A Tour of Copenhagen’s Husets Biograf

Founded in 1970, American expat, the showman and author JACK STEVENSON, takes us round his arthouse cinema in Copenhagen…

Jack Stevenson

I married a Danish woman in 1993, and that’s why I’m over here. At the start of my time in Denmark, I became attached to a small underground move theater in central Copenhagen. I had found it in the late 80s, when I had been coming to Europe every summer, travelling by train with a knapsack full of 16mm film, seeking to show old-school celluloid film shows in theaters around Europe. I became a teacher in the mid 90s, and we moved from Ebeltoft to Copenhagen, where I started to host film screenings at the Husets Biograf café, in which I’m sitting now. We’re the last cinema in Denmark to show films on genuine celluloid… the others went digital in 2013. Husets Biograf is a collection of four buildings abandoned in the 60s, then squatted by a collection of bohemians. After organised crime and drug use problems, this was shut down after six months, and the building reopened with rules.

This building dates from 1911. We’ve been working for six years to make this the most bizarre looking interior in the country, and I think we’ve succeeded! Now we’re moving through two doorways into Denmark’s smallest independent movie theater, in a building put up in 1732. We move through a rickety hallway, up rickety stairs, past the operator’s booth and into a workshop area, where we go up one more step of stairs to the attic: five stories up, in the beams above Copenhagen’s oldest street. This is where we hold meetings and soirées… visiting academic guests have even lived in this room. And this is organically connected to my writing as, in 2004, I joined the cinema as a volunteer, working late for two or three nights a week. There were very few customers, no other volunteers (for five years, the boss never checked in), so this well lit location was a good space to write books. By 1999, after Danish classes, I could read the language quite well, which helped with my research, exploring more thoroughly into the original source material, writing seven books in English on Danish cinema and more articles besides.

JACK STEVENSON is a cinema owner and author.

This article is a Fika Online exclusive.

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