Digital films, and an army of volunteers at the new Cinema Incontro
More than fifty people work in the parish-owned community hall. “We can now compete even with multiplex cinemas.” Next Saturday, the inauguration of the digital system, in the presence of Bishop Franco Agnesi.
“Cinema Incontro”, in Besnate, which is more than 80 years old, has never stopped showing films, and next Saturday, the new life of the “community hall” will begin, thanks to a large investment which is bringing the cinema into the era of digital projection. At 8 pm, on 15 February, there will also be the Episcopal Vicar of Varese, Monsignor Franco Agnesi, followed by the showing of “Belle and Sebastien”, at a reduced price.
“Either we adapted, or we died,” said Don Remo Ciapparella, the priest of Besnate and Jerago. “This is a genuine community hall, and it manages to survive only thanks to the help of the volunteers. The communities of Besnate and Jerago decided together to invest in this digital innovation, and all of the money necessary was raised.”
However, there was not only the economic contribution to purchase the digital equipment, almost €60,000, but also a lot of good will. Last summer, the volunteers painted the entrance of the cinema, re-laid the floor in the hall and structurally organised the arrival of digital films.
“There are about fifty volunteers,” said 21-year-old student, Riccardo Checchin, who, together with 24-year-old Samuele Bistoletti, managed the preparation and installation of the digital system. “We take turns to get the cinema working, and to do the cleaning. We have a great deal of affection for this place, and the relaunch on Saturday will enable us to compete, thanks to digital projection, even with multiplex cinemas. How? With greater attention to the viewer; we’ll accompany him almost to his seat. But also with direct communication on the social networks, like Facebook, where we have more than 800 ‘likes’, and are continuing to grow.”
At Cinema Incontro, rolling up their sleeves was not the only thing the volunteers did. Samuele, for instance, who studies engineering, came up with a particular way to organise the whole infrastructure of the projection, “making it faster to transfer the data, without any danger of sudden interruptions. We’ve set up a room where, by putting a number of machines together, we can guarantee perfect 2K vision, a quality that has twice the yield of normal Full HD. Moreover, once the film has been uploaded onto the server, we can start the projection from any mobile phone or tablet.” Samuele proudly showed us this function, starting the trailers of the next films scheduled.
The community hall can hold 274 people, in new seats that came from another recent renovation. However, the cinema is also becoming part of a local circuit of shows, concerts, and events for the council and for schools. “The soul remains the cinema,” Don Remo explained, “but we want this hall to be used by the whole community, or we won’t make it. The success that we have at the moment is due especially to our volunteers.”
“We may have lost a bit of magic,” said the projectionist, Gianni Pertile. “As a keen photographer, I think that film had its reason to exist, it was more consistent, less modifiable. But for the cinema, the yield of this technology is practically perfect, and we no long run the risk of receiving the worst, most damaged copies of films at our suburban cinema.”