After Renovation, "Europa Cinema" Will Remain Art Cinema

By 8 April 2019

ZAGREB, April 8, 2019 (Hina) - Europa Cinema (Kino Europa) will remain an art cinema after the necessary renovation, the Office of Zagreb Mayor Milan Bandić has said in a press release which was prompted by announcements of Cinema Europa's management which said that the movie theatre in downtown Zagreb would be shut down as the lease for the premises has ended and the City of Zagreb was taking it back.

"After the necessary renovation, Kino Europa will remain an art cinema. The lease awarded to the current tenants ten years ago has expired and under the law and in accordance with the lease agreement, the current tenants need to leave the facilities by June 1. Apart from ownership, the city needs to be in possession of the facility to be able to carry out the renovation," the press release said.

More than 2,000 people gathered in front of Cinema Europa in Zagreb on Saturday afternoon to show support for the cinema’s management, as the future of the Zagreb movie theatre Europa Cinema (Kino Europa), which is the oldest active cinema in Croatia, seemed uncertain.

On Friday, the cinema’s management announced that they would close the cinema this weekend after they received notice from the City of Zagreb that they would need to exit the premises on 1 June 2019 due to renovations.

Cinema Europa management said in a statement that the City was using the guise of the renovations to get rid of the cinema’s current management and bring a new tenant in.

However, on Saturday afternoon, the Zagreb Film Festival director Boris T. Matić admitted that their reaction a day before was a result of their shock and surprise. He said that 10 years ago when they were awarded the lease, the cinema was in a state of dilapidation. Matić insisted that under the concession agreement, they were supposed to invest two million kuna, and they had invested five million kuna to date.

On Saturday afternoon, the city authorities said that the renovation of the premises was necessary and refuted allegations that there were plans to repurpose the building, located in Zagreb's Cvjetni Square.

Matić said that he would hold a news conference on Tuesday to inform the public about the the details of the investments the current management had made so far.

Croatia’s Minister of Culture, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, on Saturday morning also raised her voice against the closure of Europa Cinema. She called on the two sides to show their good will and reach agreement on the future functioning of the cinema.

The City of Zagreb said in a statement on Saturday that the current management’s lease expires on 1 June and the premise would remain a cinema after renovations are complete.

Mayor Bandić accused the current tenants of exerting pressure on the city, adding that he expected a public apology over untrue claim that the cinema would be converted into a night club.

Europa Cinema, which turns 94 years old this month has been extremely successful over the last ten years, holding over 14,000 projections with over one million visitors. In 2016, Cinema Europa won the European Best Cinema Award. The cinema is a protected cultural heritage and national treasure of Croatia.

Europa Cinema said a second protest would be held on Tuesday, 9 April at 5:30 pm outside the cinema.

Zagreb Film Festival director Boris T. Matić said on Sunday, responding to a statement from the City of Zagreb, that he never said the city planned to convert the Europa cinema into a nightclub and that he had heard this from hospitality circles, and once again apologised to the Jewish Film Festival for his "hasty act."

"I never said the City of Zagreb planned to open a nightclub, but that I heard from hospitality circles that they want to convert the cinema into such a venue," Matić said in a press release, adding that in his statements to the press he had voiced his doubts about that.

"I doubt that and believe it's some malicious imputation both against us and the city structures, but it troubles us that we still haven't received a concrete answer about the future of the cinema... I heard this story from hospitality circles two years ago. I think it's an imputation against us and the City of Zagreb because the cinema is protected cultural heritage," Matić said.

He once again apologised to the Jewish Film Festival, which had to be relocated from the Europa cinema to the Student Centre on the eve of its opening.

Speaking to the press before the opening of the festival, Mayor Bandić slammed "those disparaging city institutions and the mayor," saying they were "shamelessly using spins to realise personal interests, but they won't succeed."

Asked about the importance of the festival for Zagreb, he was it was "inestimable" because it made the city a multicultural, multi-ethnic and multi-confessional European capital.

More Zagreb news can be found in the Lifestyle section.