This month we speak with Zuzana Dibdiaková, charged with Production and Marketing at Kino Lucerna (www.kinolucerna.cz), the longest running cinema in the Czech Republic. Located in the very center of Prague, this mix of Renaissance and Art Nouveau with approximately 500 seats is embracing the present with digitalised screenings and various activities.
FNE: What is the biggest challenge of running a cinema such as yours?
Zuzana Dibdiaková: Our cinema in the historical building of the Lucerna Palace is the longest running cinema in our republic. We celebrated 100 years of continuous operation in 2009. History can be felt within its walls and this is what we try to preserve. Its historical interior is appealing both to the older generation that has been visiting it for so long, and to the younger audience that we try to attract by numerous events, festivals and our specific programming. The biggest challenge for us is not only to deliver the best experience to our faithful visitors but also to open the cinema and attract new audiences. We try to create an appealing alternative for film enthusiasts by combining art house production with current quality titles.
What kinds of films do you prefer to screen and why?
In our programming we primarily respect the aims and objectives of the Europa Cinemas ( http://www.europa-cinemas.org/en/) network to which we belong. We promote European titles with lower commercial potential, and we present Czech and international both art house and more commercial titles, combined with numerous festivals with a different focus and special events popular with our visitors. We believe we can create an alternative for cinema lovers by creating a pleasant environment where they can enjoy a quality cinema experience.
The cinema is home to many festivals, events and film weeks. Why are these important and what do they achieve?
These events are important for several reasons. In order to attract the interest of a common cinemagoer, it is necessary to prepare a compact package of movies bound together with an idea, origin or topic. People like to be served a compact and dramaturgically prepared set of movies selected carefully and with a guarantee of quality. Another reason for organizing such events is the possibility to attract new audiences or to educate a new generation of cinema lovers that will keep returning to our cinema. Moreover, it is always easier for a cinema to promote a more complex and compact project or cycle than single screenings or movies.
What is the role of Europa Cinemas for cinemas such as your cinema and why is it important?
Our membership in the Europa Cinemas forms part of the identity of our cinema. By joining the network we adopted its policy which we try to spread by offering a varied programme with a focus on European production. The network does great work by supporting cinemas that want to differentiate from the mainstream commercial multiplexes. Many great movies originating from Europe would not have a chance to be screened in cinemas without the help from the network. It also helps us to educate the young public hopefully into regular and frequent visitors of our cinema in the future.
How does a cinema like your serve the local community?
Our cinema is situated in the very center of Prague. Our location is a great benefit that opens wide possibilities. We offer afternoon screenings for elderly audiences that have gained great popularity during the past years. We also include in our programme movies and special events for children and therefore create a possibility for families to spend quality time in the city center. We organize screenings friendly to foreigners and offer a wide selection of festivals throughout the year targeted not only on our regular visitors but also on younger audiences and students. We believe we offer an alternative for a more demanding audience that keeps coming back to us.
Can you say something about your work with young audiences?
Throughout the school year we stay in contact with schools that come to our cinema for school screenings. We regularly update our offer and selection of movies suitable for schools. For local Czech movies or where possible we invite special guests or members of the production team for a discussion after the movie. This kind of feedback and open discussion makes the movie experience even more valuable. For some movies centered on topics from the history we cooperate with the nearby National Museum that offers expert background and discussions with professionals and historians.
What about the digitalisation of cinemas? How will it affect your work and your cinema?
Digitalisation in the Czech Republic is in a relatively advanced stage. Distributors stopped producing 35mm prints and offer only digital copies. Cinemas that do not digitalise cannot survive. It is a necessary step forward in the evolution of cinema technology bringing an enhanced experience to the final consumer by ensuring top quality image and sound and hopefully satisfying the growing needs of visitors. The effect in our cinema is quite noticeable. We have access to all opening movies and are very free in our programming. We screen a wider selection of movies and can prepare all sorts of thematic events and festivals.
ContactKino LucernaVodičkova 36, Praha 1tel. (+420)224 216 973, (+420)739 298 978www.kinolucerna.cz www.facebook.com/kinolucerna
Population: 10.6 m (2019) GDP per capita in USD: 22,850 (2019) Total admissions: 18.32 m (2019) Admissions per capita: 1.72 (2019) Box office: 104 m EUR (2019) National market share: 26, 5% (2019) Feature film production: 60 (2019) Number of digital screens: 515 (2019) Average ticket price in EUR: 5.68 (2019) Annual state support for film industry: 14.1 m EUR (2019)
Source: Population Reference Bureau, World Bank, Czech Film Fund
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