Call by the CICAE to secure Iceland’s only arthouse cinema
Arthouse cinemas are united by their commitment to preserving cinema’s cultural heritage, producing excellent theatrical experiences, and serving their communities. Exceptional exhibitors bring international, independent, and critically acclaimed films to their neighbourhoods. Arthouse cinemas are vital cultural spaces for communities: as meeting points and places of free speech, they foster democratic values in our societies.
In a nutshell: they choose to serve their community over the maximization of profits.
Many internationally acclaimed film directors would not have been able to launch their careers without the support of enthusiastic arthouse exhibitors who believed in the artistic value of their work. Giving up the only arthouse cinema of Iceland deprives both the Icelandic film makers, – whose professional guild owns and operates it – and the audience who will lose access to a diverse and high-quality programming.
Since Bíó Paradís started operating in 2010, the number of films screened in Icelandic cinemas stemming from sources other than Hollywood has more than quadrupled. Hrönn Sveinsdóttir and the team of “Bíó Paradís” have done outstanding work over the last years. They improved admissions every year and made big investments to create a space that welcomes people of different ages and social groups, making their building wheelchair accessible under challenging circumstances. And they presented a diverse line-up of European titles and local film productions. As a non-profit organization with limited resources, Heimili kvikmyndanna has done well, covering 80% of their operational costs through their own efforts.
Now, real estate speculation and greed could put an end to this.
Which other cinema in your country would dedicate their spaces entirely to a Children Film Festival, showcase the best of Icelandic arthouse cinema, selections of French, Polish, Japanese, Russian, German, Korean productions, or the hidden gems of film heritage? Which other cinema would run an extensive film educational program to shape the next generation of filmmakers and moviegoers?
Over and over, Iceland has been a leading example in many ways to other European countries when it comes to the support for the arts, for nature, for its people. I urge you to maintain your only arthouse cinema for to preserve a community and for their stories to stay alive.
European Film Awards will be held at Harpa Conference and Concert Hall in December 2020. CICAE members from all over the world would love to see the future of Bíó Paradís as a home for the awarded films secured.
In hope of seeing Bíó Paradís, and therefore Iceland stay on the map of the arthouse cinema community. For this we have to join forces!
Dr. Christian Bräuer
President of CICAE