News / The Network


The Network - 03/07/2012


Work placement exchange project between independent exhibitors in the UK and Sweden


The Independent Cinema Office (ICO, UK) and Biografcentralen (Cinema Centre, Sweden) have formed a partnership which will identify 15 exhibitors from Swedish arthouse cinemas and their counterparts in the UK for work placements, job shadowing and training. The project will provide a unique opportunity for exhibitors to exchange best practice internationally in terms of cultural film programming, audience development, marketing, business models and strategic development.

Europa Cinemas spoke with Jens Lanestrand, CEO of Biografcentralen, about his organisation and the collaboration with the Independent Cinema Office.


1. What exactly is the purpose of Biografcentralen and its work?

The purpose of Biografcentralen is to explore and create new areas of interaction among the Swedish independent cinemas and between exhibitors and distributors. Our organisation came about as a result of a survey among independent cinemas in Sweden in 2010, where a need for a national resource for independent film was identified. Still today all of our work begins in dialogue with exhibitors and is based on our analysis of what the industry needs for it to be developed and strengthened. From the start our goal has been to search for new collaboration partners and to create innovative and evolving projects for the industry. We also focus on education and training. So far, 15 independent cinemas have joined our organisation.

 2. What role do European films and activities for young audiences play within your organisation? 

 Biografcentralen initiated a mini-network in summer 2011 consisting of three cinemas run by municipalities. They’ve been members of Europa Cinemas since January 2012. They screen many European films and stage a great number of activities towards young audiences, like school screenings and festivals. Biografcentralen will try to broaden the network activities according to the exhibitors’ needs. For example, the cinemas have asked for more titles of European children’s films. School screenings are very successful in Sweden, and last year we looked for solutions to the lack of archives and backlog titles for children’s and youth films that have a long life after their initial release. In August 2012 we’re going to launch a pilot project together with BUFF, the International Children’s and Young People’s Film Festival in Malmö. As part of the new initiative called “BUFF on tour” we are also distributing four films in order to meet the demand of our exhibitors for more European children’s films. The films that were screened at the BUFF Film Festival come from the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Norway and Finland and did not have a Swedish distributor beforehand. We try to find new ways to reach younger audiences with independent children’s films. And we’re also looking into new services of digital distribution that can help screening non-national films in a more cost-efficient way.


 3. How did the collaboration with the Independent Cinema Office come to life and what is it about?

ICO contacted Biografcentralen as early as October 2010, even before our network has been set up officially, to request a potential collaboration. As Tilly Walnes from ICO puts it in the press release: ”The Independent Cinema Office and Biografcentralen are well-suited as partners, both organisations working to develop and strengthen the independent film exhibition sector in their respective countries.” We think that there are many similarities, and that independent cinemas from both countries can learn a lot from the project. Interesting subjects are the digital rollout, reaching out to new audiences, developing concepts for the promotion of independent films and communication with cinemagoers. The project offers opportunities for the staff of independent cinemas and film festivals in Sweden to undertake short work placements (2-8 weeks) or job shadowing at similar organisations in the UK, to share good practice internationally and to discover new ideas.

The Leonardo Programme, part of the European Union’s Lifelong Learning Programme, awarded Biografcentralen €41,000 to fund the project. Preparations will begin in August 2012 and we already have eight requests from potential participants in Sweden. Tilly Walnes told me that there were already 6 host venues/cinemas in the UK that are interested. The project will initially run for 12 months, with placements commencing in spring 2013. The idea is that there will be a reciprocal exchange, so we’re also working on a project that will allow UK exhibitors to travel over to Sweden in future years following this pilot.

Bastian Sillner



Press release:


Tilly Walnes, Head of Exhibitor Development, ICO,

Independent Cinema Office works with cinemas and film festivals to bring a wider range of films to a wider range of audiences. Activities include training; film programming; distribution; advice and consultancy. Since 2003 the ICO has booked 26,000 films, trained over 1000 professionals from 635 organisations, distributed 235 films and achieved audience figures of over 6 million.


Jens Lanestrand, CEO, Biografcentralen

Biografcentralen was a result of a survey among independent cinemas in Sweden 2010 where a need for a national resource for independent film was stated. Activites include training, consultancy and distribution.