Diversity of Cinema Programs in the Digital Age

Peter Bosma
Independent film researcher and film programmer, based in The Netherlands
Published at European Digital Cinema Forum (www.edcf.net) - 9 December 2015
Table of Contents
1: Introduction
1.1 The condition to secure a diversity of cinema theatres
1.2 The need to negotiate a new distribution deal, to explore alternative business models
1.3 The target to address and to attract an audience for every screening
1.4 The urgency to curate an artistic diversity of cinema programs
2: Six Strategies of programming
2.1 Luxury Cinema: creating comfortable settings
2.2 Movie Nostalgia: conserving old settings
2.3 Event Cinema: organizing alternative settings or alternative content
2.4 Cinema Club: ‘social cinema’ – stimulating to like, share, interact and participate
2.5 Niche Film Festivals: catering to target taste groups.
2.6 Film Heritage: expressing a personal view on film history.
3. Discussion
3.1 The Never-ending Development of Strategies
3.2 Some Critical Thoughts about ‘Home Cinema’
3.3 To Conclude

1. Introduction
Has the cinema a future? This remains a relevant question, especially in 2015. Twenty years ago the centenary of cinema was celebrated and for many experts it was an occasion for expressing their fear of witnessing the end of cinema as we know it. Is there still reason for alarm in 2015? I do not think so.
On the dark side there are still issues that needs attention, I discuss these in the first paragraph hereafter. First, we need a diversity of cinema theatres. Second, we need a new distribution deal, to explore alternative business models. Third, we always need an audience for every screening. Fourth, we need an artistic diversity of cinema programs. On the bright side there are many opportunities to counter all these issues. In the second paragraph, I limit myself to a discussion of a line-up of six strategies. Some are old and proven, some are relatively new and promising.
This position paper originated from the general question ‘Where do we stand now?’, measured in Summer 2015. Film exhibition is more than ever in a process of adapting to new circumstances. Times are changing and so does the general set-up of cinema exhibition. One indication of this development is the fact that film projection in nearly all film theatres worldwide has been digitized. The purpose of this paper is to explore the consequences of this transition regarding the safeguarding and enhancing of the diversity and quality of the programs offered in European cinemas. Digitization offers a lot of potential possibilities for ‘speciality programming’, such as cinema on demand, or new forms of Event Cinema (integration of various alternative settings, or alternative content). But in practice it still implies a lot of challenging efforts to realize a wide variety of film events. In my view, it is important to face this challenge because I believe that a diversity of cinema programs improves the way we see ourselves and the others, far away and close at hand. The opportunity to have a choice of cinema experiences is for me an essential condition for a tolerant and open-minded point of view on the world you live in, a stimulation to reflect upon your own position and circumstances.
Digitization compels us to rethink the features of an inspiring cinema programming that stimulates the survival of a high-quality film culture. I would like to investigate the current situation and discuss the conditions, threats, possibilities and various existing options.
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