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Germany / Europe

Christian Bräuer • President, CICAE

“Each arthouse cinema is a little star, but together, they are like the Milky Way – you can’t ignore them”


- Cineuropa talked to the managing director of Yorck-Kino GmbH and the president of CICAE about the sixth European Arthouse Cinema Day, which took place earlier this month

Christian Bräuer • President, CICAE
(© AG Kino – Gilde deutscher Filmkunsttheater)

Having taken place on 14 November, the sixth European Arthouse Cinema Day took over cinemas in almost 40 countries. The president of CICAE [the International Confederation of Art Cinemas], Christian Bräuer, couldn’t be there in person, however, forced to quarantine after a COVID-19 scare. “I tested negative in the end, but safety comes first – I risked infecting other people,” he tells Cineuropa. “So many cinemas are so desperate right now, worried about this new COVID wave. That’s what this event is for – it’s good to know you are not alone.”

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Cineuropa: Would you say that this year’s celebration was a bit different? Especially given that the situation is still far from stable.
Christian Bräuer:
As we are seeing in so many countries, we are still in the midst of the pandemic. It certainly isn’t over. Then again, 650 cinemas were participating, even more than in 2019, plus one more country, bringing it up to 38. We are still waiting for some figures, but in Germany, for example, or in Hungary, we had more people attending. I guess that in itself sends out a strong message. It means that the exhibitors believe in their work and that the audience believes in theatres. After the lockdown, they are coming back.

Of course, some are still very cautious. But we see the need for talent and movies, many of which were produced and then couldn’t be screened. When it comes to the European Arthouse Cinema Day, we encourage the cinemas to have their own ideas about making it special. After all, in a city like Berlin, it wouldn’t make sense if all cinemas screened the same movies. We showed The Human Voice, Pedro Almodóvar’s short with Tilda Swinton, alongside a filmed Q&A, for example. We had a double feature of Bergman Island [+see also:
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and Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, bringing together classic and modern cinema. We really need days like these, also to spoil ourselves a little [laughs].

Do you think this kind of event also helps cinema owners to realise that they are not fighting this battle alone?
I guess it’s quite important. If you are not based in a big city, it gets more difficult – this collaboration is very important. Our film “ecosystem” is dominated by global players and streaming giants. Each arthouse cinema is a tiny little star in the media universe that’s getting bigger and bigger, but together, they are like the Milky Way – you can’t ignore them. This community is what makes us strong.

You appointed several ambassadors for the event, including some well-known European filmmakers. What is their role, exactly?
It’s always a bit different. We had Ildikó Enyedi, Mathieu Amalric, Valeria Golino and Jonás Trueba. Ildikó Enyedi is showing a new film, which was screened in at least five different countries; she also sent some special greetings to the audience. Valeria Golino took part in the screening in Naples, and with Mathieu Amalric, we showed his film in Berlin. It’s all about giving these films something special. We want to celebrate the diversity of European films, but also to celebrate arthouse cinemas as local cultural institutions. Film is an easy, accessible form of culture, but that’s why we tend to take it for granted sometimes. Which, as proven by the pandemic, we just can’t afford to do.

Are you planning to keep on growing? Or is there a limit to what this initiative can ultimately become?
The capacity of CICAE is limited, but yes, we would like to grow. I really believe in the global arthouse movement. We have this globalised world, as I mentioned before, all of these giants deciding what is being produced, but cinema is so much more than that. Cinema is diversity, and different cultures and languages. We want to celebrate it, and within the organisation, we talk about it all the time. Even if we are community-based, we need to venture out internationally. If we collaborate, we can do more – it really is that simple. It’s crucial to make sure we don’t lose any cinemas during this difficult period. That’s our mission.

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