This month we spoke with Boglarka Nagy, the programmer of the Elvira Popescu Cinema, a trendy cinema in Bucharest named after the most famous Romanian actress in France, Elvire Popesco (1894-1993).
Hosted in a wonderful building in the heart of Bucharest, Elvire Popesco Cinema is the venue of the French Institute in Romania and it has regular programming of European and art house cinema Thursday to Sunday.
It is also features almost weekly premieres and avant-premieres, European and French movies, some of which are exclusively shown in the presence of their directors. It also hosts theatre and dance shows, concerts and conferences and, quite often the morning sessions are reserved for film education and press screenings.
FNE: What is the biggest challenge of running a cinema such as yours?
Boglarka Nagy: We have started this year to develop a programme dedicated to young audiences by having regular screenings during the weekend and by setting up partnerships with festivals and professionals that would present movies during those screenings.
However, there are only a very few Romanian distributors who buy the movies we could programme, so we have to negotiate the screening fees with international distributors from other European countries and do the translation, subtitling and publicity for them several times a year. It’s also especially challenging to attract these audiences because of a lack of a coherent film education in schools, but things are getting better.
FNE: What kinds of films do you prefer to screen and why?
B.N.: I like to choose films that create a connection between art house lovers and cinema fans in more general terms, author movies that are accessible and that make the cinemagoers interested in more “hardcore” art house cinema as well.
FNE: The cinema is home to many festivals, events and film weeks. Why are these important and what do they achieve?
B.N.: The festivals and events that take place at the Cinema Elvire Popesco help us to develop partnerships that are valuable both for the French Institute with which the cinema is affiliated and for the partners.
Throughout the year we try to bring movies to the cinemas that aren’t on offer on other screens and to bring film directors for discussions with the audience. Festivals and events emphasize the fact that our cinema is a place of special encounters and a way to show a wider range of European and especially French cinema.
FNE: What is role of Europa Cinemas for cinemas such as your cinema and why is it important?
B.N.: Europa Cinemas helps the cinemas partly with funds, but also by facilitating the professional exchange between film and cinema professionals. I recently had the opportunity to participate in an intriguing seminar in Bologna organised by Europa Cinemas and I have learned a lot from colleagues from other countries and experts on how to present a movie or how to work with social media for the benefit of the cinema.
FNE: How does a cinema like yours serve the local community?
B.N.: I could briefly return to the idea of partnerships, because I think it’s important that we chose to be partners with festivals that represent human rights or that support education and diversity. But sometimes Elvire Popesco can be a space of debate and a meeting point as well for specific conferences or shows produced by local communities.
FNE: Can you say something about your work with young audiences?
B.N.: Young audiences are some of our important guests and so Elvire Popesco cinema is a host for almost all the existing film-related education projects in Romania (Éducation à l’image, Cinema Edu, Astra Film Junior, Sexul vs Barza, Shot in My Community or the film education projects of festivals).
In addition to these, in March 2014 we started a series of regular young audiences and family screenings on Saturday and Sunday mornings, and we hope to add more interactivity and workshop-like presentations to them soon.
FNE: What about the digitalisation of cinemas? How will it affect your work and your cinema?
B.N.: Elvire Popesco Cinema has already been digitalised and so I can only talk about what it has already changed for us. It’s great that we can receive good quality digital copies of new movies from distributors all over the world and offer our audience good screening quality.
This change will first of all ensure that we can keep up with the market and continue showing movies, but the transport is also cheaper and it makes things easier for the projectionist. However, we have kept our 35 mm projector as well, so we will still screen from real reels on special occasions, in this way we can show classic movies that have not yet been edited for a DCP.
Population: 19.5 m (2018) GDP per capita in USD: 12.19 thousands (2018) Admissions: 13.3 m (2018) Admissions domestic films: 389,172 (2018) Admissions per capita: 0.68 (2018) Box office: 55.9 m EUR / 262,981,558 RON (2018) Box office domestic films: 1.42 m EUR / 6,712,375 RON (2018) Number of screens: 404 (2018) Digital screens: 380 (2018) Average ticket price in EUR: 4.2 (2018) Annual state support for film industry: 15.5 m EUR (2018)
Sources: Romanian Film Centre, the International Monetary Fund
Box Office Top Ten 2018
Fifty Shades Freed
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