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The Network - 16/11/2007


Europa Cinemas Awards 2007 : Best Young Audience Activities


Three cinemas in one, a stone's throw from the Baltic Sea. On a central square in Gdañsk, Poland's 6th largest city and cradle of Solidarnosc, the Neptun, Helikon and Kameralne cinemas constitute the unique Gdañskie Centrum Filmowe (Gdañsk Film Centre), dedicated to showing films d'auteur. Although located in the same building, they nevertheless have a different history.
The Neptun is the largest theatre in the country, with 1,100 seats. That makes it the privileged location for major film previews, as recently for David Lynch's Inland Empire. It is also one of the oldest cinemas still running. The Helikon and Kameralne have both existed for around twenty years. More modest (72 and 136 seats), they nevertheless complement the Neptun well. Despite their excellent location, these theatres must today deal with competition from three multiplexes. A difficult situation at times, which Andrzej Puszkiewicz, who's responsible for Young Audience, answers with a major policy of activities.
Each age group benefits from specific programming. Once a month, the three cinemas organise programmes for the very young. For Puszkiewicz, this does not mean simply showing them a film, but also allowing them to discover the magic of cinema by explaining how it works.
For their part, high school students benefit from special screenings on Saturdays. "We encourage them to bring along their parents or friends," Puszkiewicz points out. "We give special privilege to European films, and from time to time American or Asian films." The programming is organised around precise topics worked out beforehand with the teachers. "This work also gives pupils and teachers a basis for discussion and exchange once they're back in the classroom." The cinemas welcome between 30'000 and 40'000 schoolchildren per year.
Finally and above all, the Neptun, Helikon and Kameralne organise each year the finale of the National Film Knowledge competition destined for students. This event gathers 5,000 competitors, who must answer questions on the cinema, and offers numerous screenings and meetings with professionals. The winners come away with admission to a film school. A nice way to participate in the renewal of Polish film talent. Puszkiewicz hopes to extend the competition to other European countries.
(November 2007)