Ramiro Ledo • President, PROMIO
"We want to take part in the debates that will decide the future of cinema"
- We talked to Ramiro Ledo, president of the Spanish association PROMIO, which stands up for cultural diversity, audiovisual literacy and a greater presence of European titles in movie theatres
Thirty-nine-year-old Ramiro Ledo, from Galicia, is the president of PROMIO, a brand-new network of Spanish independent film exhibitors that supports cultural diversity, audiovisual literacy and environmental sustainability, among other principles. We got in touch with Ledo to get the low-down on even more of the values and characteristics of the association, which was introduced at the 17th Seville European Film Festival.
Cineuropa: What experience have you racked up so far in the field of cinema?
Ramiro Ledo: I was the director and programmer of the Numax Cinema in Santiago de Compostela between 2014 and September 2020. And I’ve been managing director and programmer of the Duplex Cinema in Ferrol since June last year. I’ve also served as the director of Numax Distribución since 2015. Numax was built from scratch, as there was no cinema in the city at all. In that case, I thought about how to make exhibition viable, while combining mainstream and independent cinema: we learned a lot, and we achieved some good results, drawing in viewers with some mammoth efforts and limited support. That’s when we began to realise what was lacking in the Spanish exhibition system, on a structural level. Last summer, I reopened the Duplex Cinema, a small one with two screens, the only one in the city, which had closed down a short while earlier. After refurbishing it, we opened in October, which involved another big struggle, but we boasted a very varied programme, sticking to original-language versions of films. We managed to double the attendance levels in the first few months after reopening, until we had to close again because of COVID-19.
Where did the idea for this initiative of an association of independent exhibitors come from, and from whom?
It came from our day-to-day work, from coming together informally all the time and running into each other at forums – mainly international ones because in Spain, given that independent exhibition is not very far advanced, there are very few places where you will run into one another. It sprang up two years ago as a working group made up of Cineciutat (Palma, Majorca), Cinemes Girona, Zumzeig (Barcelona), Cinema Truffaut (Girona) and Numax, in order to analyse the legal aspects of independent exhibition in Spain and seek a common denominator that could unite independent cinema operators. We wanted to fight for our interests and help improve conditions for us. We figured out that there are around 60 cinemas in Spain that are part of the Europa Cinemas network: we have diversity criteria for exhibition in defence of European and national films, related to audience share, which has to be above 50%. We are united by our active programming efforts, our work in seeking out new audiences, with schools and educational institutions, the creation of our own communication materials and our standing up for original-language versions. This work requires a great deal of focus and dedication: we are always striving against all odds to become local cultural hotspots. Then, we figured that with this same criterion – including Asian and Latin American cinema – we needed a tool to identify ourselves and to establish a channel for dialogue with the authorities and with ourselves.
And why the name PROMIO?
Alexandre Promio was a cameraman in the Lumière brothers’ company and was a trainer for projectionists and camera operators. He filmed in Spain, in 1896: it seemed a nice idea to hark back to that time, when the first screenings consisted of views of other parts of the world and of the very places where the projections were taking place. Thus it’s a reflection of this diversity that we wish to represent.
What are the association’s main objectives?
They are very realistic: the main one is to stand up for the aforementioned diversity in film exhibition, as well as encourage screenings in the original language, promote literacy programmes in schools and, above all, be able to work in conjunction with the rest of the players in the whole value chain of the film industry, because the movie theatres are the place where the audience makes contact with the film in the first place.
So it’s still necessary to protect local and European cinema...
It’s vital to protect the diversity criteria: they are fundamental objectives for cultural development in any country, and curiously enough, Spain is the only country in our milieu where there is no trade union association revolving around those criteria. That’s why we need to standardise, so we don’t end up excluded from the debates in which the future of cinema will be decided.
What support are you receiving from Europe?
Moral support is what we are requesting at the moment because we are an association that was created recently, but we are very grateful that for our public launch ceremony, we were encouraged by equivalent associations in the surrounding countries, in Germany as well as in France and Italy. We also really appreciate the support of Lucía Recalde, from Creative Europe - MEDIA, and that of Beatriz Navas, from the ICAA. That spurs us on to knuckle down to work as soon as possible.
(Translated from Spanish)
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