Local campaigners have been left seething after it was announced that – contrary to initial promises – the historic Femina cinema is unlikely to ever resume a cultural role. The landmark movie house, sold in 2014 to budget supermarket chain Biedronka, had been subject to a vociferous campaign to keep it alive, with one supportive Facebook page attracting close to 25,000 likes. Faced with such protests, Biedronka had originally declared their intention to preserve the building’s cinematic legacy by reopening one screen once the supermarket was up and running.
Now, nearly two years after Femina closed its doors, Biedronka have seemingly backtracked on their pledge citing problems with building permits. While they have at least confirmed that the cinema’s iconic neon will remain in place, protestors see this as little more than a token move. “We’ve been cheated,” said Karol Perkowski, “first they said there will be a cinema and now they say there won’t.”
Built in 1935, Kino Femina had been Warsaw’s longest-running cinema until its closure. Having survived WWII (during which time it served as a German cabaret, then a Jewish theater which saw performances by Maria Ajzensztadt, a.k.a. The Nightingale of the Ghetto), it went onto become one of the capital’s best loved cinemas: during one record breaking run, over 117,000 people watched Ogniem i Mieczem. Now, hopes that it will ever hold screenings again appear to have faded.