Charlie Pereniguez: “We will maintain our prices at Diago”

The director of Diagonal has decided. Despite the rise in the price of energy and the drop in attendance which are affecting the turnover of the Montpellier cinema, the ticket will remain at the same price next year. The year ends with the Children’s Film Festival.

During the holidays, the Diagonal cinema dedicates a large part of its programming to young audiences with screenings open to children from 3 years old. Is this your annual end-of-year meeting?

It’s a Diagonal tradition. I have never known a year without this children’s film festival. This year, it is particularly ambitious because we have a lot of sessions and activities. We have four workshops, double the number of previous years.

Tell us about these workshops.

The children will be able to make a small animated film by manipulating modeling clay in the manner of Wallace and Gromit. A second workshop will handle film. There will be screenings in 8 and 16 mm.

While there are many television channels and platforms dedicated to children, is it important for you to invite them to take their place in a cinema?

The first film session in the life of a human, I find it crazy. Thereafter, we see hundreds of films! Whenever I see parents who tell me, “my child has seen the first film of his life at Diagonal”, I admit that I have a certain pride. And there is this openness to the world. If practiced from an early age, it gives good habits.

Particularity of your festival, there are not only animated films. There is a Buster Keaton from 5 years old and Despedida for the older ones. For the latter, which is a fantastic film, you accompany the projection.

After the film, there is a game-discussion. It will give keys to understanding the film. There may be things that will be scary, others that have not been understood. If there are gray areas, Monica, our mediator for young audiences, can shed some light.

Let’s take stock of the year now. When we look at the admission figures at the national level, we have the impression of having gone through a horrible year with a month of September, historically low with 7.38 million admissions. Do you confirm this drop in entries for the Diagonal?

If we compare to other years, like 2018 – and not 2019 which was a very good year – we are below with -20% admissions. But the decline in admissions is not continuous. It stabilized at a lower volume, remaining around -15 or -18%. We may be doing a little better than the others. We are no longer at -20%.

Which films have worked?

In Body by Cédric Klapisch, Without Filter, by Swedish Ruben Östlund, the Palme d’Or at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival, and L’innocent by Louis Garrel.

Is there a Montpellier particularity?

A diagonal particularity, let’s say. We made great entries on Reprise en main, the film by Gilles Perret. With him and François Ruffin, we did an outdoor screening last year which brought together 800 people at Tropisme. So there is a follow-up to his films. We are also oriented on social and political subjects. These are films that do well for us.

Don’t you miss Avatar 2 too much?

No, insofar as we remain faithful to our values, to our programming. We do not program films to fill the coffers at all costs. Avatar will fill the coffers of other cinemas. We pull our pin of the game on something else. We didn’t have the James Bonds either. But that’s not a problem. Damien Chazelle’s Babylon will be released. There, we will do more figures.

How do you experience the rise in energy prices?

It is a scandal. Since September, in three months, we have eaten up the budget for the year 2021. We have more than quadrupled the bill.

In this context, how do you envisage 2023?

I’ve decided that we won’t raise the fares one penny. Even if it’s complicated for us, we’re not going to go into this inflationary spiral. We will maintain our rates. And we will continue to do what we know how to do, debates, openness to cultures that we do not know. Afterwards, we have to see if the trend of 2022 is confirmed or if there are changes. We are still under observation.

Children’s Film Festival. From Wednesday 21 December to Monday 2 January. Cinema Diagonal, 5 rue de Verdun, Montpellier. From 3 years old. Info and prices:

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Charlie Pereniguez: “We will maintain our prices at Diago”