Bologna, Day 1: The Club of the 35 #ECBoLab2018


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Saturday 23rd June 2018

Europa Cinemas launched its annual Bolognese Lab yesterday under a clear blue sky and within the cozy and dense atmosphere of the 32rd Il Cinema Ritrovato.

Over the next 4 days and through 8 thematic sessions, a think tank composed of 35 exhibitors and other cinema professionals from all over Europe (and further away) will discuss, reflect, share on the challenges of creating and maintaining a community for cinema theaters nowadays. How can we ensure cinema spaces remain places that people feel connected with, whatever their age, preferences, backgrounds or access needs? And what can we do better to capitalise on our communities’ assets, inspiration, and potential in a context of ever increasing abundance of content and platforms and shrinking resources? are the two framing questions this year. The guests will provide illustrations of concrete projects already existing and use hindsight to draw tips and helpful approaches.

On this exciting first day, the participants were welcomed to the Lab by Claude-Eric Poiroux, the General director Europa Cinemas who highlighted the idea that the 35 people gathered there were bearers of a unique point of view but also shared common values in believing the cinema theater is the privileged and only way to experience films and the young generations need to be made aware of this. A cinema has an eminently social agenda and is therefore crucial for our collective future. Then, CE Poiroux paid tribute to the work of Gian Luca Farinelli together with his team quoting Godard to set things straight “There is no such thing as old films”.

© Lisa Kermabon
On the very right, Claude-Eric Poiroux listens to Gian Luca Farinelli with the mic

Gian Luca Farinelli is the General Director of the Cineteca di Bologna and of Cinema Ritrovato, a modern heritage film festival turned toward the future. He wears dazzling blue glasses and is amazingly clear-sighted when he talks about cinema theater being fundamentally “places for humans”. For him, Europa Cinemas transforms the potential solitude of exhibitors into a common search for competences and skills. “We keep learning” is his motto. We wish him the best of luck for his thrilling project of the Cinema Modernissimo currently under renovation!

Then the contents and aims of the lab (sharing, finding inspiration and good practices, making professional and human connections) were introduced further and interactively brought up by the three “leaders”: the vibrant and inspiring Madeleine Probst (Programme Producer, Watershed, UK and Vice-President of Europa Cinemas), the ever creative and generous Hrvoje Laurenta (Manager, Kino Europa, Croatia) the smart and efficient Daniel Sibbers (Marketing Director, Yorck Kinogruppe, Germany) and their special Guest the sparkling Barbara Twist imported straight from the US. The 35 participants were immediately put to contribution through pairing to pinpoint the values and expectations around this Lab. The “pretty cool bunch”, as Madeleine labelled them, jumped into the exercise with good will and enthusiasm aware that a “Panic zone” had been envisioned by their compassionate leaders.

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From left to right, Hrvoje Laurenta – Madeleine Probst – Daniel Sibbers are “The Fabulous 3” lab leaders

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We came to learn that nobody was here only on vacation but that meeting people with new ideas, being drawn to new perspectives, showing open mindedness and humor while being good listeners and giving space to talk were on the 35’s minds. Not too surprising since the “pretty cool bunch” brings together a bass player, a theater actor, a former kindergarten teacher, someone working in a cinema which used to be…a garage, another person looking for ideas to organize dating movie strategies etc.

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The adjectives used by the 35 participants to define themselves and the lab
The results of the brainstorming

On the evening and to finish that first day “en beauté”, the Europa Cinemas Lab community had the opportunity to watch in open air one of the many films showcased by the Cineteca: Enamorada, a kind of variation on the shakespearian The Taming of the Shrew directed by the Mexican Emilio Fernández (Mexico/ 1946, 99’), on the stunning Piazza Maggiore. The introduction of this vibrant and cheeky love story was by Martin Scorsese, a charismatic and generous “godfather”, who made the restoration of the copy possible along with George Harrison’s wife. The screening was preceded by a delightful Mariachi concert.

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Busy bees of the EC community in the front row, still working or checking the results of the World Cup ? © Charlotte Wensierszki
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© Charlotte Wensierszki
Enamorada, Emilio Fernandez © La Jornada Zacatecas

 What’s next ?

Day 2

Session 1 – From Spaces to Places

Session 2 – Breaking Down Barries

Session 3 – Include us.

The post of the day daily contest !

Until then, “hi” from the EC team !

© Charlotte Wensierszki