News / The Network Imprimer
The Network - 22/01/2016
Europa Cinemas Awards 2015 - Best Entrepreneur
Kino Meeting Point was opened just after the 4-year long siege of Sarajevo (Bosnia-Herzegovina) ended, in 1997. It happened through a private-public partnership in which a war-ravaged former public cultural centre was turned into a state-of-the-art cinema. Our non-for-profit association, Obala Art Centar managed to fundraise internationally and gear local community support to start the cinema and we have been successful in managing it ever since.
Today it stands for quality cinema experience, not only in Sarajevo, but also across former Yugoslavia and the region, known for its refined programming, superb technical capacities, and a great bar and innovative event hosting capabilities. Very centrally located, amid different university departments, most notably between the two art academies, those of drama and the fine arts, it attracts a young crowd of avid art lovers and established artists alike.
It is also the home of the Sarajevo Film Festival (SFF). The two are inseparable when it comes to audience development. The visibility of the festival shines the light on quality films that might not be someone’s first choice on TV, home video or the multiplex, while the year-round offer of quality films in the cinema continually creates and maintains the cinema going culture.
Our biggest challenge is like the Red Queen from Alice in Wonderland: “You have to run faster just to stay in the same place”. Watching films on personal screens has become ubiquitous. We always need to work harder to highlight the communal part of the experience, such as making it a great night out, facilitating an exchange of opinions or offering the sheer old sense of belonging, to make cinema-going really worthwhile for an individual, family and society as a whole.
The country has only 31 modern screens and overall cinema attendance has been very low for many years now. However, it has been growing for the last three consecutive years. The growth has also benefited European films, however they still lack the visibility and it is most often down to the specialized exhibitors and festivals to create even basic visibility for most European titles. Besides a few globally-positioned English-language European films, the most your European non-national arthouse success film can hope for is not more than 2 to 3 thousand admissions from 5 to 6 screens over two or three weeks in Bosnia. Its worth mentioning, for the sake of comparison, that a European film programmed in the Open Air programme of the Sarajevo Film Festival can make the same number in one screening only.
Facebook is our key tool; it has lowered our advertising costs and has put us in direct contact with our audience for everything from basic information to discussion about films and programming ideas. We have over 10,000 followers, 90% of them from Sarajevo, with whom we communicate on daily basis. Youngsters, members of our film club and volunteers, are making an important contribution to our Social media teamwork by introducing their peers to the work of the cinema.
We are very proud of the IFFR (International Film Festival Rotterdam) Live and the CPH Dox (Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival) opening that we proposed last season: our audience was very enthusiastic to take part in these Europe-wide participatory events. The first question from the audience chosen for the panel discussing the screening of 1989 at the latter event in Copenhagen actually got “tweeted” from Kino Meeting Point.
Another project we are proud of is the SFF Operation Kino, which we started together with the Transylvania, Sofia and Istanbul festivals. The rationale was that the region shares common problems in the exhibition sector, namely lack of modern infrastructure and widespread piracy that have ultimately degraded the cinema-going culture. Still, our events were all very well attended. So, we decided to test the Festival-as-distributor-and-exhibitor concept, use the visibility of our respective brands in our own territories, share some of the costs and fundraise jointly and “go back” to the traveling cinema model.
The project expanded from 10 cities to more than 40 cities currently in Bosnia and Herzegovina. We programme films that would definitely “not-reach-the screen-near-them” along side more obvious choices hoping to broaden the scope of existing film lovers and recruit some new ones at the same time. We also operate a VoD platform with a couple of thousand titles that we promote at public screenings, so the access to quality content does not stop after we leave town.
Offering interesting and quality programming, based on a mix of best new art house films, national and other thematic weeks, classics and children films, with as many guest talks before and after the screening as we can provide. Good programing incorporated in the event-driven cinema concept is one of our strategies for the future. Our VoD platform is an additional step in how to approach and attract mainly young audience, addicted to the use of handheld devices. We will continue to invest in our cinephile club and work closely with elementary and secondary schools to foster new generations of cinemagoers. We are going with a clear message: “Watching films in cinemas is a unique and priceless experience”. Cinema (film) will be a link to other “life” aspects: Film and Music, Film and Food, Film and Literature, Film and Politics. It will be more and more interesting in Kino Meeting Point! Welcome to Sarajevo to discover it and enjoy!
Mirsad Purivatra, Obala and Festival Director