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Tiny Ixelles cinema Styx to reopen after renovation

07:04 08/10/2022

A 1970s cinema that once occupied a building on Rue de l'Arbre Bénit in Ixelles is being resurrected for a third time, now with hopes of becoming a cultural centre for the neighbourhood.

The market for cinemas was difficult even before the coronavirus pandemic saw a total shutdown of the cultural sector, but Ziyed Ayachi hopes that Styx can reinvent itself as something more than just a place to watch films.

“We know that it's not the cinema that's going to keep the project going,” Ayachi told RTBF.

As the future operator of the boutique theatre, he hopes that Styx will endure as a neighbourhood gathering spot that serves its community in a variety of ways – sometimes, but not always, related to film.

“We’ll offer stand-up comedy on the first floor and a small bar,” explained Ayachi.

“We will also welcome schools and associations for activities. This will allow us to obtain subsidies from the municipality and the region and it will also allow us to have an educational role towards young people.”

Styx’s two intimate screening rooms will hold no more than 40 seats each, which makes it unlikely to be a noise nuisance in its very residential location. In fact, Ixelles is looking forward to having the boutique theatre back.

“When it closed, we didn't think that this cinema would ever reopen,” said Yves Rouyet, the alderman for urban planning.

“For us, the municipality, it is very interesting because the cinema will offer alternative films, which are not found in the big complexes. It will also offer activities to schools and will enrich the cultural offerings which are already important in Ixelles.”

Styx first opened in the 1970s and lasted until 2015, when it closed its doors for the first time. It was reopened in the same year, but shut down once more as a result of the pandemic.

Ayachi is hoping this will be a case of third time lucky.

The young entrepreneur is also the manager of a popular bar nearby, and wanted to find a place to further develop the stand-up comedy offerings he was already exploring there.

He will be living in the flat located just above the cinema in order to avoid having to modify the building with a separate entrance.

“This was one of the conditions to get the project,” Ayachi said.

“When we spoke to the family of Styx’s original founder, Claude Diouri (now deceased), they explained to us that they had grown up in this house, going up and down the stairs to go and have a snack at their uncle's place upstairs. So maybe in the future I'll be the uncle of some of the children in the neighbourhood.”

Styx hopes to screen its first film in September 2023, once renovations are complete.

“We really want to be part of the neighbourhood, to be in contact with the inhabitants,” said Ayachi.

“We're also thinking of relaunching screenings of horror or B movies on Friday and/or Saturday evenings, as was done in the great days of neighbourhood cinemas. We have many projects planned.”

Written by Helen Lyons