From autumn, the Zurich Film Festival will be showing the six “Kosmos” cinemas. This decision contains political explosives.
«Frames». The new name of the cinema complex on Europaallee should be familiar to many. After all, that was the name of a film magazine from the «NZZ am Sonntag». Not surprisingly, the cinemas are also programmed by the same maker: Christian Jungs, director of the Zurich Film Festival ZFF.
This “move”, as ZFF boss Jungs calls the move into the premises of the former Kosmos, is a clever move. But it also raises a number of questions.
Because Swiss film festivals don’t usually run cinemas, they use them. The year-round operation of a cinema causes costs that a film festival can hardly afford as a rule.
In addition, festivals are designed specifically as temporary events in terms of finance, attendance and performance agreements – not as permanent brands in the cinema landscape.
Forever Film Festival
The ZFF is now changing the rules to some extent. Year in, year out, the Frame will offer a film program based on the festival’s guidelines: blockbusters and star vehicles should have their place, but art-house films should also be shown.
That was already the case in the final phase of the Kosmos – but with recourse to the strong network of the ZFF, the Frame will certainly want to receive more celebrities at premieres and pour larger quantities of champagne.
Strategic advantages arise for the Zurich Film Festival, that is obvious: the own brand is significantly strengthened. The ZFF can evaluate the films from its festival program throughout the year as a personal selection.
In addition, the sponsors are happy when their logos in the frame are visible well beyond the eleven festival days. According to the ZFF, the rental conditions are also correct – the premises belong to the SBB.
Are they allowed to?
With this addition to its core business, the already huge ZFF will continue to grow and hire additional staff. It is also in competition with other cinema chains in Zurich.
Strictly speaking, this competition already existed when the cosmos still operated these halls – but in the future the dishes will be served in this place with a different trowel than in the intellectually tinged cultural temple with its notorious financial difficulties.
From a legal point of view, one thing is clear: the ZFF does nothing that is forbidden. If a film festival is capable of operating cinema halls and can afford the extra effort, then it is allowed to do so.
What it is not allowed to do, however, is to put public subsidies that are strictly intended for holding a one-off event into the operation of a continuous business. The tills must be separated and the flow between them controlled.
let politics be politics
One can also be curious about what the Frame wants to offer as an event location in addition to the film program. In the case of Kosmos, for example, it was the “Kosmopolitics” series of talks – public rounds of talks with decidedly left-wing themes. Is the ZFF, which belongs to the NZZ media group, bringing a right-wing liberal wind into the house?
It would probably be more advisable to let politics be politics for the time being and instead to contribute to the fact that the people of Zurich go to the cinema more often and with greater enthusiasm. If that succeeds, then the competition has nothing to fear.
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Radio SRF 2 Kultur, 06/01/2023, Kultur-Aktualitat, 5:20 p.m.
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