Europa Cinemas turns the spotlight on the relationship between cinemas and the community
by David González
- The international cinema network organised a gathering in Seville to discuss how cinemas can maintain their vital role in the lives of the cities in which they operate
How can cinemas continue to be essential places for the communities they serve? That’s the question that was asked by Europa Cinemas, the international cinema network for the circulation of European films, at the 13th Seville European Film Festival. From 10 to 13 November, the festival’s Audience Development and Innovation Lab welcomed 36 film exhibitors from 14 different European countries with the aim of identifying and sharing sustainable practices and strategies for attracting audiences.
The Lab was opened by José Luis Cienfuegos, the festival’s director, and Fatima Djoumer, Head of International Relations and Events at Europe Cinemas. Attendees were left in no doubt as to its raison d’être: the need to reach out to the communities and audiences that support (and are a part of) each cinema, in order to retain their interest. In pursuit of this goal, absolutely everything matters: from the demographic make-up of the city to the architecture and physical features of the cinema, as well as new ideas for the ever-more-crucial marketing strategies that grab the attention of filmgoers, who, although faced with more and more choice, perhaps have a lower initial exposure to each new film. Leading the seminar were Jon Barrenechea, Head of Marketing and Projects at Picturehouse Cinemas (UK), Marynia Gierat, who owns and runs Kino Pod Baranami (Poland) and Barak Epstein, owner of the Texas Theatre (USA).
A number of the cinemas forming part of the Europe-wide network were featured in case studies during the course of the seminar, including the Odeon in the Italian city of Bologna and 3001 in Hamburg, Germany. Their strategies, aimed at turning the cinema into a convivial and welcoming place for the public and an important asset for the community more generally, provided one focus for discussion. The talks revealed the potential of cinemas to be another setting for socialising and having fun, offering bar, café, library and bookshop facilities as well as a space for screening films: in short, to become social and cultural hubs for the whole community.
In pursuit of this goal, direct contact with audiences, and a firm commitment to meeting their needs, becomes vital. Through the internet and social media, audiences can now access content much more easily, although it has been demonstrated that, in certain cases, offline approaches can get better results, e.g. special promotions and tangible activities. Kino Svetozor in Prague, Folkets Bio in Växjö (Sweden), Kino im Kesselhaus in Krems an der Donau (Austria), Cinemazero in Pordenone (Italy), Filmcasino in Vienna and Kauno Kino Centras Remuva in Kaunas (Lithuania) all took part in the seminar, explaining their different approaches to this challenge.
The event also included a number of Open Slot sessions, where speakers presented various innovative projects and practices that could perhaps be put into action in the near future in order to give a boost to the industry. The seminar is the third in a series organised this year by Europa Cinemas, beginning with an event in Sofia in March, which was followed by a second instalment held in Bologna in June.
(Translated from Spanish)
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