Europa Cinema in Zagreb Closing Down?

By 6 April 2019

The Europa Cinema in Zagreb will close its doors on Sunday, according to the decision made by the cinema’s management and Boris T. Matić, director of the Zagreb Film Festival (ZFF), the art organization that has been managing the oldest Zagreb cinema building for the past ten years, reports on April 6, 2019.

This means that the Festival of Tolerance, which was supposed to start on Sunday, will not be held at the Europa Cinema, and the same goes for the Subversive Film Festival in May and the Animafest Zagreb in June.

The Zagreb Film Festival employees on Friday received a letter from the Zagreb City Office for Property Affairs which informed them that their 10-year lease agreement expires on June 1 and that they must hand over the Cinema Europa building to the city authorities on that day. Otherwise, in accordance with the Law on lease and sale of business premises, "further legal action will be taken." The letter includes a detailed explanation.

“Considering that, during inspections and according to your requests, it has been concluded that the renovation of the building is necessary, the town authorities have undertaken preparatory measures for the cinema’s renovation (adaptation), including renovation of the roof of the building. The equipment and chairs in the main hall are run down and do not meet the technical and safety standards, and parts of the plaster ceiling are falling. Also, the boiler room operates using heating oil, which endangers the safety of the visitors and increases the heating costs,” says the letter signed by office head Damir Lasić, adding that the works are expected to last for six months.

The cinema management explains that they have already partially renovated the building. Also, in October they send a letter to the city authorities asking for the contract extension, but no reply was received. The decision to close the cinema was made spontaneously. “No one talked with us during the last six months, despite our requests filed within the deadlines, and now, two months before the expiration of the contract, we realise that they want to expel us under the guise of renovations. Reality and emotions are mixed,” says Boris T. Matić.

The City Office for Culture has granted the Zagreb Film Festival the usual annual grant in the amount of 420,000 kuna for operations, but this money is almost entirely repaid to the city through the rent for the cinema.

“Cinema Europa costs the City of Zagreb zero kuna. As a matter of fact, all the income we make is again invested in the cinema building. And then they send us the letter to leave by June 1. They will supposedly renovate the facility within six months, although we know that no budget has been foreseen to renovate the cinema. What does this mean for future events, for Animafest, which was supposed to start on June 2? If we leave, who will organise this programme?" Matić asks, adding that ZFF employees heard two years ago that Cinema Europa would become a folk music club, and that nobody has convinced them to the contrary.

Translated from (reported by Silvana Srdoč).

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