Happy Birthday Kinodvor!
The Sloga Cinema gained notoriety in the 1980s through the screening of erotic films until its rebirth as Kino Dvor in the 1990s. When the city's cinemas began to close down at the end of the millennium, the then Kino Dvor closed as well. It was rebuilt and opened as an art cinema in 2003 under the leadership of Silvan Furlan, Director of Slovenska kinoteka (Slovenian Cinematheque). Unfortunately, the cinema's doors closed soon after Furlan's death and it seemed as if this cinema had no future. In spite of difficulties, the Municipality of Ljubljana established the new Kinodvor public institution in 2008 and asked Nina Peče, from the International film festival Kino Otok Cinema Isola, to become its director. It has become the city cinema showing high quality, contemporary films for a discerning audience. The expected 50,000 visitors per year was exceeded in the first year and today, almost 120,000 visit annually. Kinodvor is exceeding all its spatial capabilities and according to Nina Peče Grilc, building new cinemas is the only and best solution.
Are you satisfied with the first 10 years of Kinodvor?
Overall, we achieved the goals we set at the opening of the city cinema in May 2008. It was a special period for cinema in the world and in our country. People were questioning why they would watch a film in a cinema when there were so many other platforms where it could be watched. After cinemas in the city centre were closing down in the late 1990s, some of the habits of going to the cinema died out. In these circumstances, we decided to profile Kinodvor as a city cinema that would offer the best film experience in technical and otherwise best possible conditions. Our aim was to become a professional film institution as well as a cinema for all audiences. We succeeded in establishing a cinema that treats film as an art and the viewer equally respectfully.
Who is your audience?
The cinema is intended for a wider audience which is as diverse as films are. From the youngest First timers through Kinotrip for teenagers to the Rendez-Vous film club for seniors. The age category is not the only diversifier, we offer programs that can attract people with different interests or can stimulate diverse habits such as Raincheck screenings, Breakfast at Kinodvor, Early Bird or Kino-babies. There are also those that chose Kinodvor for their cinema and rarely visit other cinemas. Our results show growing interest in European film, with more than 60 percent in our program. We are a (board) member of the Europa Cinemas association, but programming of European film at Kinodvor far exceeds demand. However, together with the international film festivals, we offer diverse cinema from all around the world. Our mission is to flourish cinema culture, which begins with the film education of young people and continues to satisfy the needs of more demanding film lovers.
You were the first cinema with film education in Slovenia.
At the time of Kinodvor's founding, there was a lack of quality, especially European, film for the youngest in Slovenia, so we started to develop a program of film education for children and young audience. Kinobalon, founded by Petra Slatinšek, is based on the understanding of the film and conversations are an interaction with children to help them on the path to becoming an independent viewer. The program triggered a snowball, Art Kino Mreža Slovenia has developed into a well-functioning association in the past ten years, offering quality cinema with activities of film education across Slovenia. The Europa Cinemas Association noticed our efforts in the early years of Kinodvor as a city cinema, Kinobalon received a prize for Best Young Audience Activities and we are a reference in international circles. This year we became a partner in a special EU project, Cinemini Europe, for children aged two to six, led by the established film institute EYE from the Netherlands together with prominent partners such as the Deutsches Filmmuseum in Frankfurt and Austrian Film Institute.
Who selects the films?
I have two main program co-workers, Koen Van Daele, who heads the program and Petra Slatinšek, who is in charge of film education and the young audience program. Within the program, other selectors join us to create the program for festivals, special selections, special screenings, discussions or projects. Of course, the choice depends largely on the films available in Slovenia, that is, film distribution and the festival program. However, we are completely autonomous in our program, we know our audience best and we look at our program as a whole. There is so much diversity which brings a lot of challenges including how to communicate the program to a diverse audience and how to accommodate everything in one screening hall. Therefore, based on the excellent results, we plan to increase the number of cinema halls.
What kind of a plan?
In accordance with the strategy and plans of the Municipality of Ljubljana, the construction of a new city miniplex is planned in Podhod Ajdovščina, in 2022. The Kolodvorska screening hall will remain and Kinodvor will get another big hall and three small halls. There will also be an additional, bigger hall, which due to the technical characteristics cannot be equipped as a cinema, but will be available for seminars, talks, round tables, etc. We want to keep the profile "more than a cinema" and that is why a coffee shop, bookshop, gallery, children's corner and all of the things that we see as components of the city cinema and social space are planned. We believe the city centre will have quality content and a cultural centre for all generations, with a special cultural program.
What would you recommend for foreigners in Slovenia?
The most popular programs in summer, visited by more and more foreign guests, are already in two languages, the original with English subtitles, such as the Film Under the Stars at Ljubljana Castle and the Open-air Cinema at Kongresni trg. We try to make the program accessible to foreign guests, each month, we select films that invite foreigners who live in Ljubljana and communicate the program through our partners and institutions. Our third program, apart from films in regular distribution and film education, is a festival program, which is particularly international. We have many festivals, from the most important Ljubljana International Film Festival, LIFFEe to Animateka (Animated Film Festival), the Documentary Film Festival, City of Women, Francophone Film Festival, and the Week of the European Film, etc.
What else are you preparing this year?
One of the main events this Autumn will certainly be our tenth anniversary week at the beginning of October which will feature the premiere of one of the main Cannes winners, Pawel Pawlikovsky's Cold War. Another highlight will be the premiere of the Bosnian film, The Frog, directed by Elmir Jukić, marked by an exceptionally powerful performance by Emir Hadzihafizbegovic. The Bosnian star and the director will be joining us for the premiere.
What was your first encounter with the world of cinema?
I came across film in 2004 when the first film festival, Kino Otok, was formed with the aim to show films that were not in regular distribution in Slovenia. As a volunteer, I worked with experts from Slovenska kinoteka and Kinodvor and immediately recognised the special initiative and enthusiasm. By talking to the film critic, Nika Bohinc, who is unfortunately no longer with us, and working with Vlado Škafar, filmmaker and founder of Kino Otok, the door into the world of film opened to me. It is interesting that many guests, who were then hosted as promising artists, are well-established artists today. This experience helped me and Koen, my colleague at Kino Otok, decide to lead Kinodvor when the Municipality of Ljubljana was looking for leadership for the new public institution. I started the project with my colleagues, in whom I believed, they were both cinephiles and experts.
Kinodvor invites you:
From 20 September: On Chesil Beach, Dominic Cooke, 2017
From 18 October: The Children Act, Richard Eyre, 2017
31 October: Halloween Horror Marathon (selected by leading Slovenian film critic (and horror aficionado) Marcel Štefančič, Jr.)
From 7 - 18 November: Ljubljana International Film Festival LIFFe
From November: The House that Jack Built, Lars von Trier, 2018
From 3 To 9 December: Animateka International Animated Film Festival.
On New Year's Eve, we invite you to three special New Year's premieres and a toast with a glass of sparkling wine.