Innovation Labs


Bologna Innovation Lab 2015


Review of the 2015 seminar – ‘Creating the demand for a diverse cinema’



For the eleventh year running, Europa Cinemas held its Audience Development & Innovation Lab in Bologna, as part of Cineteca di Bologna’s Il Cinema Ritrovato festival. The seminar brought together 36 participants from 20 different countries to allow exhibitors to share their experiences and offer innovative solutions to the challenges faced by cinemas.

The theme of this eleventh seminar was ‘Creating the demand for a diverse cinema’. Many avenues were explored in this way, including promoting the cinema as a venue, new marketing strategies, up-coming generations, community relations and partnerships.

The seminar was opened by Claude-Eric Poiroux, General Director of Europa Cinemas, and Gian Luca Farinelli, Director of Cineteca di Bologna. Gian Luca Farinelli was keen to remind participants that events such as the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival, which attracts almost 100,000 film lovers each year, prove that cinema continues to be an art form of the future.

Led by Madeleine Probst (Watershed, Bristol, UK and Vice-President of Europa Cinemas), Mathias Holtz (Folkets Hus och Parker, Sweden) and Petra Slatinšek (Kinodvor, Ljubljana, Slovenia), the seminar began with a hands-on workshop in which participants were invited to introduce themselves and present both the strengths and weaknesses of their venues. Most frequent among the areas for improvement mentioned by participants was the challenge of cultivating an interest in cinema among young people, and promoting their venues better. This exchange also made it clear that one of the main aims of participants is to turn their film theatre into an open forum for the community.

The second day kicked off with a visit to the Modernissimo, a project led by the Cineteca to reopen a historic cinema in the heart of Bologna. As presented by Gian Luca Farinelli, the Modernissimo project will involve the work of a designer rather than an architect, whose task will be to bring the space back to life with genuine craftsmanship. The work is especially important for the necessary attention to detail and emphasis on the organisation of the space in this underground cinema (the entrance in particular). According to the Cineteca’s director, the venue should open before the end of 2016.

This session on new spaces and new audiences continued with three speeches which complemented each other. Professor Ian Christie (Birkbeck College, University of London, UK) gave a presentation on the "7 Ages of Cinema", and shifts in cinema spaces and audiences' expectations, which provided a historical perspective on the cinema as a space. This was followed by a presentation by Jason Wood, showcasing the HOME project in Manchester, in which the speaker particularly emphasised the fact that audience members at his cinema should feel like they are in their own homes! Another seminar participant, Jan de Vries, (Kino Rotterdam, the Netherlands), who is currently working on a project to open his own cinema in a historic building in central Rotterdam, told us about his comprehensive audience development strategy, “The first thing we did was to hire a communications specialist,” said Jan de Vries.

The next session was devoted to ‘storytelling’ – how do you tell the story of your cinema? After the workshop led by social media expert Patrick Möller, participants were asked to consider in groups a real-world case directly connected to the morning’s visit: what communication and audience involvement strategies are relevant to the future Modernissimo? Several groups came up with interesting answers, including making videos (“Three words to describe the Modernissimo”) and proposing a teaser campaign based on the letter ‘M’.

The day continued with a session devoted to building a community and maintaining its loyalty, with presentations from Mathias Holtz, Petra Slatinšek and Elisa Giovannelli (Cineteca di Bologna). The success stories of the Roy Cinema in Gothenburg and the Kinodvor in Ljubljana, as well as the youth outreach work led by Cineteca di Bologna and its Schermi e Lavagne programme, show on the one hand that all age groups deserve to be an object of interest for the cinema and to be offered a suitable programme, on the other hand, those examples illustrate the fact that it is necessary to build up a personal relationship with the audience. “We try to establish a personal rapport with our audiences, and we do not hide ourselves away,” said Petra Slatinšek.

The practical part of this session was again introduced by Patrick Möller, by means of a presentation on partnership-driven strategies through social networks. The exercise for the participants consisted in coming up with a concept for the opening of the Modernissimo which attracts new audiences through partnerships.


The third day opened with the eagerly-awaited presentation by Valerio Carocci and Federico Croce, the two young communication students and initiators of the Cinema America Occupato initiative. This guerrilla cinema project, which has gained momentum in recent months, is appealing in its audacity and for the success it has enjoyed. With the simple but ambitious aim of bringing this cinema back to life – ‘Facciamo rivivere il cinema’, as the two young Italians put it –  the two speakers emphasised the fact that even beyond the level of special events, these are the kind of places that attract audiences. Thanks in particular to their exceptional use of social networks (19,000 followers on Facebook), their screenings have attracted up to 3,500 viewers.

Still within the realms of guerrilla marketing, the approach of the Kino Pod Baranami in Cracow (presented by Ola Starmach) provided a number of simple and practical recommendations which were well received by exhibitors. The ideas developed by this cinema included several that were notable concerning the innovative use of spaces, imaginative promotion of cinema via the design and production of bags, use of the cinema terrace for screenings or a film poster fair.

Inspired by these examples, the participants tackled the task of planning a guerrilla marketing event to promote one of the films in the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival. The debriefing session of the workshop was led by the two speakers from Cinema America Occupato.

After all this talk of spaces and ideas about how to promote them, the time had come to talk about films. How can we reach new audiences who are not cinema enthusiasts and encourage them in just a few words to go to a screening of a film classic? Madeleine Probst presented a project initiated by Watershed called ‘Conversations about Cinema’. The group then embarked upon their own written work, inspired by a research work in the field of books (Rachel van Riel, Opening The Book), coming up with taglines for the film The Third Man, a screening of which had taken place the evening before as part of the festival. Their ideas were inspired; ‘An intense game of cat and mouse in post-war Vienna. And who is the thrilling beauty who steals the hearts of both the good guy and the bad guy?’ (Charlie Bligh, BFI, London).

The fourth day opened with several presentations addressing the question of how to engage the next generation in the diversity of cinema. With participatory projects (MovieZone and Exposed presented by Florine Wiebenga from the EYE Film Institute, the Netherlands), in-depth work with schools and teachers (Kinobalon programme, presented by Petra Slatinšek of the Kinodvor, Slovenia), or practical examples from the North American network from ArtHouse Convergence with Russ Collins and Barbara Twist, this morning session was full of examples and different proposals for turning diversity into a real asset. “Cinema is very intuitive. It can – and must – be taught,” said Russ Collins at the end of his presentation.

How can teachers and schools be brought into this? The participants were asked to suggest simple and practical ways to include those audiences in their strategy. The solutions discussed included the idea of encouraging parents to become one of the driving forces in the relationship between pupils and schools.

The morning concluded with a discussion, chaired by Gian Luca Farinelli, centred on three examples of screening locations for heritage and archive films: firstly the Cinéma Les Fauvettes, presented by Jérôme Seydoux, whose project for a five-screen cinema dedicated to showing restored films should be opening its doors in the heart of Paris by the end of the year. Jérôme Seydoux emphasised the importance of having an online presence, and of innovative venues to secure the future of cinema. Echoing the issues discussed over the previous days, he also reminded listeners that not only the programming, but also the venue itself must appeal to audiences! The second case in point was presented by the Fondation Jérôme Seydoux-Pathé with Sophie Seydoux. Finally, Nikolaus Wostry presented a project by the Filmarchiv Austria to open a historic cinema, the Metro Kino Kulturhaus, in the heart of Vienna.

The afternoon session focussed on regaining audiences who have disengaged with cinema. Two case studies were presented: RIFE Magazine, an online platform by young people for young people covering all issues, but especially cultural interests, and Glasgow Youth Film Festival, the only film festival in Europe entirely curated and programmed by young people. Exhibitors learned that young audiences, who are not interested in the principle of diversity in cinema, are not lost audiences, provided they are addressed and involved in the right way.

Finally, Sarah Calderón (The Film Agency) offered participants ten practical tips for an effective online promotion campaign.

Note that this year, participants had several opportunities to share and gather impressions from everyone on an innovative idea they have implemented or considered implementing in their cinema. This led to some interesting new insights, especially in terms of teasers and trailers made by exhibitors themselves to promote their cinema using video content.


The fifth and last day offered the opportunity for a round-table discussion on which ideas participants were likely to take back with them to their venues. What would be their first projects on returning from the seminar? Some popular ideas began to emerge, especially twinning partnerships between cinemas, with simultaneous screenings, and exchange programmes for exhibitors to visit venues with projects that interest them. “I had not anticipated that just meeting other people in the business, from Europe and beyond, and sharing ideas could be so valuable!” concluded seminar participant Paul Gallagher (Glasgow Film Theatre, Scotland).

Buzzing with ideas and creativity, this 11th edition of the seminar gave participants an opportunity to look at their work in a new light, to review their strategies for communication and audience involvement, to be inspired by other people’s ideas and, above all, to step out of their comfort zone and have the courage to implement ambitious projects focussing on the uniqueness of their particular venue, as well as the diversity of cinema.

Claudia Droc, Jérôme Tyl (July 2015)


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Seminars Archive

  • Sofia Lab 2017

    Building Relationships & Designing Experiences 

  • Sevilla Lab 2016

    How can cinemas remain vital spaces for their local communities? 

  • Bologna Lab 2016

     The Cinema Experience In The Age Of Digital Distractions? 

  • Sofia Innovation Lab 2016

    Creating active and diverse relationships with our communities

  • Sofia Innovation Lab 2015

    Building Audiences from the Ground up

  • Sevilla Innovation Lab 2014

    Standing Out In The Digital Age - Place-Making, Brand-Building & Shareability

  • Bologna Seminar 2014


    New Challenges & Approaches With New Audiences

  • Sofia Innovation Lab 2014

    Starting from scratch - New approaches with new audiences in the digital era

  • Bologna Seminar 2013

    “Engaging Communities in the digital era”: Saturday, 29th June – Wednesday, 3rd July, 2013

  • Bologna Seminar 2012

    Cinemas facing the economic and digital transition.  New realities and opportunities.

  • Bologna Session 2011

    Every year, since 2005, a Young Audience Seminar has been organized by Europa Cinemas during the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival located at the Cineteca di Bologna.
    This year, it will take place from Saturday the 25th of June until Wednesday the 29th of June 2011. Conducted by the film historian Ian Christie (Vice-President of Europa Cinemas and professor in London), and run by Madeleine Probst (Watershed Media Centre, Bristol) and Simon Ward (Independent Cinema Office, London), the theme will be:
    "Competing for attention & success Educating through creativity"

  • Bologna Session 2010

    Every year, since 2005, a Young Audience Seminar has been organized by Europa Cinemas during the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival located at the Cineteca di Bologna.
    This year, it will take place from Saturday the 25th of June until Wednesday the 29th of June 2011. Conducted by the film historian Ian Christie (Vice-President of Europa Cinemas and professor in London), and run by Madeleine Probst (Watershed Media Centre, Bristol) and Simon Ward (Independent Cinema Office, London), the theme will be:
    "Competing for attention & success Educating through creativity"

  • Bologna Session 2009

    From 27 June to 1 July, Europa Cinemas organised its fifth annual seminar devoted to Young Audiences under the theme of the CHALLENGE OF GENERATIONS. The discussions took place as part of the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival organised by the Cineteca di Bologna.

  • Bologna Session 2008

    Our theme this year is twofold: to review how specialist cinemas can actively contribute to creating a sense of cinema’s history through their programme, especially for youth audiences; and to learn how digital technologies can help them do so – rather than being seen as a threat to the ‘culture of celluloid’.

  • Bologna Session 2007

    As part of the Il Cinema Ritrovato festival, for the third year Europa Cinemas organised a seminar with the Cineteca di Bologna focusing on young audiences and classic films. 

  • Bologna Session 2006

    How to modernize cinema history? 

  • Bologna Session 2005

    How to promote heritage films rowards young audiences? 


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