Save arthouse cinemas, ensure film diversity
by Christian Bräuer,
President of Cicae
If effective immediate measures for our sector do not take effect soon, bankruptcies can be expected Traditional cinemas and arthouse cinemas in particular, with their high level of social and cultural commitment, do not just follow the principle of profit maximisation. Tackling the pandemic is a challenge for society. It entails responsibilities for all of us. The same applies to the economic consequences. Here, of course, we are also dependent on state aid. We need aid programmes specially tailored to the situation of cultural venues and arthouse cinemas, otherwise there is a danger that in the end many will disappear forever and culture will fall through the net.
CICAE is advocating that, ideally, 4% of the European Recovery Fund's resources should be reserved for the hard-hit cultural and creative industries in the Member States. This would be proportionate with the 4.2% of EU GDP and the 8.7 million jobs that the cultural and creative sectors represent.
One thing is certain: Superheroes, Star Wars and everything that algorithms reward will continue to exist after the crisis. But what about culturally sophisticated films? Phenomena such as Parasite, Shoplifters or The Square show how decisive film festivals and the exclusive start in the cinema are for the success of a film across all release windows and, in the case of exceptional accomplishments, over many years and decades. Arthouse cinemas not only bring cinematic art to the neighbourhood: through their passion and commitment, a film can become a phenomenon. Works like those mentioned above would never have been seen by so many people if they had been exclusively screened online. These films need every single cinema and every single guest, in order that they can succeed, otherwise we might lose an entire art form.
In most countries, arthouse cinemas have been reopened again because they are part of the basic cultural services. However, the high level of safety requirements and a lack of attractive films (still) make commercial activity extremely difficult. Some of the audience are cautious and avoid visiting events in enclosed rooms. The so-called second wave is currently leading to increased safety requirements being re-imposed in some cases or even to cinemas being closed again.
Cinema is a place of culture and, in our understanding, a place of elementary discourse in our society. Culture is not a luxury good, but the yeast in the dough of society. Especially in times of crisis, art and critical debate are more important than ever for a free, democratic community.
Where market power is concentrated, artistic diversity suffers. The main focus of the entire film industry must therefore be to secure the economic survival of as many arthouse cinemas and other film industry actors as possible in the current crisis. In recent weeks, arthouse cinemas have proven that they are prepared to make tough decisions in the interest of securing other branches of the industry.
We believe in the fundamental importance of cinemas. Media use continues to differentiate, but cinema has a unique strength in digital times: the analogue venue and the community.
As Christopher Nolan commented in the Washington Post: "The past few weeks have been a reminder, if we needed one, that there are parts of life that are far more important than going to the movies. But, when you consider what the theatres provide, maybe not so many as you might think."
To read the full text of Cicae’s appeal click here