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The Network - 20/11/2009


Europa Cinemas Awards 2009 - Best Entrepreneur


Folkets Hus Och Parker

Folkest Hus och Parker (FHP) (Sweden)

Sweden's Folkets Hus och Parker (FHP), The National Federation of People's Parks and Community Centres, faced a number of challenges when it started Europe's first digital cinema circuit in August 2002, both in terms of new technology and regarding the distributors' will to deliver films digitally.

As project manager Rickard Gramfors points out, „one big challenge was to convince an inherently conservative film industry to embrace the new technology. In the big city cinemas, the main challenge has been to secure the European arthouse content that constitutes the bulk of our programming. We are competing in a market where we cannot always get the films that we want.“

At the same time, he argues, „the introduction of digital cinema has provided us with the possibility to give our audiences new experiences and extra value for their money. 

Indeed, he cites the live screenings of opera from the Metropolitan in New York as one of his personal highlights of working for FHP.

„We started out small with three operas in the spring of 2007 at 19 rural cinemas, not really believing there would be a big interest from the audience,“ he says. „We were wrong. Today, the Met operas are broadcast live in HD and surround sound at 80 digital cinemas in Sweden, and last season we had 43,000 people visiting the operas!“

Another personal highlight was FHP being the first cinema circuit screening digital 3D in Sweden, with the premiere of U23D in November 2008.

Gramfors declares that being named Best Entrepreneur is, „personally, a great honour and a wonderful recognition of the pioneer work FHP has been doing, regarding the diffusion of European films in Sweden, especially through the rollout of digital cinemas.“

„Also, it's a recognition of FHP actually having the guts to open new arthouse cinemas with a European profile in the three major Swedish cities,„ he adds. „We also see this as a recognition of our efforts to be represented in the Europa Cinemas network in as many aspects as we can. Not only with our cinemas in Sweden's major cities, but also with the small town arthouse cinemas.“
Pictures (from left):
Rickard Gramfors, Rio in Stockholm, Mathias Holtz and Mikael Sandberg