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Nova cinema in Brussels launches campaign to save flagship indie movie house

12:42 05/11/2023

Brussels’ landmark independent cinema Nova has launched a cooperative campaign to raise €494,000 to secure its long-term future.

With the cinema’s lease ending in May 2024, spiralling property prices could result in a sixfold rent increase. The collective behind the volunteer-run cinema fear it risks closure or have its independence undermined.

“To escape this dark destiny, Nova has invented an ideal owner: Supernova Coop,” it announced in a press release.

“This cooperative company, approved as a social enterprise and labelled ‘Solidarity Finance’, aims to perpetuate the presence of Nova cinema in exchange for the lowest possible rent, to enable it to continue to offer its activities with complete artistic and economic independence," it said.

The team aims to become the owner of the Rue d’Arenberg building via a long lease, guaranteeing its future until at least 2092. 

It would also become the first cooperative cinema in Belgium.

The Supernova Coop campaign – centred on this dual social and cultural mission – needs to raise the money by 31 March.


Share purchase

It invites individuals and organisations to take shares in the cooperative. The two options are €50 ‘supporter shares’ and €1,000 ‘investor shares’. There are no restrictions on the number of shares purchased.

The half a million euro target would enable the cooperative to purchase the building, finance legal and campaign costs and carry out urgent repairs to the building.

Over the next five months of operation Supernova, the cinema is staging a series of fundraising and promotional events.

These include a special programe from January focused on questions of economic solidarity and collective property, the cinema’s 27th birthday celebrations and public information sessions.

It also plans ‘tupperware meetings’ to present the Supernova Coop project to an intimate circle to friends and family plus guided tours of the legendary cinema building with historian Isabel Biver.


Cinema with a difference

Nova cinema has long loomed over Brussels’ cinema scene, holding a unique place in the capital’s cultural life. From its city centre address close to the Grand Place, its dynamic and explosive sign signals that this is a picture house with a difference.

Where the cinema stands out is in its offbeat and risky programming. One-off documentaries, experimental films, never-before-seen shorts and low-budget independent and contemporary productions all find their place within the faded walls of its theatre room. A friendly basement bar adds to the Nova experience.

When the cinema first opened under a two-year agreement in January 1997, its initial goal was to rescue a derelict legendary cinema, the Studio Arenberg. Despite the building changing ownership several times, the collective succeeded in negotiating a lower rent so that it could maintain its independent mission.


Over its first decade the Nova maintained an eclectic approach to its choice of films to screen, particularly in its thematic programmes. It also tackled subjects as diverse as dance in cinema, perceptions of mental health and ethnography.

A steady interest in urbanism, particularly through the outdoor film festival pleinOPENair, paralleled the ongoing real estate threat that the cinema faced. The Offscreen festival also made its home at Nova, each year presenting a dizzying line up of genre and cult films.

Now with the launch of the Supernova Coop, the cinema hopes to finally secure its future and guarantee a home for independent and alternative film screenings in the capital.

Written by The Bulletin