See You at the Cinema?!

The role of arthouse cinemas and film festivals in the age of online platforms.

The main objective of the project is to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Romania and Norway, creating a bridge through film and proposing a mutual immersion in both cultures. Beyond curiosity and a need to know more about Norwegian films, we are directly interested in pragmatic aspects such as those related to the management and administration of venues and events dedicated to films. How did cinemas evolve in Norway, what is their role in the film industry, are there any good practices for independent or arthouse cinemas and how do they work, to what extent is the audience present in cinemas and at film festivals, what film education programs/ film education do they implement and what practices can we transfer to the Romanian local cultural scene? These are some of the questions we hope answer with this project while also creating a strong connection with the film industry in Norway, by collaborating with one of the most important film festivals in Norway – the Bergen International Film Festival, partner in this project, and, subsequently by creating new networks of connections with various relevant actors in the field – representatives of cinemas, producers, distributors, directors, actors.


The project idea started from a simple question: will the use of more and more streaming services slowly, but surely, replace going to the cinema? Records of millions of online movie views per hour are proof of the increased demand for this type of service, and in 2020 the pandemic even seemed to have killed the cinema, as theaters were closed for an unspecified period across the globe, productions were suspended and all new content was introduced directly on streaming platforms. Meanwhile, the global cinema box-office appears to have had a revival, reaching $21.4 billion in 2021, according to Gower Street Analytics, a 78 percent gain compared to 2020. And the numbers are growing.

In Romania, however, the problem of going to the cinema is a more complex one, due to the lack of arthouse cinemas. Film critic Ionuț Mareș, member of the Ceau, Cinema! Film Festival team, stated for Ziarul Metropolis: “the number of screens has increased continuously, due to the multiplication of shopping malls and implicitly multiplex cinemas. But only a few of the many distributed auteur films manage to reach these commercial theaters. And in this context, one of disaster in the art film cinemas network, it is very difficult, for large and small cities alike, to facilitate access to a different kind of cinema – not only the serial productions offered by Hollywood studios – for a somewhat wider audience, not only the few thousand festival spectators.”

But what is the actual situation of cinemas in Timișoara? After 20 years of degradation and abandonment of the city’s 13 public cinemas, after more than 5 years of lobbying by Pelicula Culturală Association, Marele Ecran Association and other local NGOs demanding a public art cinema, the Timișoara City Hall managed to recover 8 cinemas from RADEF (Romanian Direction for Film Distribution and Use). When this project was submitted, at the end of 2021, 5 former cinemas were in various phases of modernization and transformation: 4 to be transformed into cultural centers whose cultural programme would include film screenings, and one to have the role of the city’s arthouse cinema (Studio Cinema). In the absence of an arthouse cinema in the city, film events were held continuously in alternative spaces. Timișoara’s public had on-and-off alternatives to continue watching European, Romanian and independent films on the big screen, thanks to the events organized both by the Pelicula Culturală Association and other NGOs, within individual screenings and different film festivals, forming and developing a core of filmgoers.

In Timișoara, the year 2022 was marked by the reopening of the first renovated public cinema, Victoria Cinema, which had 11,000 spectators during its first 3 months after opening, having organized 185 events, of which 154 were film screenings. These numbers are indicators of the community’s desire to see films in the physical space of a cinema, projected onto a big screen, and not just any films, but films selected primarily from the European and Romanian cinematographic portfolio.

Objectives and activities

In order to develop skills in using film as a learning tool by staff involved in youth education (SO1), we will organize a workshop on education through film, delivered by the Norwegian partner. It will have a target group of 15 people made up of school teachers, representatives of NGOs working in the educational field or addressing vulnerable groups, who could use the film as a means of education. Bergen International Film Festival (BIFF) runs a film education program in collaboration with schools and high schools in Bergen (Norway), with over 100,000 students having been involved during the program’s twenty years.

2023 is not only the year in which Timișoara holds the title of European Capital of Culture. It’s also a special year for Ceau, Cinema! Film Festival, co-founded by Pelicula Culturală Association and Marele Ecran Association: the festival is celebrating 10 years of existence, a period in which it remained focused on the European and Romanian cinema in Timișoara, organizing screenings in packed venues and relevant discussions, inviting important and renowned filmmakers. It is a festival organized together with local, national and international cultural partners such as the French Institute, the German Cultural Center, the Polish Institute, the Czech Center, the Hungarian Cultural Center, the Austrian Cultural Forum, Bergen International Film Festival (Norway) and others. Within this festival, two important project activities will take place: the four discussion panels dedicated to representatives of the film industry and the Focus Norway section.

Following the transfer of skills between the partner organizations in terms of cultural management, especially the management of a film festival (SO2), we will organize four discussion panels with the most important representatives of the film industry in Romania, managers of film festivals, arthouse cinemas and film education program coordinators. Representatives of the Bergen International Film Festival (Norway) will also participate in the panels. This is a practical way of exchanging experience and networking, which will facilitate the development of this field in Timișoara and beyond.

In order to zoom in on the Norwegian film and increase its visibility for the Romanian public, specifically Timisoara’s public, this project, as part of the tenth edition of the Ceau Cinema! Film Festival (2023), will enable a section Focus Norway co-curated with the Norwegian partner. This will include a selection of Norwegian films, a series of special guests from Norway linked to screened films, a masterclass on Norwegian films and cinema, as well as the organization of a Cineconcert in collaboration with the Norwegian partners. The Cineconcert will consist of recreating the soundtrack of a classic Norwegian silent film by a well-known musical collective from Timisoara and presenting it in a live performance.

Last but not least, the project will end with a study visit to Bergen, Norway (October 2023), for an experience exchange regarding Norwegian cultural management, with a focus on cinema and festival management

All project activities contribute to the international promotion of the Ceau, Cinema Film Festival! and Timisoara (SO3).


Pelicula Culturală Association started its activity in 2012 by organizing film screenings in various cultural and architectural spaces in Timisoara, as an alternative to an inexistent cinema dedicated to European films. Pelicula Culturală believes in the cause of European film, implementing during its 10-year activity various cultural and educational projects, the most important of which is the Ceau, Cinema! Film Festival. The festival reached its 10th edition in 2023 and its co-founder and co-organizer is the Marele Ecran Association. Also, since 2015 the Pelicula Culturală Association has lobbied for the establishment of an art cinema in the city, and since 2018 it has been actively involved in the renovation project of the Studio Cinema and its transformation into an arthouse cinema. This initiative is implemented together with the Timișoara City Hall, the Timișoara French Institute, the Marele Ecran Association, the Documentor Association, the Romanian Independent Film Association (TIMISHORT), with the support of Groupama Insurance Company.


The Bergen International Film Festival (BIFF) is Norway’s largest film festival, already having organized 23 editions. BIFF presents an excellent mix of feature fiction and new documentaries from around the world. The program of film screenings is complemented by activities of education through film, carried out during the festival for primary, secondary and high school students, with over 100,000 students participating in the twenty years of the program. Each year there are different themes and BIFF develops educational materials with different academic communities, addressing topics such as climate and environmental issues, urban planning, food, media and migration, and inviting various people relevant to the chosen theme to talk to the students according to the projections.

The project <See You at the Cinema?! – The role of art cinemas and film festivals in the age of online platforms> benefits from a €59832 grant from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants.



The EEA and Norway Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway towards a green, competitive and inclusive Europe. There are two overall objectives: reduction of economic and social disparities in Europe, and to strengthen bilateral relations between the donor countries and 15 EU countries in Central and Southern Europe and the Baltics. The three donor countries cooperate closely with the EU through the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA). The donors have provided €3.3 billion through consecutive grant schemes between 1994 and 2014. For the period 2014-2021, the EEA and Norway Grants amount to €2.8 billion. More details are available on: și