Sofia, Day 1 – It’s all about creativity!

Wednesday 13th March 2019

Get together a group of more than 30 passionate and diverse film practitioners aged 17-67, from 18 different European countries; fashion an atmosphere of trust, open-mindedness and stimulation; trigger creativity and inspiration by customizing your think tank according to the need and skills of each individual: you get a Europa Cinemas Innovation Lab!


On this first day of lab in chilly but revigorating Sofia, at the incredibly cosy and luminous G8 Cinema, Mira Staleva who is the Deputy Director of Sofia International Film Festival and a long lasting contributor to this event, opened the festivities with wise words on creativity and positive energy, as exemplified by SIFF’s trailer this year. Fatima Djoumer, Europa Cinemas Head of International Relations then both expressed gratitude and delight at seeing the room filled with dynamic and curious network members and reminded them that the network offers other occasions to meet one another and exchange on issues : through the NEXT/CHANGE programme and the recent Innovation Day Labs. So a word to the wise…




Then, there are leaders to an innovation lab. This year, they are self-titled “junior member” Frédéric Cornet who is the careful and insightful director, programmer and distributor at Cinema Galeries in Brussels, new-by Marijana Bosnjak (director and programmer at Kino Urania) who is not so new at attending labs and kept emphasizing that there a no “problems” but “challenges” to be overcome in one’s cinema.


The “soul” of the lab to quote Fatima Djoumer, and third leader is Madeleine Probst who always manages to get some smiles from her beloved and valued audience, be it with her pizza chart of theaters audience age groups or with her provocative triptych emotion scheme COMFORT/DISCOMFORT/PANIC. The audience in question is then solicited to cover post it notes with ink to express their expectations. Well, the word is out, let it be known…everyone is here to share, get inspired, steal (ideas), listen and bring back new strategies! The group eventually becomes more individualized with the process of introduction which helped identifying the similarities and gaps between different situations, creating the first connivances and solidarity pulsions!

The floor went from the enthusiastic and galvanizing Ola Starmach (Kino Pod Baranami), to the wise Mario Fortin (Cinéma Beaubien, Canada) ready to prepare intelligently and elegantly his professional handover, to Mikk Rand’s (Kinokoda-Kinovork) perfectly matched yellow shoes, later on matched by the incredible presence of Piotr Czerkawski (New Horizons Cinema) and including the hopeful and inspiring presentations of 17 year-old Zahra Mashrafi and Alain Claude Bian Ebelle who both work at our hosting venue the G8.


In a nutshell, the group of ’19 is a nice mixture of experience and less experience but all the same creative and eager participants with a lot of charisma and a lot of questions ranging from building issues, to the optimization of small team and resources and also to the strategies to connect with young audiences, or how to really understand one’s audience through data and diversifying one’s programme to include concerts and other art forms.

This could all sound overwhelming and it is a bit, which justified of course the cocktail moment which followed..🍸 🍹

More on the lab tomorrow with some exciting discussions around the essential concern on sustainability in all its forms, reaching out to new audiences and social media an campaigns.

Reminder : the POST OF THE DAY contest is on Folks ! #ECsolab2019

Here are some notable examples :

Capture d’écran 2019-03-14 à 06.49.26

Capture d’écran 2019-03-14 à 06.48.34

Capture d’écran 2019-03-14 à 07.21.03