Improving the status of independent film in Croatia through joint efforts and shared experience


The first in a series of local meetings of the EU project Connecting Cinemas in Rural Areas was held as an introduction to the film night Around the World on Wednesdays at the Barone Fortress in Šibenik. Over the next 18 months, the project partners will work through 4 cinemas, 3 cultural centers, 3 universities and 3 festivals on connecting European audience by developing joint programs, strengthening their capacities and organizing cultural events and simultaneous cinema screenings that will provide a completely new experience of watching films at the same time connecting audience from different European regions.

The meeting, along with the expert team of the Fortress of Culture, was attended by partners and associates from the film world who have been working for many years on the development of independent film production and cinematography at the local and national level. In addition to presenting the activities and goals of the project, the meeting exchanged experiences in creating cinema programs and audience development.

Creative Europe Desk - MEDIA Office Croatia is extremely successful in importing national partners into projects from the Creative Europe program and attracting significant EU funds to Croatia. Martina Petrović, director of the Croatian MEDIA Office, who proposed this partnership to the Fortress of Culture, pointed out that this is an ideal opportunity to connect stakeholders from different European countries, but also an opportunity to further promote Croatian cinematography outside the borders of the country. The coordinator of the Motovun Film Festival program, Inja Korać, presented another European project financed from the same program, as a continuation of the existing Motovun Travels project and expressed readiness for cooperation and the need to work together to strengthen media culture in Croatia.

Andrej Fric, head of the Cinema Zone Zadar, shared his experience with the recently launched art cinema and the challenges in creating a year-round art program. This is a new challenge that awaits the Fortress of Culture in the House of Arts Arsen, the opening of which will give Šibenik the intersection of different types of art, with special emphasis on a film as a natural continuation of the the Fortress of Culture cinema program. This example showed that the conditions in Zadar are very similar to those in Šibenik, where movies are shown in a space that is not primarily a cinema, emphasizing that regardless of that, both Šibenik and Zadar record a good response from audiences to independent productions. The director of the Subversive Film Festival program and the head of Dokukina KIC, Dina Pokrajac, highlighted the issue of designing documentary film programs, the lack of distributors for this type of film and the high cost of screening rights. The program manager of the young association Film Youth Center Šibenik, Igor Jelinović, expressed an interest in local cooperation in the future House of Arts Arsen because the association educates young audiences about film production and media culture.

One of the themes was also the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which caused major problems for multiplex halls around the world and commercial world production. Jurica Pavičić, film critic and Motovun Film Festival selector, sees this as an opportunity for the return of audience to the screens of smaller cinemas and education of new generations who do not have the habit of going to non-commercial cinemas. Alen Munitić, director of Split Mediterranean Film Festival and project manager of Kino Mediteran, who has returned film screenings to smaller Dalmatian towns after many years of non-existence of cinemas and film programs, also shared his many years of experience in tackling this challenge. He emphasized that they attracted the audience with a factor of nostalgia and kept it with a quality film program.

The importance of the nostalgia factor was also emphasized by film critic Jelena Pašić, suggesting to symbolically connect the future film program of House of Arts Arsen with the legacy of the name of Kino Odeon in order to return old and attract new generations of viewers to the same space.

The constant growth of visitors of film program Around the World on Wednesdays during the 5 years of its existence, confirms that quality is an important factor in the success of the program. Gorana Barišić Bačelić, director of the Fortress of Culture, from the six-years experience on the Friends Club of Šibenik Fortresses project, whose film program is an important segment, stressed the need to research the audience of cultural programs to create content that meets local needs.

After the meeting, on this year's seventh edition of Around the World on Wednesdays, a projection of a French movie Working girls by Frédéric Fonteyne/ Anne Paulicevich from the selection of Motovun Film Festival program was held. Aproximetaly hundred visitors at the Barone Fortress were introduced with the movie by Jurica Pavičić and Jelena Svirčić, external associate and coordinator of Fortress of Culture film program and PR manager of Restart and Dokukino KIC.

In addition to the leading partner, the German cinema and cultural center Neue Kammerspiele from Kleinmachnow in the project Connecting Cinemas, along with the Fortress of Culture, also participate: Public Art Lab (Germany), Amza Pellea Cinema (Romania), Cinema Star, (Greece) , M2C Institute for Applied Media Technology and Culture at the City University of Applied Sciences (Germany), Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences (Netherlands) and KEA European Affairs Brussels (Belgium).

The project is co-funded by the European Commission from the priority Europe ready for the digital age, and is implemented under the call "Cinemas as Innovation Hubs for Local Communities". The total budget of the project is € 611,455.00, of which the amount of € 72,440.00 refers to the budget of the Fortress of Culture Šibenik.

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