Star and Shadow join the Kino Climates Meeting in Brussels A Meeting of the Alternative Cinema Network across Europe, hosted by Nova Cinema

It was with great excitement that Dawn, Arto and myself boarded the overnight ferry in North Shields. Not only did we have a cabin with a sea view, but we were heading to Brussels to catch up with our family of DIY cinéphiles and fill our minds with film and collaboration. What a treat. Especially for us from the Star and Shadow who have spent the last three years more concerned with mortgages, building work and fundraising than we would have chosen.

We were to meet Christo, the forth of the Star and Shadow delegates, in Brussels. Perhaps wisely, Christo had made alternative travel arrangements and had chosen the quicker aeroplane option... We disembark in Amsterdam early the following morning and head for a train to cross town, where we then pick up a bus to Brussels, finally arriving at Nova Cinema just in time for a quick beer and some dinner before the start of the evening’s entertainment. After 28 hours of travelling that beer tasted good, and all the more so for being enjoyed in the comforting surrounds of the Nova basement bar.

This first night some Pip Chodorov was screened, followed by an open (celluloid) screen, complete with a live feed from the projection booth for all to see the projectionists juggling with a variety of equipment. It was frenetic and fun and full of unexpected delights. Lots of the people attending the weekend meeting had bought things to share in what is becoming somewhat of a tradition when the network gets together. We finally arrived at our hostel sometime after 1am and collapsed straight into bed.

You can see the full public screening programme for the weekend by visiting Nova’s website

This weekend was intense. Both days we met from 9am until 6pm, then had to race across town, enjoy a plate of food in the bar, and be ready for screenings at 7pm. There were around 50 of us, representing organisations from across Europe. There were new members of the network for us to meet, as well as various film labs and distributors who had also been invited.

Saturday

We heard from the film lab network Labos (www.filmlabs.org) and were given insight into two recent and ongoing projects: RE MI, (www.re-mi.eu/) a two-year project run by Mire (Nantes, France), Worm (Rotterdam, Netherlands) and LaborBerlin (Germany) which focused on the creation, preservation and circulation of technical knowledge of analogue film in order to support its use as a creative medium; and Film Projection 21, (www.filmprojection21.org/) an initiative to unite those who care about photochemical film projection.

The afternoon focused on the circulation of films within the network. Many Kino Climates cinemas in mainland Europe have made a success of sharing film prints and working together on collaborative programming. This practice has made celluloid projection more financially viable; keeping traffic costs low, and has of course lead to greater relationships between the collaborating organisations.

Later we heard from ED Distribution, a distributor of independent films based in Saint-Antonie, Paris. We discussed how to develop better ways for independent distributors to communicate with the Kino Climates Network in ways that would both support our programming and help the distributors make their collections more accessible. At the end of the discussion we decided on a few approaches to trail over the next few months.

The evening screenings were a joy. We watched a selection of 35mm and 16mm shorts, brought to us by Andrei Florin from Muzeul Cineastului Amator in Reșița, Romania. This was followed by two shorts from the duo Ojoboca which included The Masked Monkeys – if you get a chance to see this, do so. Then Sholto Dobie from Horse Hospital, London gave an experimental music and projection performance. The night was finished off with a compilation of Scopitones. Phew.

Sunday

Sunday’s discussions began with a focus on planning for our next get together. Schemes are afoot to meet up in Belgrade in the summer of 2018. Milan Milosavljević from Academic Film Center Belgrade is leading on this, and a group formed to support him with these plans.

Our second session of the day considered a common project for Kino Climates and FilmLabs networks. We discussed the potential of a project working to preserve 16mm and 35mm projection. Again, a group formed to research these possibilities further. Then Christo Wallers from Star and Shadow, Newcastle, gave a brief presentation of his PhD research he is currently undertaking which considers DIY cinema in the UK.

The day was finished off with a sneak peak at a new website for Kino Climates. This was pretty exciting stuff. I think we have talked about replacing the current website since 2012, and in 2014 Arto & myself promised to take this on, and then promptly became consumed with the Star and Shadow’s move. We expect the new website to go live some time early 2018.

The evening was again another appropriate treat. We watched Philipp Hartmann’s 66 Kino’s, a tour of 66 cinema’s across Germany, then Daniel Maszkowicz (from Spoutnik Cinema, Geneva) and Emma Souharce who work together under the name Biblioteq Mdulair, provided an immersive performance in the Nova bar that created a sensory electro-prmiative atmosphere. And last, but by no means least, B-Movie screened Lust & Sound in West-Berlin 1979-1989. The night was finished off with conversations in the bar that lead into the early hours.

Homeward Bound

And so it was that Monday came and it was time to depart. Arto was off on further travels, beginning with a visit to Filmclub 813 in Cologne – this is the network in action! Dawn and myself had a hellish journey ahead of us, rerouting ourselves back the way we had come, but this time in a snowstorm that disrupted much of the travel, but on Tuesday morning we were lucky to witness a beautiful sunrise over the North Sea as we arrived back home.

This was a weekend jam packed with activity. We really made the most of our time together. And yet it felt too short. I can’t wait for us to be together again. Next time in warmer weather and a location that I have yet to explore. Here’s to Belgrade!