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The Network - 18/11/2010


Europa Cinemas Awards 2010 - Best Programming


Skalvijos Kino Centras

Skalvijos Kino Centras, Vilnius (Lithuania)

“It means a big responsibility to keep the level of the quality and diversity of the programming, develop new ideas and projects,” says Vilma Levickaite of Vilnius’ Skalvijos Kino Centras about being selected as the winner of this year’s Europa Cinemas Award for Best Programming. The one-screen cinema with 88 seats in the Lithuanian capital has been a member of the Europa Cinemas Network since 1997 – initially as part of the MAEE Programme (French Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs) and then under the auspices of the MEDIA Programme from 2003.

Levickaite says being a member of Europa Cinemas has meant that her cinema has been “constantly keeping its finger on the pulse of the most important issues in European film industry. Thanks to the Network we receive latest updates regarding new developments in European film policy, cinema-going trends, challenges of new media and technology, etc. For a cinema like ours, membership in the Network has also meant a very significant financial contribution. Thanks to the grant, we were able to distribute European titles such as The Class, Delta, and The White Ribbon.”

Education is one of the key activities at SKALVIJA, which notably established the Skalvija Film Academy in 2007. 14-18 year-old young people can participate for 1-2 years in hands-on workshop taking place twice a week. Young filmmakers are guided and consulted by film professionals, and their results are screened publicly in the cinema.

Meanwhile, 2010 has seen the cinema continue its new initiative, the “Karlsono kinas” film programme targeted at young families. “Every weekend, families with small kids are invited to watch new quality European films in our cinema,” Levickaite explains and points to such titles as the animation film The Ugly Duckling and Me, Europa Cinemas Label winner La Pivellina and Dominique Monféry’s Eleonora’s Secret. Another highlight at the cinema is the International Vilnius Documentary Film Festival (VDFF) which was held for the seventh time this year. “Each year, we work hard to raise the profile of documentary film in Lithuania and our aim is to promote the best and most interesting documentaries from all around the globe,” she says. 2010’s guests included the master documentarists Pawel Lozinski from Poland and Nicolas Philibert from France.

The cinema’s achievements are all the more remarkable given the serious obstacles faced by the arthouse sector in Lithuania. There is no national funding strategy to support arthouse cinemas’ programming or their plans to modernize. Moreover, the relatively small audiences for arthouse films has led distributors to stop acquiring quality films – and, consequently, cinemas such as Skalvijos Cinema are forced to distribute the films themselves. At the same time, there is no institution in Lithuania responsible for acquiring, keeping and preserving the film heritage. “The programming of classics is facing a real challenge of balancing between legality and illegality, and the inability to ensure the quality of the projection,” Levickaite says.

In order to meet these challenges, five arthouse cinemas created the Lithuanian Association of Non-Commercial Film Exhibitors. “We hope that our voice and interests will get louder and stronger while contributing to the development of film policy in Lithuania as well as representing the Lithuanian art cinema sector on the European level,” Levickaite declares.

Martin Blaney

Pictures (from left):
- Prize-giving 2010
- Kinodvor's pictures