Published on 7/1/2021
by Vasil Nikolov

The Experience of Hristo Hristozov in the 17th edition of the program.

The training program “Art Cinema = Action + Management”, organized by CICAE (International Confederation of Art Cinemas), was held for the 17th time within the framework of the Venice Film Festival. An opportunity for young film exhibitors and professionals from all over Europe to exchange experiences and successful practices on how to successfully manage art cinema.

The Bulgarian participant in the event was Hristo Hristozov. We asked him to share a few words about his experience.

Hristo, tell us about your job and your professional background.

-Cinema entered my life accidentally. 11 years ago I used to live on a street close to Cinema House Sofia and started going there often. Gradually it became a part of my life and volunteering for the cinema was a natural next step. A year later I also started working for Sofia International Film Festival as a coordinator for youth projects and at the press office.

And so it continued till 2016 when Oli Gots left as program director of the Cinema House and I took over for the next two years. Focusing on a colorful programme, strong team and audience loyalty I managed to turn the place into a powerful hub for cinema lovers and attracted huge new audiences.

I then quit and spent almost two years a distributor (Touch me not, Burning) and festival organizer (Master of Art Film Festival, Sofia MENAR, Scandinavian film week and Sofia Pride Film Fest). Now, in the beginning of 2021, after an unusual year for all of us I decided to go back and will be serving as Program Director of Cinema House once again.

Why did you attend the course?

-The course was recommended to me by colleagues and I saw in it an opportunity to expand my knowledge about managing a cinema and audience building. Of course, meeting colleagues from all around Europe and being able to attend the Venice Film Festival was also an important motivator.

What did you expect from it? How did the course meet your expectations?

-The course offered two options – Junior and Executives’ session. I was pre-selected for the second one and was expecting a consultative approach including an in-depth look at the current trends as well as recommendations for an unclear future after COVID. Sadly, the latter one led to a different format where the Executives’ session happened only partially. I still found the course very insightful and useful for my current projects and met great colleagues. The organizers also made an extra effort to arrange for me individual meetings with film professionals in some desired fields.

Were you able to make good contacts during the course?

-Our group consisted of experts from all over Europe – both in exhibition and distribution, which created an exciting opportunity for skills and knowledge exchange, as well as for forming friendships. In such a stressed environment for cinema, I believe that our collaboration in the future will be a crucial success factor.

How, in your opinion, were the themes covered in the course, and to
which extent? Were things analysed in a deep way or were they kept at a
more general level?

-The course itself provided a general overview of all aspects of managing an arthouse cinema. Some lecturers provided interesting case studies where all had been put in practice. All of them were eager and open for further discussion. The group work (each on a different project) was a way to apply all the knowledge and get invaluable feedback from the mentors.

What was the best offering of the course, for you?

-All of it, being a structured overview. Paula Astorga’s take on audience division and engagement and Marvin Wiechart’s case studies on digital marketing were particularly insightful to me.

Who do you think the course is suitable for?

-Everyone who is working or wants to develop his skills in arthouse cinema management and/or film exhibition in general.

More about the program can be found at: www.cicae.org

Photos: Manuele Sangalli