The Europa Cinemas (EC) network has secured a further two years of funding from the European Union’s MEDIA Programme.

Now in its 20th year, the EC network has grown outside of the EU to 68 countries, comprising 1,111 member cinemas and 2,943 screens.

In addition, EC member cinemas are among 70 independent cinemas with 156 screens in 18 countries, which have been awarded $4m (€3.1m) by MEDIA as part of its cinema digitisation programme.

The EC cinemas supported in this funding round include:

  • Dublin’s Light House Cinema
  • Tallinn’s Kino Soprus
  • Krakow’s Kino Pod Baranami
  • Pordenone’s Cinemazero
  • Warsaw’s Kino Muranow
  • Berlin’s Hackesche Höfe and Cinema Paris
  • Padova’s Multisala MPX
  • Sofia’s Dom Na Kinoto (Cinema House).

The funding is aimed at European independent cinema operators who screen a majority of European films – of which at least 30% are European non-national – and who acquire and install a DCI-compliant digital projector.

MEDIA’s support in the form of a lump sum of $25,700 (€20,000) per screen co-finances the costs related to the digital transition, excluding the cost of the digital projector and server.

Media chronology debate

Meanwhile, the media chronology debate and MEDIA’s day-and-date preparatory action are likely topics for discussion at the EC annual network conference, which opens in Paris on Friday morning (Nov 23).

A recent online poll by German magazine Blickpunkt:Film on the EU initiative found little favour with over 75% of the respondents.

30.6% argued that such a venture would thwart national attempts to keep cinema culture alive, while 27.6% suggested that such funding was obsolete because “the simultaneous exploitation is a question of strategy, the necessary infrastructure already exists.”

Only 24.5% of the replies spoke in positive terms about the action.

Silver “particularly excited”

Speaking exclusively to Screen ahead of the EC conference, MEDIA unit head Aviva Silver said that she is “particularly excited” by the Artificial Eye project “where you have the Curzon cinemas, Gutek Film with their new cinema [in Wroclaw] and Match Factory. This to me is really encouraging.”

“I don’t subscribe to the view that media windows are terrible for the industry, I think that’s nonsense because media windows finance film,” she continued.

“But, at the same time, I think that not all films should be left on the shelf waiting for the media windows to run out.

“Yet it seems to me that the cinemas are reluctant to accept that they will need to move again in the future, “she added.

“I can understand that they have had a difficult time: they had to go digital and upgrade their existing installations. In addition, there has been the whole move from single screen to multi-screen to multiplex, and there has been competition for arthouse cinemas from the big chains taking the big European films. This has created a very delicate economy for cinemas.”

Real data

However, Silver stressed that it was “important that we don’t have certain politicians trying to run ramshod over practices or laws; but that, with enough projects and an analysis of about 70 releases across the preparatory action, we can actually show them some good indicators of where it could actually work and whether it is linked to a particular film, budget, story, etc.

“This will help us to really feed into this debate with some real data instead of as we usually do with such sensitive issues on the basis of politics or the positions of incumbents such as the telecom operators.”

“The fact we have insisted on the inclusion of cinemas in these projects is because we consider cinemas are the best promotion and best screens for these films,” Silver concluded.