Sofia, Day 3 – rethinking the cinema experience

Friday 24th March 2023

What better way to start the day than visiting a cinema? Europa Cinemas’ Alexandre and Lisa took the group of exhibitors to check out the Sofia Cinema House in the morning. Most of the attendees had already been there the night before to have drinks, not knowing there was a great cinema upstairs. Hristo Hristozov told the story of how he started working here many years ago after spending so much time at this cinema as a visitor and went on to tell about the events they host, from screenings for young parents with baby’s to hosting screenings for refugees. Everyone should feel welcome in the cinema.

The fourth session was all about rethinking the cinema experience. Eva Demeter from TISZApART gave a presentation on the new mobile app they launched with the help of Europa Cinemas Next/Change programme. An app to buy tickets with, but they’re also developing new ways to interact with their visitors, for instance; they can decide on the programming and if they get more people to join, the ticket price goes down.

Balázs Nagy from Corvin, Hungary, told about the augmented reality app they created for the Imperceptibles festival. With this app and game the audience could find the secret screenings spread all over the city of Budapest and Paris.

Valerio Carocci from Cinema Triosi told the exhibitors about their shift from an illegal to a free, open and legit cinema. Their story started 12 years ago and the cinema they’re running now with a group of 9 people, just recently opened a year ago. They have received support from sponsors and institutions, which you might not expect, seeing their history. The screenings they used to host in the open air were all free, but they now have to charge a ticket price for the screenings. It’s been a long road, but they have won different legal, economic, cultural and political battles and the future looks bright, they’re even planning on opening another cinema: an abandoned cinema they’ve saved from turning into an apartment complex. The plan is to take over a lot more abandoned cinemas in Trastevere and become as powerful as the multiplex.

Session five is also opened by Valerio Carocci, this time he presents different types of events they host in their brand new cinema. The reasoning behind these events? To get people reacquainted and back to the cinema place. Another thing is that the cinema buiding is open 24/7 and 365 days per year, this makes the cinema a safe and a welcoming place to everyone. Their audience is quite young, 60% of the visitors is under 30 years of age.  Programming wise the focus is premiere titles during the week and classics in the weekend. Aside from cinema, they organize also other types of screenings, from screening the recent elections live to playing games on the screen.

Martyna Pałczyńska from Gdynia in Poland tells about their Fairy Tale mornings to get the young kids in the cinema. A great way to get children used to the cinema as a space. During these events the kids are welcome everywhere in the building, to run around, discover and explore, because it’s important they feel comfortable in the cinema.

Christos Ringas from Athinea, Greece has a great project they implement during the months the space is closed down: cinema with pets! When they were asked if visitors could come with their dogs, they didn’t hesitate. It’s a nice way to attract dog lovers who are not necessarily film lovers. Likeminded people get together, which creates lots of promo through word of mouth. This way they can give back to the community that supports them.

Session six was focused on the Collaborate to Innovate projects supported by Europa Cinemas. Alicia Nieto talked about the challenges of coordinating their Viridiana project in Spain. Created to give more visibility to European cinema with 32 other likeminded cinemas. It’s a joint paid preview screening of 11 films in total, from November 2021 till June 22, with one screening per month. They also launched a special website to promote these screenings.

Justė Vyšniauskaitė from Kaunas cinema centre Romuva tells about their inspiring project Rising Cinema.  A new model of film education for people between 15 and 20 years. A special Europan film programme, complete with lectures on cinema history, meetings with professionals and workshops, ranging from writing reviews to creating podcasts.

Mirona Radu tells about their project Shifting Pictures, which they launched together with 3 other cinemas based in Belgrade, Amsterdam and Prague. The idea was to build partnerships with cinemas and third parties. She says it’s important to collaborate, because you can share ideas and expertise. By doing so you can use the same recourses like funding, technology and talent. Of course there is also a few challenges, such as the large amount of paperwork, the changing timelines, how to go about shared promotion and certain financial aspects.

Debrief of the day..