Bologna, Day 3 – different forms of collaborations

Day three of the innovation lab starts with examples of programming through collaborations. The session starts with Wouter Greven from Lumière Cinema in The Netherlands. They’ve managed to form partnerships with students in their city. His tips were to contact student associations, because these are the motivated students and would want to co-curate. Nowadays they don’t have to reach out, but the students know to find the cinema for partnerships.

Dina Pokrajac from Dokukino in Croatia tells about the Democracy for Beginners programme they’ve launched. The youth doesn’t know a lot about politics and human rights issues, this was project called into life to encourage critical thinking. Another plus is that the young kids can find their way to the cinema and also learn about documentary as an artform.

At the Hagabion in Sweden, Gisela Ritzén’s project is based on helping independent filmmakers without distribution to find their audience and get their films in the cinema. When in the beginning everyone was welcome, they’re now really curating their programme to reach a bigger audience. Also, filmmakers have to put in the work as well. They have to promote their films and attend the screenings.

The next session was lead by sales agents from different countries. Natalia Dabrowka from New Europe Film Sales tells about the guide that’s being put together to help exhibitors and sales agents work together in a better way.  This is initiated by Europa International and this document will be published in  July of 2022.

Tanguy Milin from Reservoir Docs in France talked about a ‘tricky topic’; how blockchain can be used by exhibitors to screen the films they want, without interference of other parties such as distributors. This way exhibitors and the rightful owners such as sales agents can find eachtother directly. If it will happen in the near future, we don’t know of course. A blindspot is that using a blockchain it’s a highly consuming in energy and that’s somethingt to think about.

Jane Yao from Fortissimo Films in Amsterdam has some interesting stories about the Chinese film market and the way PR and marketing tools are used in Mainland China to distribute films. The distributors create the main content, such as clips that are being used in the run-up to the release. What’s also being used online the reactions of the audiences during the premiere screenings. Another thing is that different graphic designers are being shown one minute clips of a certain film, so they can create posters for these films.

Russ Collins from Michigan Theaters states that the cinemas in the US have to rely on philantropists and that there isn’t much government funding like in Europe. However, there was some funding during the pandemic and distributors proved to be more flexible with their films during these times. What he sees now is that a lot of people are not (yet) returing to the cinemas. 50% of the non-returning cinemagoers state that they haven’t found a program they were interested in.

During the first workshop of the day exhibitors and sales agents were put together and asked to present different type of collaborations between the two. A few interesting takeaways:

  • Sales agents should be stricter with distributors and ask of them not to wait to long to release a film after it’s initial premiere during a festival
  • Create a database for sales agents, so that exhibitors can find them. It is later mentioned that such a thing exists in Cinando. However, a lot of cinemas don’t have access to this website.
  • Sales agents would like it if cinemas gather and book a film for several screenings. This means less paperwork.
  • Exhibitors should participate in financing the films.
  • Networking; sales agents should be more visible for exhibitors.

In the next session Florian Lemaitre from Europa Cinemas presents the Collaborate to Innovate project launced in 2021. Members of the network were asked to present ideas for building partnerships with other cinemas in order to bring back the audience.  The main question you should ask yourself as an exhibitor before applying is if your project is innovative enough.

Marlene Dinhof from Filmcasino in Austria is the first to present their project. With the live stream collaboration network they’ve set up a partnership with5 other cinemas in Austria. The idea is to offer more than just screenings. With this new live stream technology you can screen to other cinemas directly. Things like Q&A’s are less costly this way, because you can split the costs.

Steven Strik presented the project Hybrid Futures for European Cinemas. 15 independent Dutch cinemas have gathered for this project which is basically a platform with all sorts of different tools in one place. So the audience doesn’t have to leave the platform to use tools like livestream, chats, youtube or  even video on demand. Festivals such as IDFA and IFFR have already incorporated these tools in their websites.

Oskar Kobar from Tartu Elektriteater in Estonia is next and presents their succesful  project: innovative software for small-size cinemas. It’s a one software for everthing: excel, ticketing, calendar and a homepage on which you communicate your program. Because they’ve thought about it with different cinemas, it helps eliminate certain problems you wouldn’t think about if you didn it alone.

Jéremie Monmarché from Studio in France presents the project Passerelle which is already live and in use. An online tool to link social operators with distributors and exhibitors. Social operators get information on new arthouse films and where they are screened, so they can inform audiences that would normally not go to the cinema. This way new audiences can be reached.