The cinemas are closed and there is no more production. What does the corona shutdown mean for the film industry? “The crisis will have a lot of losers”, suspects festival director and cinema pioneer Lars Henrik Gass.
“Film and art after the cinema” was the title of a book that Lars Henrik Gass , head of the renowned Oberhausen International Short Film Festival, published eight years ago. In it took Gass, since 1997 director of the festival in the Ruhr area and also one of the brightest thinkers in the field of cinema profession in this country, thoughts about the place cinema and the future of film in general. That was long before Corona.
Now in some places the death bells are ringing for the cinema as an institution. Can the cinema as a cultural venue even recover after weeks or even months of film theater closings? A few pessimists are already assuming that the industry will no longer get back on its feet – at least not in its old form. German cinemas alone are currently losing around 17 million euros in revenue every week. Some suspect that in the future film lovers will increasingly or even exclusively rely on the services of the streaming giants.
Hollywood is most likely to be trusted to weather the crisis
If you look at Hollywood, which is still the world’s most profitable production location, the full magnitude of the cinema crisis becomes clear: “Overnight we went from an industry with an annual turnover of 15 billion dollars to an industry that for three to four months had none Penny will earn more, “said John Fithian, managing director of the North American Cinema Association, recently to the US trade journal” Variety “. Nevertheless, Hollywood is most likely to be able to pull its head out of the corona noose.
Full movie theaters: will that still be there in the near future?
“Film and art after the cinema” – what sounded badly pessimistic in 2012 could now become reality faster than some cultural pessimists suspected. “The crisis will have a lot of losers,” says Lars Henrik Gass with conviction: “The cinemas are part of it because politicians have failed to give them a really sustainable perspective, be it as a museum or as a sender of online Offered. “
Can the cinema as a cultural site survive in the long run?
Will the many small and medium-sized cinemas in Germany now become the big losers of the Corona crisis? “I think that this crisis will further accelerate the decline of commercial cinema,” speculates Gass and calls for an open discussion about the cinema as a cultural location: “It is now all the more important to clarify what cinema is worth to us as a cultural practice and how we can become one as soon as possible In other words, we have to insist on places that do justice to the art of film and the special features of cinema in terms of media history, and that without lazy compromises with economic considerations. “
Will smaller cinemas with a sophisticated film program become the losers of the crisis?
In contrast to theaters and operas, art museums, libraries and concert halls, cinemas are first and foremost economically run businesses. High subsidies and cultural grants are not common in the cinema industry – at most once in the form of a kind of “recognition bonus” for demanding programs in the context of award ceremonies. The smaller cinemas in Germany (but also worldwide) have “the bad luck”, if you want to call it that, to compete with Hollywood and the multiplex cinemas
Cinema stands in the field of tension between art and commerce
In the case of cinema, unlike in comparable cultural sectors, the gap between art and commerce is very clear. The corona crisis could bring this to light radically. So do Arthaus cinemas only have a chance of survival in the near future if they join the ranks of subsidized cultural establishments? A conceivable scenario for Gass: “Film culture will only survive in a museum, but the museum can be a cinema or an online offering.”
Multiplex cinemas are most likely to see land again after the Corona crisis: Cinestar / Cubix in Berlin
So in the future we will have, on the one hand, the large multiplexes that reel off their “Star Wars” and “Avengers” programs – and on the other hand, a heavily subsidized cinema and film industry with a museum character that focuses on art , Experiment and upscale entertainment sets? “This is what it will probably come down to roughly, although there are a lot of intermediate forms and alternatives conceivable,” says Lars Henrik Gass.
Gass calls for the various cinema institutions to work together
Gass relies on the urgently needed interplay of various forces: “One thing is certain: it will only be possible if all actors, including universities and festivals, work together with the filmmakers and cinemas to enable new forms of presentation, including online give a perspective for artistic films, we will continue to reach an audience. “
Will many film fans only concentrate on the sofa at home and take advantage of streaming offers?
Gass is also critical of the actions of the state and the federal states in terms of online services. Netflix, Amazon, and recently Disney and Apple are dominating the streaming market: “The development was foreseeable for a long time, the only interesting thing is that so far politics, film funding and television have only acted as cartels of the past and have not recognized that they are anything have to change fundamentally.
“Film culture is being sorted out in order to be able to compete with the economic power of streaming platforms, complains Gass. But that is not the mission of the German broadcasters:” Their mission is basically cultural. For this they receive fees and taxes. “
The Oberhausen Short Film Festival will take place in 2020 in an alternative form
Finally, the question about the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival . The world-famous festival, which was supposed to start on May 13th, like all major cultural events, is canceled this year due to the Corona crisis. At least in a planned form.
Gass and his team have been busy working on alternatives over the past few weeks: “We set up a blog on our website at the beginning of April. The blog makes the process of the crisis as visible as those who are affected by it. Last but not least, the blog provides information by the end of May, the run-up to and framework of the online festival, in which around 350 films will be shown. “
In 2020 the festival will not have pictures like this: Gass and Minister of State Monika Grütters a few years ago in Oberhausen
In this alternative festival edition that has migrated to digital, Gass shows himself to be a cultural man who likes to cross discipline boundaries: “We cooperate with numerous institutions and people. I had many conversations for the blog myself, for example with Herbert Fritsch on the question ‘Can you record theater? ‘ or with Jörg Heiser on the question ‘What’s so bad about Corona art?’ In addition, German filmmakers control contributions to a series entitled ‘Can and must one make films now?’ at. “
Gass calls for more thought about the future of film
Could that also be a festival model for the future after Corona? “We are on the way to a festival that is no longer limited to time and place,” says Gass: “I’ve been thinking about this for a long time. Now, under massive pressure, we have to find plausible solutions as quickly as possible. We are currently discussing the relationship between them what we will continue to show in the cinema in the future and what we may want to show online as an additional or alternative. “