Komsomolets Cinema, the former cinema of the Pathé Brothers film company
In 1877, a seemingly unpretentious mansion was built on Aleksandrovsky Prospect in the center of Vladikavkaz for the wife of the court councilor Alexandra Aksenova. In 1907, Mrs. Aksenova leased out her property for the needs of the cinema - and not to anyone, but to the world's largest film company Pathé Brothers, which was represented in Vladikavkaz by a Mr. Medvedev. Thus, the first cinema in Vladikavkaz appeared two years earlier than in Moscow - this fact perfectly illustrates the pre-revolutionary standard of living in the "outback" of the Russian Empire.
The engineers of the company Pathé Brothers appeared in Vladikavkaz and came to film the life of the Caucasus. At the same time, the display of paintings began in the rented premises. Nazon Sakharov, Samuil Shikhman, Samuil Pozin and Joseph Aptekman became the owners of the cinema. In 1911, the tenants added a "large hall" to the mansion for film screenings - the audience and the number of films had grown rapidly by that time.
They were also the owners of the Pathé Hotel, located on the second floor of the cinema. This building was used not only for movie screenings, but for other entertainment events as well. So, in 1913 the troupe of cyclists-acrobats Breton performed here.
After the revolution, the cinema was nationalized. From the bourgeois Pathé after a series of renames - during the years of Soviet power the cinema was called State Cinema No. 2, then Soviet Cinema No. 2, from 1931 - Gorets - it turned into an ideologically correct Komsomolets, but continued to work remaining the most loved and visited cinema in the city. For many townspeople Komsomolets on Prospect Mira for many years has become a symbol of a happy childhood with morning cinema sessions and ice cream. However, for more than 10 years this symbol has remained in a state of ruin.
Like many other enterprises, the problems of Komsomolets began in the 1990s, when it actually turned into a video salon, where a film could be ordered for viewing for a small fee. With regular film distribution, regular salaries passed away, and later the cinema was completely closed.
“...The building was dilapidated and by the beginning of the 2000s it turned into an emergency state. In 2003, the federal authorities made an attempt to save it, when the Russian Film Cinema program was launched under the Russian Ministry of Culture, according to which a cinema was to be created in every major city (capital of the region), where domestic films would be shown. And Komsomolets was included into this cherished list. According to the agreement concluded between the Republic and the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation, the North Caucasian Cinematheque was to be created on the basis of the cinema, which would allow not only Komsomolets to function as a state cinema, but also to become an educational cinematographic center for the entire federal district.
The same agreement prescribed the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation to supply the equipment of the then latest Dolby system for the needs of the cinema, and the republic, in turn, assumed obligations to invest in overhaul repairs of the building. However, despite the fact that the federal authorities have fulfilled their part of the agreement, the local authorities failed to do it.
Back in 2011, the fact that the republic failed to fulfill its obligations and the emergency state of the cinema - a cultural monument - caused a flurry of indignation among the townspeople, who appealed to the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation with an open letter, urging to deal with the situation. Such masters as Naum Kleiman, Alexander Kott, Sergei Miroshnichenko and other filmmakers, whose opinion the whole world listens to, appealed to the republican authorities. However, the residents of Vladikavkaz waited for the audit or any actions in relation to their favorite cinema in vain, and they could hardly succeed in their waiting, since the original contract had expired, as did the statute of limitations for outstanding obligations.
The ordeal of the cinema, transformed from a unitary enterprise into a joint-stock company, continued: since 2013, it has been repeatedly put up for auction. However, even if there were those who wanted to buy it, it was only for the needs of a store or a shopping center, while the cinema is an object of cultural heritage and it has a protection certificate, and therefore any reconstruction of it is prohibited by law. To save the cinema, first of all, financial support and a multimillion-dollar repair of the damaged building are needed. The republic has no such money. However, the prospect of arranging acting classes in a pre-revolutionary building, originally built for the needs of a cinema, requiring not only large spaces, but also specialized premises, raises many questions, not to mention the fact that it conflicts with the 73rd federal law prescribing preservation of the profile of this cultural heritage site. But the fate of the collection of films brought to the republic by the then director of the Moscow Cinema Museum Naum Kleiman, as well as the equipment delivered according to the original contract, also raises serious questions...” (A.Akoeff “Will “Kosomolets” come to life?”)
In May this year, the government of North Ossetia made a decision to transfer the object of cultural heritage of federal significance - the Komsomolets Cinema in Vladikavkaz to the Mariinsky Theater.
Photo and video materials by Eugeny Ivanov
Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC 4.0)
Personal stories of Vladikavkaz residents
Well, I once decided to go up to town alone, kind of, go for a walk alone. I put on my ironed trousers with stitching, asked my grandmother for permission and went off. I was in the ninth form, it was 1992, maybe. I don't remember where I got one ruble from at that time, probably someone gave it to me, but I definitely decided to spend it on a movie. What else can a ninth-grader spend money on in that dense era? I had almost no friends then. I mean, of course, I had some, but not those with whom I wanted to share my cinema trip and intellectual joy.
In Vladikavkaz, everyone hangs out in the same street, in Prospect Mira (Peace Avenue). In those days there were three cinemas - I chose “Komsomolets”. Now everyone knows that this is the oldest cinema in Russia, once called the "Pathé Brothers Cinema", but then it was a provincial "Komsomolets" – nothing really exciting for anyone.
Before leaving the house, I called there. At that time, we liked to call to the cinema just to listen to the taped voice of a robotic girl announcing the movie listing for the day. That day, the first “Terminator” was on. And I went, because before that I had only watched it on videotape in a cramped video salon.
I think that the phenomenon of video salons has been undeservedly forgotten and has not received a worthy reflection in art. If I were an artist, I would paint a picture – a dark basement, silhouettes of men of all ages crammed like herrings in a barrel, and somewhere far away a TV screen showing an action movie with Stallone.
A bag of muscles on the screen and a bunch of losers in front of it.
And the more I live, the more beautiful this word seems to me – a video salon. This is the place where we dreamed of an absolutely different sparkling world. We were sure that it exists, we just need to break out of the physical boundaries of our country.
Having paid the ruble, that day I once again watched “The Terminator”, which was flattened with a metal press in the end. Being absolutely flattened by what I saw, I got out of the cinema and wandered towards the trolleybus stop. And in the jam-packed trolleybus No. 2, big guys in quilted jackets and women with MOTNANA bags were flattening me for another half hour from all sides.
When I almost got home, I suddenly met my father. He looked at my stitched trousers and asked me where I had been – I explained.
“Do you love cinema so much that you’re ready to go there alone?” he asked me with some hidden reproach, but I felt it.
I felt like I was betraying real life in exchange for illusions. In exchange for fantasies, fictional values and unsteady temptations.
And until now I rack my brain – is it acceptable to go to the cinema alone?
Chief editor of the literary magazine "Daryal"