Before opening the 19th edition of our Network Conference, Europa Cinemas President, Nico Simon, asked the room to stand for a minute of silence for Paris.
Returning to Prague for a second time, the Europa Cinemas Network Conference is growing exponentially. In 2003 there were 300 participants, but this year there are almost 500 delegates – all eager to share experiences and ideas on championing and developing audiences for independent and European cinema.
This is one of the most important aspects of the association’s work, and why we are all here in beautiful Prague for the weekend: for independent exhibitors to meet and build on their collective efforts to develop diverse European film culture. To this end, the conference is open to all cinemas, not only network members.
Lucia Recalde Langarica, Head of MEDIA Unit for the European Commission was keen to highlight that in an age of social media and cable television, “cinemas remains a very social experience.” The digital age, she says, extends across industries and is changing many businesses – not just cinema. Where cinema differs, however, is that its creative content has the ability to strengthen social diversity and to stimulate growth and create jobs.
But we’ve heard that cinemas need to respond to this changing landscape before, so what’s different this year? We have accepted digital technologies and along with the challenges posed, there are a huge number of opportunities, the most significant of which is the question of how to build new ways of engaging with audiences?
Přemysl Martinek, the first Czech speaker at the conference, welcomed everyone to Prague, and spoke about the problem of production and the industry not being in direct touch with cinemas. Wouldn’t the industry work more cohesively and successfully if production and development were assisting with the challenges of digital upgrades and audience development that cinemas face?
Photographs courtesy of Eva Kořínková