News / The Network


The Network - 14/11/2008


Europa Cinemas Awards 2008 - Best Programming


Arthouse Kinos


"Programming is a very, very personal thing"


Looking back on 30 years in the business, Zürich-based exhibitor This Brunner says things were much easier when he started out with the first arthouse cinema Studio Commercio with just 46 seats.

"There were tons of great movies which the local cinema owners snobbed," Brunner recalls, "starting with the new wave of young Swiss directors (Daniel Schmid, Tanner, Soutter, Murer, Seiler, etc.), and Claude Miller's wonderful The Best Way to Walk to films like Mike Nichols' Carnal Knowledge or John Huston's A Walk With Love.

"I was in Shangri-La and success was occurring exactly where we positioned ourselves, " he says. "But competition never sleeps and we became the victim of our own success as our competitors began to imitate our programming."
"But they did not always succeed because the audience is smart and could tell the difference between a great arthouse film and a mediocre one," he continues. "However, it became harder and harder, even if we were setting trends: first, with great documentaries, great erotic films, committed political European cinema, and finally with films from around the world."

"In the end, programming is a very, very personal thing," Brunner explains. " For instance: a stupid and mean statement of Zeffirelli against Pasolini and pro-Vatican is reason enough for me to be political in my programming choices. "
"Altogether, we showed in the last year more than 70 % European films in our theatres. And this happened without concentrating on market shares for European films - the decisions were made strictly according to the quality of the movies. So, this speaks still well for current European film production."

"Arthouse Commercio Movie is facing exactly the same challenges as the other arthouse theatres in Europe," Brunner says, "to achieve a healthy balance between ticket sales with committed arthouse programming and the increasing costs of running our theatres at a top level". Thus, the subsidies from Succes Cinéma and Europa Cinemas have become ever more crucial. "Without this financial aid, our cinemas could not exist in today's market with the brutal overscreening of cinemas in Zürich (20 theatres too many!)," he notes.

Pictures (from left):
Arthouse Le Paris, Annette Bleichenbacher, This Brunner, Claude Miller, Arthouse Movie 1+2