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 Kino.Lab and we speak to its director, Michal Matuszewski.
Our timing was perfect since Kino.Lab will see its first digital projector this month. Kino.Lab is hosted by the Centre for Contemporary Art. Its programme is an extension of the activities of the Media Arts Laboratory. The 74 seat cinema screens films ranging from avant-garde productions to contemporary Polish explorations and non-feature films. Kino.Lab also hosts conferences, lectures, and last but not least festivals.
What is the biggest challenge of running a cinema such as yours?
Our biggest challenge is to attract an audience for our programmes, which is not always easy. But what's more important is to get the bug for an interesting, uncanny programme. Therefore, it's sad to say, the main problem is money, fundraising. Art can be really expensive... I could also mention that being between the public culture and the free market cinema industry is a big challenge, but there are good sides to it too.
What kinds of films do you prefer to screen and why?
Good ones, but sometimes really bad ones. Kino.Lab is on one hand a film programme of the Centre for Contemporary Art Ujazdowski Castle, and on the other hand a regular tiny, one screen art-house. It's more a kind of laboratory of film art. You could find there both “mainstream art house” and video art, experimental film, avant-garde, from new European cinema through classics, contemporary art, to exploitation horror movies. Programing is the key issue for us.
The cinema is home to many festivals, events and film weeks. Why are these important and what do they achieve?
Yes, we do have plenty of various events from huge ones like Watch Docs Film Festival, to smaller reviews and cycles. In fact they are not only enriching our programme but they are making them. The traditional model of a cinema screening just few titles for weeks does not work in our case. Almost all of our screenings are special events.
What is the role of Europa Cinemas for cinemas such as your cinema and why is it important?
Europa Cinemas is helping us a lot, but more important than the financial support is being part of big network and feeling that we are part of the European film business.
How does a cinema like your serve the local community?
As a cinema in an art gallery we are very far from the “popcorn” model. What we want to offer is the best radical programme, meeting with top art, but not forgetting the entertainment.
Can you say something about your work with young audiences?
We agree that education and young audiences are crucial. We have programmes for high schools, which could look traditional (lecture + screening), but their strength is in programing and lectures by specialists from the University of Warsaw. As for the youngest, we have a cycle called Little Kino.Lab with programmes of animated films and workshops.
What about the digitalisation of cinemas? How will it affect your work and your cinema?
May is a crucial month for us. We are going to install a digital projector in two weeks time. I'm not sure that it would change a lot in our profile, but of course it would give us more flexibility in programing. We couldn’t avoid that anyway, so we are going to accept it with joy. I'm only waiting for more art films in 3D!
Centrum Sztuki Współczesnej Zamek Ujazdowski
ul. Jazdów 2, 00-467 Warszawa
tel. (22) 6295289