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Poland's First Arthouse Multiplex Opens

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by Sydney Levine
May 31, 2012 3:27 PM
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As we see cinemas filling up during festivals and sparsely populated by audiences throughout the rest of the year when the films are arthouse quality, it makes sense that a festival is sponsored by a distributor and that a theater becomes more festival oriented. This is a trend which seems to be taking hold as we watch the Toronto Film Festival, Starz Denver Film Festival, Mill Valley Film Festival, San Francisco Film Festival, New York Film Festival become integrated into Film Societies' year round activities held in theaters they own.  This may be the new way of distribution which can keep distributors from bankrupting themselves spending P&A on films which do not gross enough theatrically to pay their bills during a time when digital distribution does not make up for the shortfall.

As Wrocław gears up to be the European Capital of Culture in 2016, the New Horizons Association, in cooperation with the Helios cinema chain and with added support from the City of Wroclaw, is converting one of the central multiplexes in Wrocław into an arthouse cinema and film education centre.

From 1 Sep 2012, the 9-screen cinema with 2,329 seats will operate under the name Helios New Horizons.

Until now, the Helios multiplex has been the main venue of T-Mobile New Horizons International Film Festival and the American Film Festival. The new cinema will be run by New Horizons Association team led by its president, Roman Gutek.  Roman Gutek also owns one of Poland's largest art house distribution companies, Gutek Films which it launched in 2009 and has since released 22 titles.  Aside from the Sundance title Matthew Akers’ Marina Abramovic: The Artist Is Present, it just acquired Polish rights to Cannes Competition titles Holy Motors by Leos Carax, Post Tenebras Lux by Carlos Reygadas and Beyond the Hills by Cristian Mungiu.  All three will have their Polish premieres at the festival and then will be distributed in cinemas throughout Poland. Reygadas will have a retrospective at the upcoming edition of the festival.

With the revamp of this venue, the New Horizons has found a home comparable to the ones of the Toronto and BFI London Film Festival, which will allow the organizers to prepare film events on a large scale throughout the year.

The cinema will concentrate on showing independent films, daring authors’ projects, as well as quality mainstream cinema. It will also be home for festivals and film seasons. A special effort will be made to develop film education projects for children in all ages and students (regular film screenings as part of the 2-year Academy of Polish and 4-year Academy of World Cinema). New Horizons already run a film education scheme for 42.000 pupils across Poland.

Rafał Dutkiewicz, Mayor of the City of Wroclaw, confirmed that Wrocław continues to support the New Horizons Association in implementing educational strategies, believing it will have major impact on widening citizens’ cultural awareness.

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