The 21st Europa Cinemas Network Conference opened with reports on the growth and strength of the network. In the last year, Europa Cinemas received 177 cinema applications, of which the majority of applicants met the guidelines to join.
Gabriele Bertolli, Policy Officer, Creative Europe MEDIA, European Commission, spoke about the importance of network cinemas in supporting shared values and democracy for European integration, giving the recent example of how cinemas helped in campaigning voters to participate in the European elections by showing a trailer, “For the first time in history, the number of voters has gone up.”
Both Simon and Bertolli were keen to highlight just how significant network cinemas are in representing and speaking directly to citizens in this way; “Cinemas are closest part of film industry to citizens,” Simon said and, “The proximity of the network to citizens is key,” Bertolli reiterated.
Harald Trettenbrein for the European Commission also acknowledged how significant network cinemas are in “changing the quality of life for so many.” While the network relies on financial support from the Commission, and where Simon had remarked that he hoped they were “up to the cultural task”, Trettenbrein was positive in his outlook, admitting that the network needs more money but also, “that we [European Commission] need the network, to reach out to cinemas… this meeting is not just important for you to network but also for us to understand what is important to you.”
While there are many development opportunities ahead there are also challenges such as the steady increase in films being released theatrically every week, something Claude-Eric Poiroux cited as an issue in France where cinemas have their work cut out for them in “holding the attention of viewers who are in a rush.”
Nuno Artur Silva from Portugal’s Ministry of Culture also highlighted the importance of cinemas being able to meet the demands on their resources, “It is essential to engage government and local authorities… to modernise and digitise,” he said. “We need to focus on the collective experience and where the wealth and value of cinema can be found, to bring people together in this day and age, with rituals… the cinema is a great source of wealth in this area.”
Photographs courtesy of Joana Linda.