Lumière Festival: Le CiNéMa Club’s CEO Marie-Louise Khondji on Financing a Free VOD Player and Online Collection Curation

Le CiNéMa Club is at the Lumière Festival for the first time to take part in a panel on VOD and streaming platforms

Marie-Louise Khondji
Brigitte Lacombe

LYON – In town for a panel on VOD and streaming platforms at this year’s Lumière Festival is Le CiNéMa Club, www.lecinemaclub.com, a web-based streaming-platform for classic and under-represented films.

A streaming-platform at a festival is not necessarily anything to write home about, but this site is rare , particularly when it comes to its cost – a royal $0 annually.

Le CiNéMa Club uploads one film a week each week, and takes it down the next. Each film streamed can be watched at anytime, from nearly anywhere on the planet with a WiFi signal.

The screened films feature articles with extensive background information on the film and its director. The selected films vary in genre, length and format, but frequently showcase new filmmakers or less-known works from established directors. Typically short films are showcased, but in the past the site has also streamed documentaries, features and on occasion experimental cinema.

Another feature on the site are film lists put together by industry professionals and cinephiles alike. Included are lists from Wes Anderson, Isabelle Huppert, Robert Pattinson, Léa Seydoux and more.

Some films seen on the site are exclusive to Le CiNéMa Club, but typically once a film is no longer available to screen, audiences are redirected to other sites where they can purchase the films for themselves.

Le CiNéMa Club CEO Marie-Louise Khondji talked with Variety about her first trip to the Lumière Festival, funding a free VOD player and online curation.

What is Le CiNéMa Club doing at this year’s Lumiere festival?

We were invited to participate in a panel about VOD and streaming platforms. I couldn’t be more excited as I’m a huge fan of classic cinema and it’s my first time at the Festival Lumière. I’m looking forward to introducing Le CiNéMa Club to the festival, including the International Classic Film Market (MIFC), as well as finding films to present on the platform.

It’s wonderful that Le CiNéMa Club can provide this type of service for free, and ad-free. How is the service funded?

With our model, we can operate the site at a low cost as we’re neither licensing films nor building a catalog. We promote and highlight only one film every week, with the permission of the rights-holders. The goal is to give visibility to films and filmmakers, while offering our audience the opportunity to discover work they might not otherwise see.  This first iteration of the platform has largely worked on a promotional basis – oftentimes we work with a distributor to present films by filmmakers who have a feature in theaters, or we partner with institutions such as festivals and museums to highlight certain series or exhibits, etc.  We are currently working on future plans for the site, which include our talking to potential partners and investors as we grow into our next phase.

Where do you get the films from? Who is responsible for the curation and acquisition of the selected films?

It’s a case-by-case situation. We typically find films through distributors, producers, festivals, the press, cinephiles, or directly from filmmakers. We have a small team, and we do all of the curation and acquisitions ourselves, with great help of various contributors and friends of the site. We feel very lucky to be part of a community that supports cinema.