ZAGREB: Croatians and a large international cultural contingent are protesting the closing of Kino Europa by the City of Zagreb.
Europa Cinemas, the European Film Academy, the Ljubljana Film Festival, the Sarajevo Film Festival, the Pula Film Festival, as well as the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek, the American actress Geraldine Chaplin and the Bosnian director Danis Tanovic are among those who have sent letters of support for the Zagreb Film Festival, whose contract for Kino Europa was ended abruptly by the municipality of Zagreb.
“We deeply regret that the very existence of Kino Europa is threatened in its 10th year as a Europa Cinemas member, though fully functioning and highly successful”, Claude-Eric Poiroux, General Director of Europa Cinemas, said in a letter of support.
According to a notice received by the Zagreb Film Festival two weeks ago, the cinema must close on 1 June 2019, when the contract between ZFF and the City of Zagreb expires, leaving two of the most important film events using Kino Europa as main venue, Animafest Zagreb (3-8 June 2019) and the Zagreb Film Festival (10-17 November 2019), in limbo.
“Don’t close down Kino Europa! Leave it open until the renovation starts!”, Boris T. Matić, the director of the Zagreb Film Festival, said at a gathering where hundreds of people protested the closing of the cinema.
The municipality is invoking the need to renovate the façade for six months, but the management of the Zagreb Film Festival, who leased the cinema in 2008, said in an open letter that the municipality didn’t answer any of its letters sent in the last five years, including the request for the extension of the contract and also three solutions for the renovation.
According to the Croatian daily 24sata, the mayor of Zagreb Milan Bandić promised that after the restoration the building will not lose its purpose as a cinema and a new lease contest will take place, where the ZFF can apply, but the ZFF believes that any interruption in the cinema’s activity will affect the cultural life of Zagreb.
Built in 1924/1925, Kino Europa was commissioned by the wealthy Zagreb-based Müller family and destined to become the most important film theatre in the region. The City of Zagreb bought the cinema after a campaign by the ZFF and the Croatian Film Association. In 2008 the Zagreb Film Festival was entrusted with the management of Kino Europa.
The activities of Kino Europa are supported by the City of Zagreb, the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, the Ministry of Culture and Ministry of Entrepreneurship and Crafts. Kino Europa has been a member of the Europa Cinemas Network and the International Confederation of Art Cinemas (CICAE) since 2008. It is also supported by the European Union's MEDIA programme.
Kino Europa was declared a protected cultural heritage and national treasure of the Republic of Croatia in 2013 and it was awarded the Best Programming Award from Europe Cinemas in 2016.