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The Network - 16/05/2014


Interview with Pierre-Emmanuel Finzi, Stadtkino & Filmhaus (Vienna)


At the end of the Cannes Festival, a jury made up of 4 network exhibitors will award the Europa Cinemas Label to the best European film presented during Directors’ Fortnight. Pierre-Emmanuel Finzi will be part of this jury.

Since 2009, he has been working at the Stadtkino (single-screen cinema with 285 seats) and Filmhaus Kino (single-screen cinema with 100 seats), two network member cinemas in Vienna. In addition, he takes care of purchasing for the company’s distribution arm, “Stadtkino Filmverleih”. He is an editor for the Tausend Augen magazine and publishing house and has also worked in production and international sales (The Coproduction Office, Essential).

1 – How do you view contemporary European cinema?

 I think that ten years ago you could still see “waves” that marked the sudden boom in national filmmaking, as in the case of Romanian cinema with Corneliu Porumboiu and Cristi Puiu or the “Berliner Schule”. Today, however, it seems to me that visual cultures are more diffuse and group effects are less obvious. European cinema, which is multifaceted, is venturing further beyond territorial expectations and it is more the producers, such as Komplizen Film in Germany, Les Films du Worso in France, O Som e a Fúria in Portugal or Zeitun Films in Spain, who are bringing through young talent.

2 – More specifically, how do you see European cinema from a “commercial” perspective?

A European film, and even more so an Austrian film, will have a better chance than a Senegalese film of attracting a wide audience, but we fight just as hard to keep a Polish or Spanish film on the bill, because we believe the film has to be shown in spite of very poor admissions. As we never screen films like Welcome to the Sticks or Notting Hill – we don’t put any safe bets on the bill – every success is a pleasant surprise.


3 – What is the editorial approach of your cinemas, the Stadtkino and Filmhaus Kino? Does the approach differ between the two? Have you already organised European film festivals in your cinemas?

As we are also a distributor, at the Stadtkino we programme our own films, from their first week of release. These are demanding auteur films, from Austria or any corner of the globe, shown in their original version with subtitles. At the Filmhaus Kino, we also programme our own films, but not necessarily from their first week, and sometimes in the dubbed version. We also programme films from other distributors at the Filmhaus Kino, as well as Austrian films that are being distributed by the directors themselves. These directors are prepared to move heaven and earth to breathe life into their films, which makes working with them extremely stimulating.

With regard to European film festivals, at the Filmhaus Kino we have days dedicated to Croatian or Kurdish cinema, for example, but these have met with limited success.

4 – How do these two cinemas fit into the exhibition landscape in Vienna and what kind of audiences do they attract?

The Stadtkino is an institution that, since 1981, together with the Film Museum, has been a place that people have visited even if they know nothing about the film being shown. A relationship based on trust has been built up between the audience and the cinema. This audience is ageing to a certain extent, but since we moved the cinema to a more central district we have been able to reach a different audience. The Filmhaus Kino opened in 1995 and functions almost like a local cinema. Although audiences do not come from as far afield as those who visit the Stadtkino, they can be extremely eclectic depending on the programming: there are weekly meetings in collaboration with a major magazine (Falter) and monthly meetings such as the Vienna Jewish Film Club or Iranian Film Club, which have their regular attendees. We also welcome a student audience through the “cinema class” of the Academy of Fine Arts – these students come to view public projections as part of their seminar.

5 – What do you expect your experience to be like on the Europa Cinemas jury for the Directors’ Fortnight?What are your initial thoughts about the 8 European films that have been programmed in this selection?

It is the first time I have been a juror and I look forward to exchanging opinions on these 8 films with colleagues from other countries and opening my mind to other perspectives. I am only familiar with the earlier works of 3 of these directors and I therefore have no opinion on the selection, although in recent years I have always seen at least one real treasure, a film that is both demanding and accessible, at Directors’ Fortnight.

6 – Is there something you definitely want to do during this festival and what films are you looking forward to in particular?

I would like to be surprised, by a completely unexpected film or a film that becomes a must-see in just a few days due to word of mouth and proves to live up to these rumours. I will continue to follow works I rate highly and/or those of directors to whom we have been loyal for a number of years, from Abderrahmane Sissako to Jessica Hausner, Jaime Rosales, Lisandro Alonso, Jean-Luc Godard and Djinn Carrénard.

by Marie Cousin, Flora Anavi.