Five hundred spectators at two mid-week screenings in Elgin, a small town with 20 000 inhabitants in the North-West of Scotland: the release of an American blockbuster? No. Instead, we are talking about the screening of a short film produced by local primary-school children as part of the Openground project. Five hundred tickets that bear little weight in the over nine-hundred million sold annually in Western Europe, but which are highly significant for the Moray Playhouse, a two-screen, Art-Déco theatre dating back to 1932, which recently entered the digital age. And which, thanks to the flexibility offered by digital screening, can easily afford to present local-interest content and thus consolidate its role as a centre of culture and social aggregation in its own territory. This was the example used yesterday, 9 July, by Mike Vickers, professional programmer and member of the MEDIA Salles Executive Committee out of a sense of social commitment, to open the eleventh course "DigiTraining Plus: New Technologies for the European Cinemas of the Future".
The impulse that the new technologies can give smaller theatres, which are often the only point of reference for those who, despite living a long way from the big cities, do not want to give up the pleasure of the big screen, is one of the themes at the heart of DigiTraining 2014. It is no coincidence that, as well as the support of the MEDIA Programme and the Italian Government, this year's course is supported by the FFF and MFG, the cinema funds of Bavaria and Baden Wuerttemberg, which have for years been committed to making the most of independent cinemas, the true strongholds of cinema-going and cultural life throughout the territory, as confirmed by Klaus Schaefer, Director General of the FFF, in his talk at the opening session.
This session was held in one of the "hauts-lieux" of cinema history: the headquarters of the ARRI, a name of excellence in Bavaria, acknowledged worldwide for the quality of its movie cameras, which now offers a wide range of services for digital cinemas.
Yet, whilst digitalization is an obligatory choice for the future of a cinema, there is no underestimating the fact that the high costs of conversion risk excluding many cinemas that do not have sufficient resources: this is the message from Andreas Kramer, Director of HDF, the German exhibitors' association, who commented on the statistics showing how, for some years now, the numbers of cinemas operating in Germany have been falling, along with the number of centres with at least one movie screen available.
His words were echoed by Felix Bruder, Secretary General of AG Kino, the German arthouse association. After presenting the advantages digitalization can offer quality cinemas, such as more flexible programming, constant quality and greater ease in managing theatres that are often single-screen (54% of the total), family-owned businesses, he expressed the concern of this category of exhibitors, who are facing greater running costs for the projector and wondering how they will be able to afford the next generation of digital equipment.
Over the next few days, the course programme will include talks on the possible solutions for reducing running costs.
Informamos a nuestros seguidores que hablan español que el compañero de la revista Cineinforme Antonio Roldán está cubriendo el curso DigiTraining en exclusiva para España.