On the 21st of November, a group of students, film and cultural workers, occupied the Zvezda Cinema. The occupation has been active for almost a year so far. The event has been reported by the majority of local media, as well as world media, and has been embraced by the public opinion NY Times
The vital act of the occupation of Zvezda Cinema has started a humble revolution of independent cinema in Serbia. The lack of cinemas that aren't purely profit driven caused a lack of diversity in Belgrade's cultural and film environment. The audience was seriously deprived by this absence of meaningful content. They may not be aware of what caused this, but they are starving for fresh, new and different cinematic and cultural perspectives.
As the saying goes - "Where there's a will, there's a way". We are looking forward to create a cultural center inside of the Zvezda Cinema, a center for the already ripe intellectuals and the upcoming youth that have so much to give. We do not want to blame anyone or anything, or stay forever without taking matters into our own hands and doing the best we can. We want to shine a light on the current situation. November 21st marks the beginning of a very bright future and the New Zvezda Cinema has a shimmery, wonderful artistic one!
We hope to bring the building to its full function and more. Slowly but steadily, we want to create a base that will support the bright future of the art of cinema in Serbia and this part of Europe.
Please, support this project. You can be a part of a positive approach to culture. Press: Balkan Insight AltCine NY Times
Up until 2004, Belgrade had 19 active cinemas with an annual visit of 4.200.00 people. The company "Beograd Film" and its network of 14 cinemas in the city had a 78% of the overall visits. In 2007 "Beograd Film" was privatized under suspicious circumstances for the mere sum of 9.2 million EUR. Previous to that, its market value was estimated to 60 million EUR. Despite being bound by law to maintain the cinema's main activity for the next two years, the new owner sold five of the cinema venues to a supermarket chain for 19.7 million EUR the next year.
By doing this, the government, the privatization agency and the new owner had damaged the cultural infrastructure of Serbia. Irreparable damage has been done to Serbian filmmaking through the process of privatization of “Beograd Film”. This also carries harmful consequences for the economy and culture of the city and the country. For the first time ever in its 80-year-long tradition, the survival of Serbian cinema was endangered. Without culture, the identity of a country ceases to exist.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
Why fund it?
The building of Zvezda Cinema is in need of repairs to resume its essential function and develop into an authentic cultural center. The building of Zvezda Cinema, one of the oldest European cinemas, has been abandoned and destroyed. On the 21st of November 2014, a group of filmmakers and cultural workers entered this legendary cinema and began screening films for free for the citizens of Belgrade.
The building is in need of completely new electrical installations and new water supply pipes. The roof needs repairing and the heating system needs to be enabled. This is essential in order to resume the original function of Zvezda Cinema. We are looking forward to open a new chapter in the artistic expression of young Serbia. We would like to expand the potential of cinemas as a mediator between creation and audience, by developing them into authentic cultural centers that provide essential cultural information and a profound experience for the ever-inspired individuals.
Zvezda Cinema is a historical monument and by that is under the protection of The Council of Conservation of Monuments. It was the atelier of the early Serbian photographer Milan Jovanovic. The building was erected in 1890 and in 1911 it became the "Koloseum Cinema". Upon the end of World War II in 1945, and the arrival of socialism, it became a state-owned cinema and its name was changed to “Zvezda” (Star).
What will the money be spent on?
The funding collected from the campaign will be invested in the essential construction work that needs to be done so that the New Zvezda Cinema can function without major obstacles. Several rooftop elements still need to be replaced in order to stop all water leaks. The heating and air vent systems need to be cleaned and revitalized. New electrical installations are required, among with major plumbing work regarding the water-supply system. Those are our priorities.
If we are able to collect funds that enable us to successfully do all the reparations the building needs, we will invest the remaining money in fixing doors and windows, and/or buying new equipment for the cinema. Money from campaign are not enough to solve all this problems, but our philosophy has always been to take a little while to work a lot. This money will be used only as a start up capital for something much more biger.
In past few months this cinema has hosted many artist, activists and public figures: Alain Badiou, Ellen Kuras and even Alexis Tsipras before his election as Greece prime minister. Michel Gondry was one of foreign supporters, who even made a short animation about it: Michel Gondry Zvezda Animation .