History of the Cine-Club

The film club at ESOC was founded by Serge Rodgold in the 70s. At that time, it was difficult for francophones in Darmstadt to watch French or Belgian movies. There was no cable or satellite TV to receive international channels and not even DVD or Blu-ray! The expatriate was much more isolated from the home country than is the case now.

At first, large reels of 16mm films were projected in the canteen at ESOC for the francophones. Alain Schuetz was one of the volunteers who ran the club for many years. Then videotapes took over and were projected on to a screen in a small room at ESOC.

When Gerard Servoz
came along, he thought that it was unfortunate that French language films were only accessible to club members and their families at ESOC. He wanted to bring French film culture to all inhabitants of Darmstadt. In the early 90s, he took the initiative to start a collaboration with the student film club at the Technical University(TU) Darmstadt. From that time on, the film club took the form that we know today.


 A word from Karin Servoz

Gerard found a very creative way to express his love of chocolate!

As the film club was quite successful and made ​​a profit, and as we were often in Belgium, he thought that the Cine Club could offer a little chocolate snack with each ticket.

Once, during a business trip, he received chocolates made with the logo of the firm and thought that he could do the same for the Cine Club.

Soon after, on one of our trips to Brussels, he contacted a small chocolate company specialising in logos and they then made the chocolates for the Cine Club using a mould that Gerard had a lot of fun in designing.

 Memoirs of Alain Schuetz

I took over the club around 1975. The reels of 16 mm film arrived by special courier the day before the screening and had to be returned the next day to be distributed to several other clubs in Hessen.
The sessions were held in the canteen, but, as the number of  B&W classic French films available was limited, pretty much the same movies were shown every two or three years and, as a result, the number of spectators decreased.
But with advances in technology we moved on to project films from video cassettes in a small room on the top floor of the
Meteosat building It was Gerard Servoz who obtained the tapes, from a Belgian distributor, I think. Even though the films were more recent, the audience was still fairly small.
In 1985 Serge and I went to Pasadena / California for the first launch attempt of the Ulysses satellite and it is perhaps then that the club grew to it's present form in Audimax.

Serge Rodgold reminiscences

It was the British who first started an English language film club at ESOC. So the projection facilities already existed when I came in. I contacted the French Institute in Frankfurt to get hold of films in French. We sourced the film library in Rue Ulm and other experimental Parisian cinemas (Huchette, Pagoda, Ursuline, etc..).

The audience was very small which created an intimate atmosphere. To end the evening, I served baguettes and garlic sausages which I brought in from France, mostly from Strasbourg. With great pleasure, we washed  these down with a rough red, which helped us to attract even a few non-French speaking members.

Parisian cinephile friends gave me the address of a movie rental company, which allowed us to show more recent films. One of them comes back to me especially. It was a very funny film about the rugby tournament of the five nations. The film's message was 'We're the Best!', and the subject attracted some English colleagues who we consoled their defeat in the film with sandwiches and a better quality wine (Brouilly). As we were often away on a mission, the responsibility of running the club was shared between colleagues.

During one of my last trips to Darmstadt, I learned that there was an ESOC Cine Club night scheduled, so I decided to stay over just so I could attend. By then, the cine club had already moved to Audimax. I was totally overwhelmed by the number of spectators who numbered dozens, if not hundreds. Wonderful!!!