The final day of the conference began with one of the most enjoyable sessions – Open Slot: Case Studies. An opportunity to hear inspiring stories from a few of the network’s many dynamic and innovative cinemas, these case studies give network members a chance to look at what works across borders when it comes to audience development.
Further developing the Tour des Cinémas project – where Agnès Salson and Mikael Arnal visited more than 100 independent cinemas across Europe to find inspiration for their own practice – Salson presented their new book, Cinema Makers. All about the people and places that “produce, share and experiment” to create environments and initiatives that connect with and inspire local communities, Cinema Makers is another way to share the passion behind twenty unique stories in the independent sector.
Jure Matčič from the Slovenian Art Cinema Association talked about the very thing everyone in the room was gathered to do: drawing from the strength of a network. Focusing on quality films and working with distributors and other partners, the network has achieved a lot over the decade, from facilitating digital transition to working with national education bodies to train teachers and establish a film programme in schools. “We deeply believe that cinema is not just entertainment but also culture,” Matčič said, stressing the importance of establishing a dialogue between individual cinemas, producers, communities and local decision makers. Matčič believes cinemas need to be an active participant in policy making. Their network has also been a major force in the development of open-air cinema, with almost every network cinema now working in this area. They are currently working on a major VOD project to extend the reach of their cultural programming as they near the 10th anniversary of their network in March 2020.
Carolina Góngora from Cine Paz in Madrid focused on marketing and visibility as a way to adapt and increase audience and secure ticket sales. Citing leadership, team work and innovation as the basis for their success, Góngora also talked about working with educational organisations and local businesses to better engage the community. Cine Paz also host special events in partnership to extend their reach, for example; working with voice dubbing actors to hold a conference on film dubbing and working with book shops to increase cultural engagement by promoting both film and literature.
Kinga Plicht from Gdynia Film Centre talked about the great and varied initiatives they developed for Young Audiences. Gdynia Film center is also the home of the Polish Film Festival and Gdynia Film School. They decided to cooperate with the film school and use all the equipment in order to develop innovative initiatives among which In the middle of Fairy Tale (film morning for children), Masters of Cinema (educational film cycle for teenagers), History Lessons of Cinema (for primary and secondary students) and varied workshops for young film critics (for teenagers all over Poland).
She focused then on their last project : CINEMA winter / summer HOLIDAY, a week-long half-camp for children between 9 and 12 years of age. The children spend all the day at the cinema from 9am to 4pm. In the morning they watch a film and the rest of the day is filled with creative classes : film, photography, acting, dubbing and animation workshops.
Adam Pugh from the UK’s Tyneside Cinema presented their project working to break down barriers between artists’ moving work and audiences by bringing what’s traditionally found on the white walls of a gallery context into the cinema. Pugh’s key challenge was in including the intervention in the cinema’s regular film programme and not letting it become a separate or isolated viewing experience. Through screenings, live events and open call commissions, as well as artists’ residencies and development opportunities, Tyneside have created a programme of short films that could screen with features at their own venue but also at other UK venues (at zero cost to the exhibitors) and now in exchange with other European cinemas. The idea is to have a mini network of four to five partner cinemas, each commissioning films and sharing them across multi-arts spaces, cinemas, galleries and in schools to bring production and distribution together to exhibit contemporary art.
Closing the session was another network as Russ Collins from Art House Convergence talked about their mission to increase the quality and quantity of arthouse cinema exhibited in the US. “We share your anxiety, anger & frustration with the nature of the film market,” he said, citing “equity, diversity and inclusion” as the cornerstones of their work in helping cinemas show quality content.
Photographs courtesy of Joana Linda.