'Not Like in the Movies'

Small cinemas give way to multiplex and web viewing

On The Town | Margaret Childs | March 2012

In the 1988 Film Cinema Paradiso, young Salvatore ("Toto") assumes all wisdom must come from a hero of the silver screen. "Living here day by day, you think it’s the centre of the world," confesses the projectionist Alfredo. "You believe nothing will ever change." Which film is Alfredo quoting?

"No, Toto. Nobody said it. This time it’s all me," Alfredo says. "Life isn’t like in the movies. Life... is much harder."

Today, life is harder for Vienna’s independent and privately owned cinemas. After the Actor’s studio and the Artis were taken over by Cineplexx, the Kepler Kino and the Auge Gottes closed in 2011, and the Gloriette Kino has now joined them. It seems the only time when old-school small cinemas are a hot spot is during the Viennale; and while several have achieved cult status – the Filmcasino, the Topkino, the Votiv or the much bigger Gartenbaukino and Urania – not all can live off the few weeks of Viennale attention.

When Toto and Alfredo bemoaned the loss of cinema magic in 1988, there were 59 movie theatres in Vienna. Now there are 36. While there are fewer cinemas, there are more screens, according to Statistik Austria. So clearly the multiplex cinemas are on the rise.

But Vienna wants to do better: In 2007 the Federal Ministry for Education, the Arts and Culture, fearing a loss in the diversity of film screenings, began a cinema initiative, and has been spending between €400,000 and €700,000 annually to support smaller and specialty cinemas.

Vienna’s English speaking community, and lovers of un-dubbed movies: These are also our cinemas! If we want to preserve the chance to go to our neighbourhood Kinos, we have to keep the small cinemas that show OV (original version) films alive.

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