Romania Launches Save the Big Screen Campaign

Cinema Portile de Fier - Drobeta Turnu Severin Cinema Portile de Fier - Drobeta Turnu Severin Romanian Film Promotion

BUCHAREST: Romanian Film Promotion and Transilvania IFF have launched the national campaign Save the Big Screen/Salvaţi marele ecran consisting of documenting existing old cinemas, a documentary, seminars, a special screening during TIFF and a crowdfunding campaign.

"The campaign has a clear target. We plan to have at least a network of five or six renovated cinemas in a couple of years," Tudor Giurgiu the president of Romanian Film Promotion said, adding, "The city halls have to work together with the cultural managers and the NGO’s interested in transforming these dead places into digitally equipped modern cinemas which can host also other important events for the local community."

From the approximately 450 cinemas that existed prior to 1990, less than 30 are operating today. Less than 10 cinemas were renovated in the past two decades, and during this time the audience shrunk 50 times compared with 1990.

"Cinemas were converted in the last 20 years into gambling places, exchange offices, churches, supermarkets, fast food restaurants, furniture shops, and restaurants for weddings. There was great hesitation and the cinemas moved between RomâniaFilm and the city halls. At the moment the cinemas issue is like a ball which rolls from one government to another, but no one is eager to take big risks," said Giurgiu who initiated the campaign.

In its attempt to make a point, Save the Big Screen also produced a full-length documentary about the old cinemas, Cinema, mon amour directed by Alexandru Belc, which will premiere at TIFF. A crowdfunding is hosted by we-are-here.ro to help the cinemas purchase the necessary technical equipment. TIFF will host a workshop on how to find money to renovate old cinemas 31 May - 1 June, and it will highlight success stories from Poland and Croatia. Transilvania IFF will also screen some films about this hot issue, such as The Last Remaining Seats by Marios Piperides (Greece/Cyprus).

On the website of the campaign, www.salvatimareleecran.ro, Romanians are invited to tell their own stories and to share their memories about the old cinemas by posting texts, photos, and videos.