Tuesday, December 6

The most important Film Festival for the future of theaters

Last July, two legendary venues in the center of Madrid, Conde Duque Santa Engracia and Alberto Aguilera, closed their doors forever. It was a new closure that once again highlighted the vulnerability of the film exhibition sector, which has not returned to normal after the pandemic due to the change in forms of consumption and the complicated economic situation. The owner of those rooms, Adolfo Blanco, told this newspaper then that this closure would not be the last. He foresaw “a small rosary of closures between now and the end of the year.”

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Despite this, he was somewhat optimistic and pointed to a fundamental date for this, the last quarter of the year, which will be “key to see if the adult public, who always moves less in summer, comes back”. That optimism has been transferred to the presentation of the new edition of the Film Festival, in which all those responsible have indicated their good expectations despite the fact that the data is not so encouraging. The director of the Federation of Cinema Exhibitors of Spain (FECE), Luis Gil, said at the end of the act that the estimate is that in 2022 there is “a 40% drop compared to the figures from before the pandemic”. He explained that this decrease also affects other leisure options such as theater or music, which he did not want it to sound “consoling”, but it was helping them “to understand that something has happened after the pandemic”.

Precisely for this reason, and because of the box office data of the last few weeks, this Film Festival —which will take place from October 3 to 6— feels like the most important of these 19 editions, since the objective is clear: to return to attract viewers to theaters. To those who have not returned since the restrictions ended. For them there will be four days of movies at 3.50 euros that can be booked online and that for those under 14 years of age and over 60, no electronic procedure is necessary (for the rest, you must register on the initiative’s website).

From the Federation of Film Distributors (Adicine), its president Estela Artacho calmed things down. “We are not so bad,” he said before stressing that “the last quarter is always important because there are good movies” and pointed out that the function of this Film Festival was to “encourage people”, but that during the rest of the year there are many other opportunities and that the important thing is that “people keep going”.

In this edition, which will have four days instead of three and which will culminate with the celebration of the first edition of the Spanish Cinema Day, the Association of Independent Distributors has joined the organization, whose president, Enrique Costa, believed that this event it has to serve to “bring the public closer to the theaters because there is a significant distance and an invisibility of the audiovisual sector”. He also emphasized the great moment of Spanish cinema and that everything should not be focused on the great blockbusters to end with a wish: “That the public once again feel comfortable with our cinema, being in that space”.

Luis Gil was honest about the data from the last edition, which last May brought together 704,927 spectators, one of the lowest figures of all editions. “Yes, we would have liked to have had more impact, but we are aware that we came from a pandemic stage, with closures and restrictions. We are making efforts to recover the public, and it was a decent figure. In this edition we want to expand those data, and we believe that normality is recovering”, said the representative of FECE.

Yes, we would have liked to have had more impact last year. We are making efforts to recover the public

Louis Gil
Director of the Federation of Cinema Exhibitors of Spain (FECE)

Enrique Costa added that the Spanish situation does not differ much from that of almost all countries, something that they verified thanks to the data that Comscore has shared with them, and for this reason he ruled out that this Film Festival was “a last call”, but rather “a more effort from the industry to get closer to the public”. He stressed that the initiative, which was born in France, will be held this year for the first time in the United States and made it clear that in future editions “new actions will be carried out to get closer, this is not a last chance, but the demonstration of an action that exists and will exist for more years”.

The Film Academy was the venue for the presentation of the event, a place chosen to reinforce the message that the film festival will coincide with the Spanish Film Day, which will be held for the first time on October 6, the same day it ended the shooting of That happy couple Berlinga and Bardem’s film. The president of the institution, Fernando Méndez Leite, referred to the exhibition as “one of the greatest concerns for people in the cinema” and trusted that “the festival of cinema serves to remind us that the theaters are still there, waiting for fill up again.”

In spite of everything, the actress Toni Acosta stood out in this optimism, who together with Ernesto Alterio were chosen as the first ambassadors of the Film Festival and who gave a concrete piece of information to invite illusion. The third installment of Father there is only one, that she stars in, has raised more than the first, which premiered in July 2019, before the pandemic hit the entire sector. Now we just have to wait for the data to see if this quarter starts off on the right foot or pessimism begins to set in.