Reg. Trib. Milano n. 418 del 02.07.2007 - Direttore responsabile: Elisabetta Brunella

International Edition No. 160 - year 14 - 20 November 2019

 
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ADDED CONTENT: Experts' Corner

 

We have started this new column giving voice to the people who have already been working with added content for some time now, gaining first-hand experience in the field which we think is worth sharing internationally.

Zsófia Buglya - Head of Programming - Urania National Film Theatre, Budapest

- Which type of audience do you target with added content?

Zsofia BuglyaBeing the National Film Theatre of Hungary, Urania has a responsibility to address and develop a diverse audience, while showing high-quality, exclusive programs that can fill an auditorium seating 425 on a regular basis. The appearance and, from then onwards, the growing variety of alternative content has become an important vehicle in fulfilling the institution's cultural mission. And as with our many film weeks and film series during the year, we look for variety in the field of event cinema as well; we try to pick something for all tastes and all age-groups and communicate these added contents accordingly.

- We know that you offer a variety of added content: what is the most successful type?

The MET Live in HD season has been a bestseller, of course. With both live transmissions and encores, some popular titles can attract up to 1,700 spectators, as Nabucco did in 2017. Some theatrical performances have become evergreens too, first and foremost NT Live's Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch in the title role: since 2015, we have had 20 screenings with an average of 385 viewers per screening. Shakespeare and Cumberbatch together are simply a must for everyone, and allow us to include less evident pieces into the programme, such as The Madness of George III or All My Sons. We know that these two will never reach the same popularity in Hungary, simply because they are not part of the Country's general culture. But they are important reference points for a smaller group of theatre-loving intellectuals.
There is another field that I would like to highlight, and this is the Exhibition on Screen series, for which we have been able to develop a very special, devoted audience. We show these titles in dedicated time slots at Urania, mainly Saturday morning and Sunday afternoon, and the screenings have become real events, often family events, for many of our cinemagoers. As distributors know about this fan circle, they are keen to bring us regular film titles dealing with the arts, e.g. biopics about painters. This is how regular and alternative titles help each other.

- Is the ticket price for added content higher than the ticket price for films?

Of course, the price for added content is significantly - 2/3 times - higher, because working with these titles demands a lot more: more human resources, longer screening times, more communication etc. Regarding communication: we plan our event cinema titles long ahead, almost on a seasonal basis, which allows us to have seasonal programmes, where, again, contents can feed into one another.

- Which was the most successful screening in 2018/2019?

I think one of the most successful titles was The Curious World of Hieronymus Bosch: 2,066 people saw it at our 6 screenings. And of course the BTS Love Yourself Tour in Seoul concert, which was available in January for one day only, with 3 sold-out screenings on that one day.

- Can you please mention some titles that you programmed in 2017-2018 and those you will programme in 2020?

In 2017/18 we made an attempt with a few Stage Russia screenings, classical Russian plays, as we did earlier with one Comédie Française event (Le Misanthrope). Neither of them became really popular, but were worth to try. As for 2020, we have already announced many of our seasonal programmes, among them the MET and the Bolshoi, but we hope to receive further offers for one-time screenings as has happened with Depeche Mode: Spirits in the Forest, which will be screened on November 21.

- Do you believe the Hungarian market for added content/event cinema will develop in the near future?

I assume it will, but it is also a question of regulations. I think the art-house cinema scene needs exclusive and event-like contents, which can be either festivals and film clubs or event cinema. Otherwise we cannot compete effectively with multiplex cinemas. But art cinema regulations cannot fully handle added content yet. And as long as screening alternative content entails the risk of losing a cinema's art label, it can prevent cinemas (and distributors) from trying out new types of contents or simply feeling good about planning ahead creatively. Also, Hungary is a small language territory with a relatively small potential audience, therefore cinemas in Hungary will never have the same easy access to event titles as their peers in the UK. More initiative and more groundwork is required, in order not to discourage smaller venues from taking their first steps towards event cinema.

ALL DIFFERENT ALL DIGITAL

This column hosts portraits of cinemas in Europe and the rest of the world which are quite different from one another but have in common the fact that they have all adopted digital projection.
 
Country
Site
Town
No. of screens
No. of digital screens
Technology
Czech Republic
Edison Filmhub
Prague
1
1
BARCO DP2K-12C

Edison Filmhub

Today, 11th October 2019, is a very special Saturday in Prague. Thousands and thousands of fans from all over the Czech and Slovak Republics and from other neighbouring and German-speaking countries have come to pay their last respects to Karel Gott, the singer known as the Frank Sinatra of the East, who has died at the age of eighty. Meanwhile, groups of supporters fill the centre of the Capital, before moving on to the football stadium for the qualifying round of the 2020 European Cup. For all those - whether citizens of Prague or tourists - who wish to avoid the mile-long queues and crowded trams, the centre of the city on the Moldau offers an oasis of peace right next to St. Henry's Bell Tower and the museum dedicated to Mucha, an icon of Art Nouveau. This oasis is the Edison Filmhub, a cinema opened on 1st June this year by Film Europe Media Company, the distributor whose objective is to distribute European films in the central-eastern area of the Old Continent. The Edison, which owes its name to its site in an interesting, rationalist building created in the 'Twenties as an electrical power station, to whose inauguration the famous Thomas Alva (unfortunately unable to be in Prague due to illness) was invited, has been designed as a cinema but at the same time as a place to meet and relax in. It has been conceived by Ivan Hronec, director of Film Europe, who believes that, alongside the tendency to consume images on individual devices, there has never ceased to be a desire for a more communal type of experience revolving around the viewing of quality films off the beaten track - and indeed, if anything, this trend is growing. Thus, the elegant auditorium, seating 75, is entered from a café designed as the exact opposite to the popcorn-cola counter, with its rapid, stand-up service. At the Edison Filmhub, starting from the food on offer - which ranges from quiches to banana bread, and the drinks, which range from the now international espresso and cappuccino to the eminently local zero-kilometre cider - right up to the interior decoration with newspapers and magazines on the tables, everything serves as an invitation to enjoy the peace and the company. And whilst the selection of quality beers recalls the Czech tradition, the clientèle is decidedly international, partly because the café, which is also a place where Airb&b keys are handed over, attracts travellers from all over the world. The programming of the cinema is also international, both because it includes titles from various continents and because it offers films in their original language, in English or with English subtitles. This particular Saturday, for example, the programme includes "Synonymes", The French-Israeli drama that won the 2019 Golden Bear, "System Crasher", Germany's candidate for the 2020 Oscar in the "Best Foreign Film" category, and "Goldfinch", the film adaptation of Donna Tartt's novel, which premièred in September at the Toronto Film Festival. These are recent or extremely recent films - and in particular a choice of titles screened at the leading world festivals, from Venice, Berlin and Cannes to Toronto and the Sundance - but also classics and niche "events", such as documentaries on the legendary concerts of the 'Sixties and 'Seventies. Not to speak of the film series destined to bring more or less distant film-making traditions - from the French to the Scandinavian - to Prague's audiences. The convivial intentions of the Edison Filmhub are further highlighted by the activities "surrounding" the films, such as meetings with authors or stars or debates on the themes dealt with in the films programmed. To give just one example, the participation by Nora Fingscheidt, the director of "Goldfinch", a film that deals with the issue of problem children.

To sum up, a "boutique" cinema that places its odds on the very modern, like top class technology (there is no lack of 3D and bookings can be made online on the "Go out" platform, later presenting a QR code at the box-office), and on what hasn't gone out of fashion even in the digital age, such as quality programming and the desire to spend a special evening out.

(Per leggere il testo in italiano cliccare qui)


WOMEN IN DIGITAL CINEMA

Irene Musumeci
Film Marketing Manager - Exhibition at Curzon

Silvia CibienAm I a woman in digital cinema? I suppose so. I work for Curzon, a unique cinema company which comprises exhibition, distribution and VOD. We operate fourteen beautiful, fully digitised cinemas across the UK, although we still maintain a few 35mm projectors and often use them for events or special presentations. Curzon Artificial Eye is the hallowed distribution label responsible for bringing to these shores the works of François Truffaut, Andrei Tarkovsky, Agnès Varda, and Wong Kar-Wai amongst many other titans of cinema, and alongside contemporary talent like Joanna Hogg and Andrew Haigh. Our VOD platform Curzon Home Cinema pioneered and continues to champion day-and-date releases to great success, particularly when it comes to European films (45 Years, The Square and The Souvenir were recent milestones). At Curzon my role is in marketing, a sector which has been completely revolutionized by embracing digital technology - not just social media, but data analysis, email communications, developments in e-commerce - and the digital world is a huge part of my day-to-day work.
 
However, I don't identify as a 'digital native'; my beginnings were firmly rooted in the analogue world. I came to the UK from Italy as a student to train as a theatre director. I worked in live theatre for a few years before returning to my first love: cinema. I never had any ambition to be a filmmaker, I just loved watching films. My greatest talent was persuading people to go and see the films I was passionate about. That's marketing, I thought, and I started to forge a path into this career. Through experiences in distribution, sales and exhibition I had to learn much about what it means to be a woman in digital cinema.
 
Like many women who have written this column, for a long time I didn't have the impression that gender was much of a factor in the opportunities and challenges I have encountered in my career. This is probably a testament to the fairly high degree of fairness and meritocracy that exists in British professional contexts, as well as to the steely women who fought battles for us all in previous generations. But recently I became a mother of twins. Suddenly I was made very aware of the role that gender plays in career paths. Taking a year out of work to look after my babies was a wonderful experience, and I am fortunate to be operating in a social system that allows for a long maternity period. It is nonetheless hard to work in an industry that has very little flexibility in terms of working patterns, with dozens of new films being released every Friday of the year, while also managing a newly expanded family.
 
Being a woman in digital cinema for me has meant negotiating a number of contradictions and paradoxes: this industry is full of openings, but it can also be closed in on itself; it creates space for experimentation but it can be ruthless with failure; it welcomes diversity and youth but it demands experience and awareness of tradition. I feel that my formative years in a different art context and European education system were crucial in understanding that creative careers are rarely straightforward and never linear. Women are excellent navigators of long and winding roads, and experts in the art of adaptation. Every skill and every experience accumulated over time eventually turns out to be useful. The women I have encountered in this world have practiced the art of gathering pieces of knowledge and composed their beautiful mosaic. That in itself is an art - whether in the digital, analogue, or just the real world.

 

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