Arthouse Club
PAN-UKRAINIAN CINEMA CLUB NETWORK
Arthouse Traffic is a Ukrainian film production and distribution company, specializing in art film and working together with foreign embassies and cultural centres to manage annual film events throughout Ukraine including "New British Film" festival, "Evenings of French Film" and "New German Film" festival among others. In the fall of 2016, Arthouse Traffic led the formation of platform supporting local cinema clubs – Arthouse Club – by making its film catalogue available at no cost for non-commercial screenings throughout the country. Programme director of Athouse Traffic Ilja Djadik talks about national cooperation project, implemented jointly with the public organization "Kinoklub "Voshojdenie".
We've been able to bring together around 200 new film clubs.
The nationwide Ukrainian network of film club screenings - Arthouse Club – is a project tasked with developing the film club movement in Ukraine and promote the cinematic arts. Our team at Arthouse Traffic has developed the interactive website kinoklub.org.ua that was launched in October 2018 and is now accessed by users throughout the country. They can organise screenings in their location: to access to the film data base, to create a festival programme or choose from another, existing festival; to download promotional materials and talk about and promote local events on the site and via social networks.

We began to develop the idea of bringing film clubs together into an established network in 2016. With the Culture Bridges grant we were able to update the website and start promoting the development of the film club movement in Ukraine. We've been able to bring together around 200 new film clubs - some that were already in existence and others whose formation was prompted by the launch of the platform.
One priority was expanding the film catalogue.
The project's core assignment was the creation of a web-portal that would facilitate access to free legal content for film clubs located anywhere in Ukraine. It was important to organize a service that allowed archiving a large amount of material and could generate downloadable links. One priority was expanding the film catalogue, which included establishing partnerships with rights holders, translation of dialogues and audio-track mastering.

In establishing the project our programme department worked with Ukrainian rights' holders, the Dovzhenko National Centre, the Austrian and Swiss Embassies, the British Council in Ukraine and the EU Delegation to secure rights for more than 200 films for a period of between two and three years. We also negotiated with the Ukrainian State Film Agency and Ukrainian producers on the granting of rights for the Ukrainian Film Festival and the Children's Ukrainian Film Festival, which would take place during the spring and September 2019, respectively. Altogether, the catalogue totals 242 films (including 70 from the Arthouse Traffic archive); prior to the creation of the web platform, we never had more than 100 available – a number that was determined by the films playing at festivals and the predominance of films where we had short-term rights.
We expose viewers to arthouse films in cities where there are no cinemas and thus prepare them for the time when the film industry is fully developed.
The Ukrainian domestic film market is underdeveloped, in other words, there are simply not enough cinemas. 45 million people and only roughly 500 cinemas. Poland, for instance, has a population of 38 million and there are already more than 1,000 cinemas. It's especially true in small towns and villages, where people have generally abandoned high-quality European independent cinema because there's simply nowhere to watch a film. In most cities there were already film clubs working, and in others, a lot of the groundwork to establish one had been laid. By launching the platform, we gave the development of the film club movement the push it needed and were able to introduce arthouse cinema to a wider audience.

The biggest obstacle facing any film club is working with illegal content – something that complicated their ability to advertise. They couldn't afford to openly, fully promote screenings out of fear of claims by the rights holders. We clear the rights for them and provide copies with high-quality translations. We expose viewers to arthouse films in cities where there are no cinemas and thus prepare them for the time when the film industry is fully developed.
The cinema club is not just a place to watch movies, it's a communication platform and an opportunity for education and intellectual development.
We created a designated film club Facebook page and engendered a forum for professional communication among film devotees and activists. They started a film club movement, and gave it a more developed, professional direction. Film club reps can now communicate, discuss ideas and problems with their locations, challenges in communication, etc.

From our side, cooperating with film clubs also has its advantages. We're in Kyiv and it can be difficult to communicate with a remote audience. Film clubs are usually run by activists who are highly enthusiastic and who do all the organisation of screenings and discussions. This is important for films aimed at a niche audience – that viewers have the opportunity to share their thoughts and impressions of a film. The cinema club is not just a place to watch movies, it's a type of communication platform and, accordingly, an opportunity for education and intellectual development.
We've made it possible for local film clubs to work on a regular basis.
Most film clubs don't have reliable funding and organise events with volunteers, and screenings are irregular – maybe once or a few times a year and often as part of a festival. They are always on the lookout for free venues where they can hold non-commercial screenings, which they usually have to barter for. There is also insufficient funding to bring Ukrainian film production crews to these outlying regions so they can talk to the audience about a film.

We've made it possible for local film clubs to work on a regular basis. Prior to this project, they would come and go because of unreliable availability of content. With the rights to most of our film catalogue valid for three years we're able to constantly replenish our stock and the clubs benefit from the chance for long-term cooperation with us.
In future, we plan to expand our catalogue and to collaborate with schools and youth cultural groups to help them get a grasp on new media.
The biggest problem both for film clubs and for our platform is content. To build up our catalogue we're always negotiating with the right holders, in particular with European producers, because European film clubs have been operating very successfully. For example, in Poland there is an organisation similar to ours that has secured the rights to 1000 features of family-oriented content, showing them in schools and universities. They work with younger audiences, getting them to come to films and thus helping them shape their taste in film and their understanding of cinema.

In future, we plan to expand our catalogue and to collaborate with schools and youth cultural groups to help them get a grasp on new media and learn how cinema works, something that's very important in this information age. This is our baseline. Longer range we'll be working to develop broad competency in producing independent film. Having a handle on the rules of cinema is important today, where kids spend a lot of time on YouTube but don't have much idea about how to create content. They're easily influenced and it can be tough for them to distinguish the fake content they encounter from dependable information. With some basic knowledge about how images can be assembled they'll learn how to distinguish whether someone is trying to inform them or fool them.
Photo credits: Arthouse Traffic
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