A 7.30 departure from central London bound for Hawkhurst, a town in Kent with a population of 4,400 inhabitants: this was the start of the fourth day on the “DigiTraining Plus 2008” course organized by MEDIA Salles. The objective, for the busload of exhibitors from all over Europe, from Ireland to Estonia and Finland to Spain, was to visit the Kino Digital, a 91-seat cinema in the English countryside, destined, thanks to its high level of innovation, to go down in the history of digital projection. There isn’t a single 35mm projector at Hawkhurst, only a Christie 2K, combined with a Doremi server, whose potential for programming flexibility is fully exploited by the exhibitor. “In this cinema, which is small but offers high quality, in particular as regards sound, the digital formula makes it possible for us to offer 5 to 7 showings a day for 364 days a year, alternating a total of 10-12 titles a week at different times of day, and satisfying the demands of very different audiences,” Matt Breckon, Manager of Kino Digital, told his European colleagues. “In our first year of opening, we managed to sell 38,000 tickets, the proceeds of which represent around 72% of overall takings.” Kino Digital is also a meeting point for local citizens, thanks to the bar, which is open all day and offers delicacies such as real Italian coffee or organic chocolate. The operational simplicity of the digital projector, supported by efficient programming software, allows management costs to be contained and does not require any special staff training. All this has made it possible for Hawkhurst to have its own cinema and to serve a population of around 60,000 people in areas only a 15-minute drive away. Films from all over the world, productions of local interest, children’s films, alternative content, starting out from Italian opera, all represent the Kino Digital offer which combines with mainstream films such as the “Harry Potter” series.
If Hawkhust demonstrates that digital technology, which has come to the town thanks to the support of the UK Film Council, offers a chance to small cinemas and small communities, Detlef Rossmann, President of AF Kino, the German exhibitors’ association, who opened the afternoon sessions, reminded participants that it is the duty of those who represent collective interests to point out the dangers that the new technologies might represent, if they were only accessible to the strongest players on a specific market. This is why AG Kino is strongly committed to debate with the industry and institutions, so that the digital shift does not generate exclusion.
This theme was echoed in the overview
of experiences featuring Silvana Molino of Microcinema and Mathias Holtz
of Folkets Hus och Parker - organizations which, although different, aim
to increase the competitive edge of independent cinemas firmly rooted
in their territories - as well as Massimiliano Giometti, an Italian company
with a family history and a strong tendency towards development and innovation,
Enrique Martinez, representing the Spanish chain Yelmo, involved in the
experimentation of new products such as videogames on the big screen and
Benjamin Dauhrer, the Technical Director of Nuernberg’s Cinecittà,
a 20-screen complex which has made technology its distinguishing mark.
MEDIA Salles, a project
operating within the framework of the European Union's MEDIA Programme,
with the support of the Italian Government, fosters theatrical
distribution of European audiovisual products, both by high profile campaigns
involving Europe's cinema exhibitors and by initiatives to raise the visibility
of European productions with industry players and potential audiences,
creating specialized information channels on a global scale. Thus the
current initiatives from MEDIA Salles dovetail in a program with a triple
focus – training, promotion and information – and maximum