent cinema history, construction could begin in three to four months.

In principle, and despite the time it took, this is a good project. A building of a certain heritage interest will be restored and put to use. However, along the way since 2015, a question has arisen as to the size of a stage. Will it be able to accommodate an orchestra? Apparently not. Or at least that’s what has been said. Still, one goal is to complement Sant Domingo, where orchestras can be hosted.

And so we come to what was a fortuitous announcement in 2015, one that at the time would have been pretty much ignored. Looking back, however, this was more important than it looked. The town hall indicated that in addition to the purchase of the cinema, it would buy three sites. One of them was for the modest sum of 23,000 euros. It was a field bordering Ca n’Escarritxo, the former football field, and would allow permanent access to the field, which the town hall did not actually own.

A few weeks ago, you will probably remember, the town hall held a day in Ca n’Escarritxo. He still doesn’t have it, but intends to. With that intention in mind, but apparently without having a clear idea of ​​what he will do with Ca n’Escarritxo, citizens were invited to make suggestions. One of the main ones was for a covered municipal concert hall, a good option because there is none. The concerts, with a suitable size and with a certain regularity, must take place in the open air in the cloister.

Indeed, but was it not part of the reflection for the acquisition of Cine Capitol? The old cinema, by the way, is supposed to be – in the words of Tomeu Cifre – a nerve center, which Ca n’Escarritxo, given the location, cannot be.

There is therefore the prospect of two places to complete Sant Domingo, because the same justification has been made for both. All this and without forgetting that Club Pollença can serve as a venue, but there is also Colonya Bank restoration project of the old textile factory in Can Morató. Isn’t it due to a kind of cultural space?

From relative famine to relative feast, Pollensa could become blessed by the presence of several places. Recalling the golden years of cinema in the fifties before it became apparent that five theaters were a bit too many. Different times of course. Different needs and different goals, but would Pollensa demand them all?

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