Bologna, Day 1 – finally back to a live edition

Saturday 25 June – After 2 years without a live in person edition, the Bologna Lab is back in 2022. This year’s lab will be led by Metka Daris (Director of Kinodvor, Ljubljana, Slovenia) and Matthias Damm (Director of Casablanca, Nuremberg, Germany).

During the first session on Saturday, Claude‐Eric Poiroux, General Director of Europa Cinemas, welcomed a total of 41 exhibitors and sales agents from 20 countries in the Cineteca di Bologna. New this year will be the streaming of the sessions through YouTube. He also remarked that there are multiple ways today to see Bernardo Bertolucci’s classic from 1970 Il Conformista, 5 VOD platforms and of course, tonight on the Piazza Maggiore in the centre of Bologna. It’s a challenge to find visitors for the big screen and yet, the Piazza is crowded every night. There are 8 million users of VOD platforms in France, 500.000 cinema visitors in Paris. He believes we have to be optimistic as cinemas are opening again, and we’re here together yet again, to share ideas and knowledge. He’s convinced the cinemas will win again, as they always did when challenges arose.

Davide Pietrantoni, Deputy Director of Cineteca di Bologna, welcomes all the exhibitors to the 36th edition of Il Cinema Ritrovato. A festival that wants to rediscover like an explorer. He believes that the most important thing now is that we, as exhibitors, have to find back our audiences again. A part of the public has left and hasn’t returned after the pandemic. It’s a unique situation and we have to regenerate our way of thinking about it. This lab will be important to share everything, our knowledge, but also our fears, to become better at what we do, put our passion in it and find back our community.

After these words, Metka Daris and Matthias Damm, welcome all exhibitors and sales agents to ‘5 days of cinema therapy’. For the next few days, this will be a safe space to share our experiences to all of us who want cinema to survive and watch cinema on the big screen, where it belongs.

After the introduction round to get to know each other, everyone was asked to state their biggest challenge for the future. Below you’ll find a few challenges mentioned that we will probably hear a lot about in the coming days:

  • How to bring back audiences to pre-pandemic times, without losing our good programming?
  • Where are the university students who were in the cinemas before the pandemic and how to get them back?
  • We need good projects and create events, so audiences can meet up again.
  • The arthouse cinemas are suffering from competition of the multiplex cinemas. It feels like the audience is totally different now, how can we reconnect with them?
  • The audience from before is no longer coming, we want to attract young people between the age of 18 – 27 for other films than the multiplex ones.
  • We’ve seen a rollercoaster in attendance, we would love to see audiences returning to the cinema again.
  • The pandemic years have pushed us to be creative,  we have lots of new partners but we would like to learn who to keep quality and grow in quantity.
  • The summertime has proved to be a difficult period,  because of different activities in the city. What can we do to keep people in the cinemas?
  • We organize different type of events; filmscreenings, club nights, comedy nights and so on. But what can we do to visitors from different type of events also go to the other events in our venue?
  • The problem of streaming, how to be innovative to overcome this problem?
  • Sales agents have mentioned a desire for partnerships, or a better connection, between them and distributors. Would it be possible to realize short term licenses? And also their wish to work directly with exhibitors.

Metka Daris closed the session with a good point and asked everyone if anyone asked why the audiences that did return to the cinema, did so. Of course it’s not possible to reach the ones that did not return, but states that it might be interesting to establish communication with your audience.