The Europa Cinemas network together with the Sofia International Film Festival organised Sofia Audience Development & Innovation Online Lab 2021 with Longing For The Big Screen as its theme.
In three sessions of the Europa Cinemas Online Lab that was held from 22 to 24 March 2021 about 20 European exhibition practitioners (for each session) were getting some perspective on their own context and exchanged expertise about how to cope with these unprecedented times.
The focus for these sessions was on sharing approaches to reopening cinemas and reflecting on experiences during the extended closure, covering topics such as:
- Bringing back audiences after long closure
- Devising programming strategies; challenges and opportunities for theatrical content
- Collaboration with and distinguishing from online screening platforms and social media
Practice-based insights from exhibitors were offered as well as opportunities for smaller group discussions. The sessions were moderated by Frank Groot (Programmer, KINO Rotterdam, Netherlands) and facilitated by leading exhibition practitioners from across Europe:
– Metka Dariš (Director, Kinodvor, Slovenia) & Mustafa El Mesaoudi (Director, Cinema and Rex Filmtheater, Germany).
– Alen Munitić (Director, Kino Mediteran, Croatia) & Wiktoria Pelzer (Programmer, Stadtkino im Künstlerhaus, Austria).
On the first day of the lab Metka Dariš made a short presentation Who’s afraid of VOD?, followed by Q&A. She talked about conceptualizing an online platform not as a product but as a service and encouraged to use it as an opportunity to rethink communication and promotion strategies. She facilitated a breakout session with a theme: Rethinking our communication/audience development strategies with specific target groups in mind.