News / The Network Imprimer
The Network - 09/12/2009
Slovenia – Working towards a network of cinemas for the move to digital
The third pilot project supported by Europa Cinemas within the context of the mini-network activities took place in Ljubljana on 24/25 November 2009. Initiated by directors of the Kinodvor cinema, the professionals discussed ways of setting up a cinema network, which would facilitate the move to digital.
This first meeting of Slovenian professionals, supported by Europa Cinemas and the Slovenian Film Fund, brought together around forty professionals including, of course, Slovenian exhibitors but also their Croatian neighbours. The goal of this meeting was to put together a working group with a view to creating a network, which could become a united voice for liaising with the government. Slovenian professionals therefore propose to raise awareness among the authorities to the challenge of maintaining cultural diversity in preparation for cinema digitisation.
Since the Slovenian market is very restricted (44 cinemas and 110 screens for 2 million inhabitants, 4% of the national cinema market share), independent cinemas mainly use prints from the multiplexes. When the latter make the move to digital, the independent cinemas will no longer find 35mm prints. Digital could therefore rapidly become a necessity for the independent cinemas. And yet, the size of the market will not allow the implementation of the VPF. And no funding mechanism is expected either for cinemas that want to switch to digital or, more specifically, for arthouse cinemas. The manager of the Kinodvor, Nina Pece, therefore wants to highlight the role of the exhibitor and alert institutions to the dangers, which can arise for cinemas if there are no safeguards in place.
The Slovenian professionals wish to draw inspiration from what is happening in other countries and within the framework of this conference had invited Maeve Cook, who was behind the creation of the Access Cinema film theatre network in Ireland. She was able to explain how to create cooperation between the film theatres with different profiles and how to implement the distribution of films. The presentations by Europa Cinemas and the CICAE (of which the Kinodvor is a new member) subsequently added to the debate. The participants were in particular very interested in the idea implemented by Europa Cinemas to encourage small independent cinemas to get together to integrate the network, the joint ventures implemented under its wing, and the problem of management of the cinemas which defend cultural diversity.
The speech by Czech digital expert, Mirek Sochor, enabled local professionals, often still uninformed on the matter, to better understand the challenges, the benefits and the disadvantages. Slovenian professionals are especially interested in Czech digitisation projects (partially financed by the national cinema Fund) and Polish digitisation projects (financing by the Polish Film Institute and European Structural Funds).
The presentation of the situation regarding Norwegian cinema by Brede Hovland (producer of North), was also able to inspire the Slovenian professionals, since it also concerns a small country (4.6 million inhabitants, 430 screens and 16% market share for national films), and yet the authorities are taking control of digitisation.
Clarification of the situation in European countries formed the starting point of a very lively debate on the need for State funding. Discussions concerned the budget for cinema digitisation, access conditions for funding, a provisional timetable, etc. Slovenian professionals are still a long way from having all the answers to their questions but one thing is certain: they have taken a first step to create a group which could defend their interests and this initiative will not go unnoticed in the professional field.
It was therefore jointly decided to formalise the meeting of exhibitors and to create a national network by the end of the year. The Slovenian Film Fund and its representatives, Jelka Stergel and Natasa Bucar, are willing to support this financially.
The Kinodvor team has done an excellent job in raising awareness among Slovenian and Croatian professionals, but they do not forget the people for whom it is all being done: the audience. Two films were therefore screened for the first time in the context of these meetings by their Slovenian distributor, Demiurg: North by Rune Denstad Langlo (present on this occasion) and Tricks by Andrzej Jakimowski, two films rewarded by the Europa Cinemas Label, in Berlin in 2009 and in Venice in 2007 respectively.
Mini-network activities – All-out cooperation in Central Europe
(Network Review, November 2009, pages 27-29)
Contact - Slovenia:
Kino mreža / Cinema Network
Aleš Uhan - Vodja projekta / Project Management