Romanian Ministry of Culture to reorganise state-owned cinema network
by Stefan Dobroiu
- The Ministry initiative may reintroduce and update dozens of cinemas all over Romania
After announcing a plan to reorganise the Romanian National Film Center and implement a new cinema law by October 2016 (read the news), newly appointed Minister of Culture Vlad Alexandrescu is tackling one of the most urgent issues for Romanian cinema: the dwindling state-owned cinema network. Administered by state company RomâniaFilm, an institution under the authority of the Ministry of Culture, the network controlled hundreds of cinemas in the 1990s. Only 16 are still active in 2016, which makes Romania, even with the recent influx of multiplexes, the European country with the lowest number of screens per inhabitant.
Managed by a seven-person board, RomâniaFilm will get new managers this spring. Alexandrescu announced that the new board would be given three months in order to come up with a coherent strategy to recondition and reintroduce at least some of the arthouse cinemas in a country where towns with as many as 80,000 inhabitants have no access to a big screen. The issue is directly linked to the enthusiastic content piracy rife in Romania, but also to the stark contrast between the international success of domestic films and their disappointing reception at home: Radu Muntean’s One Floor Below [+see also:
interview: Radu Muntean
film profile] and Florin Şerban’s Box [+see also:
film profile] totalled less than 6,000 admissions in 2015 (read the news).
Although official attempts to rejuvenate RomâniaFilm have been made in the past, and in March 2014 the Romanian Film Promotion Association launched “Save the Big Screen”, a campaign meant to put pressure on authorities to repair and reopen cinemas in ruin (read the news), little has actually happened. The Ministry of Culture initiative, a call to arms for local film professionals willing to save a valuable part of Romania’s cultural heritage, was deemed “a first actual step towards normalcy” by Andrei Rus, the Ministry representative on the National Film Center board. Rus also said that, until the new management of RomâniaFilm comes up with a plan, the Ministry will continue negotiations with local authorities, which are the current decision makers regarding the fate of more than 100 cinemas all over the country.