This month we speak with Branislav Holly and Hana Kutlikova from ArtKino Metro in Trenčin, Slovakia. Branislav Holly is the manager and the main programmer of the cinema, while Hana Kutlikova is in charge of the youth audience activities and international events.
Built in between the two world wars, in 1938, ArtKino Metro belongs to the most traditional cultural venues in the city of Trenčín. Its goal is to bring the cinema through the challenges of the 21st century film distribution by restoring the charm and the sense of community that cultural events used to bring in the past. The organisation of workshops, discussions with filmmakers and local festivals lie at the core of its efforts.
In 2018 the cinema is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a special film selection of the most successful films from the history of cinema.
FNE: What is the biggest challenge of running a cinema such as yours?
Branislav Holly and Hana Kutlikova: We are facing two main types of practical challenges. The first challenge is financial: most of the income from the admission fees goes to the distributors and the cinema is left with a small percentage of the box office. Secondly, our aim is to screen high-quality films and at the same time we need to fulfill the requirements of the funding schemes that demand a high number of screenings (more than 500) and admissions (15,000).
As our cinema is situated in a smaller town with 60,000 inhabitants, these numbers are difficult to reach only by screening high quality films. In addition, Slovak film distributors offer only a selection of European art films, therefore we sometimes have to compromise when preparing our programming.
FNE: What kinds of films do you prefer to screen and why?
Branislav Holly and Hana Kutlikova: Our goal is to screen high-quality films, preferably European productions. We want to offer an alternative to the more commercial cinema theaters and to provide the audience with an experience that they cannot get on other platforms.
FNE: The cinema is home to many festivals, events and film weeks. Why are these important and what do they achieve?
Branislav Holly and Hana Kutlikova: The organisation of festivals and other film events allows us to bring to our cinemagoers exceptional films that are not in usual distribution. It also helps us to target specific types of audiences more efficiently. Organising festivals is a great way to build communities of people with similar interests, tastes and to broaden their horizons.
FNE: What is the role of Europa Cinemas for cinemas such as your cinema and why is it important?
Branislav Holly and Hana Kutlikova: The support that we get from Europa Cinemas is vital. Their financial aid is crucial. Furthermore, we benefit from their expertise in the field; they help us to maintain the overview of what is new in the cinema world, of the new films, technologies and marketing strategies.
We have organised multiple events in our cinema thanks to Europa Cinemas, for example simultaneous screening of a LUX prize-winning film together with other European cinemas and an online discussion with the director.
FNE: How does a cinema like yours serve the local community?
Branislav Holly and Hana Kutlikova: The community lies at the root of our efforts. We are the only cinema of our type not only in our town, but also in our county. We organise special screenings for inhabitants of all age groups, from pre-school children to seniors and people with special needs. Are you a mountain lover? A French language lover? A fan of the golden age of Italian cinema? You will find screenings and a community of like-minded people in our theatre.
FNE: Can you say something about your work with young audiences?
Branislav Holly and Hana Kutlikova: We start to expose kids to films really early; we organise special morning screening for parents, who can come to the cinema with their children. We organise screening for schools from the age of 5 to 18, and workshops where students can learn about different topics, e.g. creating animations or camera use. In our programming there is also a space for art school students, who can take the initiative and screen their short films and present their first works of art.
We struggle to show the youngsters that watching a film on their laptop is different than watching it at the cinema in DCP quality, where you can discuss it with your friends and learn what lies behind it.
Thanks to Europa Cinemas and 28 Times Cinema, we were able to send one of the young filmmakers as a jury member to the Venice Film Festival.
FNE: What about the digitalisation of cinemas? How it is affecting your work and your cinema?
Branislav Holly and Hana Kutlikova: Digitalisation had a positive impact on our programming. We can choose from a larger variety of films and we can screen them immediately when they are released in our country, meaning when the publicity is at its highest. It also enabled us to support students and amateur filmmakers more easily and to promote our activities better. Furthermore, the quality of the image and sound has improved. Lastly, the digitalisation caused a reduction of the number of necessary employees and consequently it reduced our expenses.