Il Kino (Roma)

Created by a community of Cinema professionals, Il Kino is an independent movie theater located in the Italian capital with a bar and a co-working space at disposal.

In 2010, in the working-class area Pigneto in Rome, the former cinema Grauco shuts its doors after four decades of welcoming film-lovers of the Italian capital. But a young producer, Cristiano Gerbino, sets his mind on preserving the place and little by little gathers about fifty associates, all cinema professionals, around his crazy idea. Crazy because at that time in Italy, means are getting scarce: “There was no more money to finance the cultural activities related to cinema so we figured out that if the state could not help us, we had to act for ourselves” sums up Massimo Galimberti, one of the first associates of the place. The group of enthusiasts then creates the association “Quichotte” and each brings a first capital of 600€ and then of 300€. Turning themselves into builders, carpenters, plumbers and electricians, they restore the screening room themselves and decide to add a bar to it: “Those coming to watch a movie can have a drink, those coming to have a drink can watch a movie.” On January 28th 2011, they celebrate the official opening of the theater, now called Il Kino. Since then, every semester, these parties, which are used to finance the activities of the place, have become major events mixing screenings and music.

There was no more money to finance the cultural activities related to cinema so we figured out that if the state could not help us, we had to act for ourselves.

We enter into this artists’ and film-lovers’ lair by the bar, turned into a co-working space during the day. A film crew is busy preparing for a shoot. Actors are rehearsing in a corner; the producer comes and goes to make phone calls. It’s a mean to use the place outside the screenings and to stimulate encounters, building a network. It’s also a mean to diversify its sources of income by completing the ones from the bar, therefore reaching a financial balance that the 36 seats in the small screening room could not guarantee.

The 54 associates are volunteers and work regularly for this cinema at the register, the ticket control or even at the screening. The choice of the movies and all the other decisions regarding the cinema are made via committees where each one can suggest what they’d like to screen. The associates share the responsibilities between the programming, the communication, the organization and the management of the bar. A direction committee, made of 7 persons, allows decisions to be taken quicker. The first year the cinema was active, the choice of the movies was only about screening contemporary movies. They have since then decided to screen punctually heritage films –on Sundays or during festivals (like during the Rome Festival)– and have made in those cases small retrospectives. The public can also punctually organize screenings in the theater “It’s important to know that there is a place for you, for the organization of a screening or for co-working” adds Massimo.

This special relationship between the public and Il Kino is at the heart of the theater. The member of the audience is considered as so much more: “He is like a player, one of us.” A desire of inclusion that also tries to stray from the usual separation between the public and the artists “The problem is the distance between the world of cinema and the audience. To us, it is very important to make every speech and relationships lively, including the ones with very famous directors” explains Massimo.

Little by little, Il Kino has become a meeting point for independent cinema in Rome and sees itself as a mixing place, where screenwriters can meet directors, directors meet actors. Paolo Sorrentino and his producer Paolo Juliano, Gabrialo Salvadore, Paul Haggis or even Mathieu Amalric are regular visitors. “It has become a place to meet for a whole generation of Italian filmmakers.”

A distribution activity was born at the theater in 2014 to fill the absence of diffusion of numerous movies in Italy. The three first titles of their catalog are The Future by Miranda July, Clip by Maja Milos and Soul of America by Poull Brien, the story of Charles Bradley.

Not content with shining over Italy as a successful example of a place keeping the independent cinema going, Il Kino has planted a seed and inspired many groups of enthusiasts. In Berlin, another Il Kino was born under the direction of a former associate with the same name and the same philosophy: a small screening room, a bar, mixing public and artists united in the passion of cinema.

Translation by Garance Boulet ♥