Seville, Day 1 : Welcome attendees !


Wednesday 14thNovember 2018

The first day of a Europa Cinemas Innovation Lab always is a special moment.



Curious and dynamic cinema exhibitors from all over Europe flock together and after hours of being in transit for some, they finally get to meet each other during a collective walk and the introduction session. This year, the hosting venue is the mighty Convent of Santa María de los Reyes. In the Sala Caliano, the stage is set for what will be 3 intense days of brainstorming ideas, triggering inspiration and above all fun and creative exchanges.


The first words were those of Olimpia Pont Chafer who represented the Seville European Film Festival and insisted on the importance for the festival to host the Europa Cinemas’s innovation lab which is perfectly in line with its aim to share European Cinema in the best possible way. Then Serge Toubiana, former Managing Director of the French Cinematheque now president of the 1949’s association Unifrance who received à Carte Blanche at Seville Festival did the lab the honour of being there to express his support to Europa Cinemas’ work. As he explained, he shares the same emotion towards cinema theatres as the director of the association: Claude-Eric Poiroux. Serge Toubiana knows that the crucial question for cinema venues these days bears on the way to give back these places their power of seduction and attractivity. To answer this, we need to look within us and identify how cinema went looking for us when we were young. “Chilhood is not about series, Serge Toubiana contends. Childhood is about the cinematic experience!”



These words were a beautiful manner to pave the way for Claure-Eric Poiroux’s introduction on the assets of his network which is all about creating desire for films. Hence, Europea Cinemas director paid tribute to the diverse programming of the network members and their ability to accompany their screenings with activities and mediation. For him, the lab is an ideal time to realize that what one does is useful for another. Meeting up and taking a few days to be together and share makes us progress, move forward. Two examples Claude-Eric Poiroux shared illustrate well that theaters must really be considered as places for people to feel well in: Sala Equis cine bar in Madrid is trendy but not posh ! Exhibitors should keep principles that work like Cines Princesa which the Spanish King often visit, notably because no popcorn is allowed there!

Then Sevilla 2018 Innovation Lab was officially launched, and the participants got to get acquainted with three crucial resourceful persons: the lab leaders or the holy trinity as Maeve Cook put it. She is the Director of Access>CINEMA in Ireland and with tall Swedish exhibitor Olle Agebroand and bearded President of Cineciutat and Cinearte Javier Pachón, she will entice the lab participants to share their personal experience, leave their preconceptions behind and get aware that before all great success there is some failures.


To put a good example, Maeve, Olle and Javier introduced one another. They asked the attendees to do the same and after 15 noisy minutes, it was time to hear about the strengths and weaknesses of the different venues represented by the participants. We heard about loyal and solid teams and audiences, great spaces, collaboration with schools and universities, strong identities but also about complicated locations within cities, challenging spaces (too big or to small), about lack of finances and lack of visibility etc. Above all, we heard about the guilty pleasures of each other ! 70s exploitation films, romances, Mean Girls, Harry Potter, to only name a few and what it all came down to in the end was that the persons gather in this room, coming from various horizons, various backgrounds all shared common concerns, objectives and human qualities.


The opening session ended on charismatic Javier’s food for thoughts : “There is a fine line between inspiration and frustration. You are going to hear about other cinemas’ achievement. The ideas you will get, use them to transform things…”. People here at the lab must be here with a certain mindset, a spirit of trust and be aware that their comfort zone and their panic zone must be overcome. They should push away the behaviour of concern which make you not listen and aim for the ‘intermediate state” where you are alert and open to new things.


–       Be here without preconceptions but with trust

–       Share the good and the bad alike

–       Look for your intermediate state of alertness

Charlotte Wensierski