‘Two out of ten films you see with us, you will remember for the rest of your life’

After about three months of trial run, the official opening of Slachtstraat Filmtheater will take place on 5 August. Including a free open-air performance of the musical documentary Summer of Soul† The new film house can be found on the old site of ‘t Hoogt in the center of the city. There were once plans to convert these buildings into homes, but the idea of ​​the Utrecht Monuments Fund, owner of the property, fell through. Jos Stelling, owner of the Louis Hartlooper Complex and Springhaver, came up with the idea to open a new cinema there. We asked Jos how the test run went in recent months and where he gets his inspiration from in Utrecht.

How did the test run go over the past few months?

“You always have to wait and see how it goes. There is also a lot of technology involved. The projectors are all new. It was said that heating no longer played a role. That turned out to be the case. All those cabins had to be cooled via the central cooling system. Furthermore, there are quite heavy basses and the sound walls must be in order. You are of course not allowed to hear the halls among themselves. It could still get a little busier, but that’s coming. Spring is not the ideal time to open, but we did that on purpose. That way we could get used to it. We also did that with Louis Hartlooper. We are very positive and very happy. It has become a unique movie house. It’s fantastic for the downtown area and for that place. There should be a movie house there.”

What else happens on August 5?

“We also have a movie quiz that Friday. Furthermore, everyone who buys a ticket during the opening weekend will receive a gift.”

Why did Slachtstraat Filmtheater come about?

“I’m actually a filmmaker. It was never my ambition to have one or more movie houses, but it is a lot of fun. Springhaver I acquired from Tuschinski. The Louis Hartlooper Complex opened a few years after the municipality had a plan to start a large art cinema. Springhaver should be part of that. I didn’t like that. With the help of others I came across the former Tolsteeg police station. We show you what you can do without subsidy. I always used to come to ‘t Hoogt. It was my tent, my center. A year after it closed, I was walking through town on a Sunday morning. I looked inside and saw that it was decaying. I called and asked if there was nothing that could be done about it.”

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Photo: Rogier Veldman

Do you still care about the movies that are being played?

“My daughter Roos does that. She attended the Film Academy in Brussels and has very good taste. We developed it together. Our target audience is 40+ and especially female audience. The big picture is that you have movies that run after the audience and movies that run ahead of the audience. The first are the big blockbusters. Thanks to those films, cinemas still exist. But there are also films with a risk: they are released to the public. If you go to the movies with us, chances are you won’t like it. Because the movie is too slow, or because things happen in it that don’t interest you. But two of the ten films that you see with us, you will not forget for the rest of your life. You already lost those other blockbusters before you get home. It’s up to you to take that gamble.”

What is your favorite place in Utrecht?

“There isn’t one. I know every place in Utrecht. And what is your favorite place? The feeling when you walk through the city on a beautiful summer Sunday morning. You don’t know what you see. Then it is such a fantastic city.”

What is Utrecht missing?

“A city museum: a place where you go with a friend who wants to know something about Utrecht.”

What is your favorite store in Utrecht?

“That is Kwartier: the lamp shop on the Oudkerkhof. It’s an old shop with old lamps. There I selected all my lamps for the Slachtstraat.”

Who is your favorite Utrechter?

“Peter Fox. He was a great Utrecht artist and a special man. He was at the Springhaver opening. He passed away twelve years ago and hangs honorably with a photo in the exhibition of Utrecht artists in the Slachtstraat. He also received a Maartens medal from the city.”

Where do you get your inspiration from in Utrecht?

“From the real Utrechters. There aren’t that many anymore. With their humor and their ‘just do it’ mentality. They all have a blind love for the city. You should not touch that.”

Utrecht is…

“…the center of the world.”