Back in February of 2020, when the coronavirus seemed to be an issue only affecting China, we were actively wary of the spreading virus becoming the only news Celluloid Junkie covered. After all, we had other matters to write about, like the upcoming CinemaCon. Of course, by March, COVID-19 had shuttered a majority of the world’s movie theatres and caused CinemaCon to be canceled. For a brief period, CJ became all-corona, all the time.
Now we find ourselves in a similar situation, reluctant to dedicate this space for the third week in a row to the ongoing war in Ukraine. Yet, like the rest of the world, we are sadly left with little choice but to focus on the humanitarian disaster unfolding in Ukraine, though through a cinematic lens, as always. Compared to the atrocities of war, the commerce of motion picture exhibition seem trivial.
In fact, you may be wondering how our industry of entertainment and leisure could provide any kind of meaningful direct support to Ukraine. Sure, Hollywood studios can stop distributing films to Russia or cinema operators in neighboring countries like Helios in Poland could offer children’s films dubbed in Ukrainian for fleeing refugees. The good news is both actions have been taken. Just as welcome is the benefit screenings of “The Guide” taking place throughout the United States over the next week. Box office proceeds from Oles Sanin’s 2014 Ukrainian movie will go directly to a relief fund as detailed below.
And in maybe the most passionate act of defiance any Ukrainian cinema operator could ever demonstrate, on Tuesday 15 March Natalia Baydan, the CEO of Planeta Kino in Ukraine, began reopening her cinema in Lviv’s Forum Mall in the western part of the country. Operations are limited and ticket prices have been lowered. Still, one has to wonder how anyone thought a war could be won against the Ukrainian people when the threat of having bombs dropped on them indiscriminately doesn’t stop them from heading to a movie theatre.
This goes to show how cinemas and movies can play a part, however small, in helping overcome some of the world’s greater problems. At the very least it shows how, while the world may be small, the cinema industry is smaller, tends to stick together and is always looking to embrace new participants. That’s why we were so pleased to hear during this week’s CJ Cinema Summit that the GM Group, together with the National Film Authority of Ghana, will be expanding on the annual META Cinema Forum with Africa’s first ever industry event dedicated to the development of its cinema infrastructure; the META Africa Cinema Forum, is scheduled to take place on 21st and 22nd November 2022 in Accra, Ghana.
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Celluloid Junkie is the leading online resource dedicated to the global film and cinema business. The Marquee is our newsletter focused on motion picture exhibition; keeping industry professionals informed of important news, the latest trends and insightful analysis