Jill interviewed Liliane and Yannick Sevegnes 7 years ago for Taglines and it is an interesting and still relevant article
Le Cinéma le Querlys – something to celebrate!
Once upon a time – well, in 1968, actually – a young man and a young woman met in St Antonin Noble Val and fell in love. They held their engagement party in what is now the salle of the Querlys, and was then a restaurant. They were Liliane and Yannick Sevegnes, and since 1984 they have been running the cinema that is one of St Antonin’s best assets.
Their project began in 1982, after a fire had destroyed the restaurant on the ground floor of the building, which then belonged to Liliane Sevegnes’ father. The Sevegnes, then agricultural workers, had no practical experience of cinema at all, but a great love of film, and enormous enthusiasm and commitment.
A year’s training in projection at a cinema in Montauban; research and enquiries; encouragement from the Ministry of Culture (Jack Lang, then Minister of Culture, was keen to promote small local cinemas); a government advance (not a grant!); a mortgage on their house; the conversion of the ground floor of the building into a cinema (Liliane’s father was an electrician, and he did all the wiring); the development of links with distributors :- on May 16,1984 the Cinéma le Querlys opened its doors for the first time, showing a film by Georges Rouquier – Briqueferre.
Despite the scepticism of some fellow commerçants (who predicted they’d last 6 months), the cinema has flourished, the number of entrants rising steadily from
13,000 in 1984 to a current 18,500 per year. Yannick and Liliane show 80 films per year, and are proud that just over half are ‘Version Original’. It’s been hard work convincing distributors that, in contrast to the usual French preference for dubbed films, the Querlys has a strong audience for ‘V.O.’ This is very much to do with the high proportion of British, Dutch and other non-French cinema-goers in the Querlys’ audience – they outnumber the French.
The Querlys is entirely self-sufficient, receiving no subsidy of any kind. This gives Liliane and Yannick complete independence in their choice of films. This independence, of course, is what gives their audience the benefit of easy access to varied, thoughtful, high quality programming, in a comfortable, welcoming venue. And it is for the quality of the programming that the Querlys is classified ‘Art et .Essai’, attracting a merit award of 5,000 euros per year – the only money that doesn’t come from ticket sales.
Do they have any aspirations for the future? Only that more people should come to the cinema – and also that other commerçants in St Antonin should recognise and take advantage of the opportunity that the success of the Querlys brings to them. Most restaurants and bars close at the moment the Querlys’ audience is emerging, full of the film they’ve just seen, and ready to prolong the evening over a drink or a bowl of soup.
Through their cinema, Liliane and Yannick make an enormous contribution to the cultural life of this region – we are very fortunate to be the beneficiaries of their passion for the movies.
The Querlys programme comes out at the beginning of each month and are widely available throughout the region.