FNE together with Europa Cinemas continues its Cinema of the Month series. In recognition of the hard work and excellence of European cinema operators we choose a cinema from each country covered by FNE each month.
We look at the challenges and the successes faced by those cinemas with a special series of interviews that offer insights that other operators can benefit from and a platform for the exchange of ideas. This month we focus on the Czech Republic and Petr Jirasek is is the manager of Svetozor Cinema in Prague.
Petr Jirasek, Manager: Svetozor Cinema Petr Jirásek is manager, statutory representative and shareholder of Světozor, one of the most adventurous cinemas in Prague. Opened in 2004 and renovated in 2007, Světozor is now an art-house cinema functioning on the site of a cinema dating from 1918. Světozvor has a large screening hall with 365 seats, a small screening hall with 54 seats, a bar and a café. The cinema runs not only art films, but also documentaries and also minor and experimental genres such as animation, video art, net art, commercials, video-clips, and short films. Jirásek, born in 1976, has managed Světozor since 2004 and is also a shareholder of the distribution company Aerofilms s.r.o. (www.aerofilms.cz). A graduate in accounting and finance at the University of Economics in Prague, he previously worked at the Ministry of Finance of the Czech Republic.
What is the biggest challenge of running a cinema such as yours?
The biggest challenge has remained the same for many years now – to keep communicating with our audience so that we succeed in our effort to build a community of audience that is interested in quality film art, an audience which will keep returning to our cinema and will give us feedback on our work and their interests. And, of course, presenting great movies on the big screen and introducing film art to audiences will always be a challenge. What kinds of films do you prefer to screen and why?
Films of certain artistic qualities and films which reflect certain social topics. No matter what region these films come from, it depends only on the way they can communicate with audience.
The cinema is home to many festivals, events and film weeks. Why are these important and what do they achieve?
Festivals, debates, special screenings, regular screenings of, for example, documentaries are important to keep audiences interested in our cinema and in our work. We want our visitors to become part of what’s happening here, and special events and festivals are the perfect way to achieve a long term relationship between the cinema and its audience. What is the role of Europa Cinemas for cinemas such as yours and why is it important?
Europa Cinemas helps all these to happen, and that’s important. We also tend to view our membership in Europa Cinemas as recognition of our good work. How does a cinema like yours serve the local community?
If we can provide the space, conditions and impulses for social gatherings, debates and cultural exchange through all the activities that we organize, I guess that’s the exact role a cinema like Světozor should be playing in its local community. How does the cinema fulfill its role of cultural diversity - maybe you can give some examples such as programming of European films, films from countries outside MEDIA countries such as Asia, Latin American and in the Mediterranean region?
Quality film art is diverse per se – meaning that we can not only help to support cultural diversity through presenting quality film art, coming from European countries, but also from outside Europe. For example, the festival of Iranian films we co-organised in Světozor in January was a tremendous success. But let’s not narrow the concept of cultural diversity to only a national basis; various subcultures functioning in the society are present in many films which are warmly welcomed by our audience. Films on architecture, sport topics, political issues, etc., have their slots in our programme because they enrich our view of this world – and maybe as a side-effect, these films also support cultural diversity. Can you say something about your work with young audiences?
Světozor supports various activities aimed at young audiences – film workshops where kids can create their own films, film poster workshops which help them understand the role of the film poster in a campaign and the specific art of this art form, a very popular summer film camp called Aertěk, organised visits of school kids with the background of cinema, etc. What about the upcoming digitalisation of cinemas? How will it affect your work and you cinema?
Population: 10.6 m (2018) GDP per capita in USD: 20,368 (2017) Total admissions: 16.34 m (2018) Admissions per capita: 1.54 (2018) Box office: 88.6 m EUR (2018) National market share: 22% (2018)Feature film production: 60 (2018) Number of digital screens: 513 (2018)Average ticket price in EUR: 5.42 (2018)Annual state support for film industry: 14.1 m EUR
Source: Population Reference Bureau, World Bank, Czech Film Fund
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