Back in the late summer of 2012, Wrocław completely bucked the trend by turning a commercial multiplex into an art-house cinema and cultural venue. Five years on, it's a pleasure to see the cinema still here – it's a place that simply cannot be taken for granted.
In the years preceding 2012, you simply couldn't foresee anything like Kino Nowe Horyzonty on the horizon. The commercial multiplexes in Poland were raking in profits while a number of artistic cinemas were gradually decaying to the point of no return.
Despite this trend showing no signs of changing course, the team behind Wrocław New Horizon's Film Festival were seemingly not fazed. They took over the city-centre Helios multiplex, which they had already rented before for the festival, and then went about turning the building into something more than just an art-house cinema.
The ridiculously priced popcorn and nachos were ditched, replaced by an affordable cafe serving tasty soups, quesadillas, paninis, salads and cakes. They also made it possible to have a beer or a glass of wine before the film too, something that wasn't commonplace before. While the proper glasses and plates have since been replaced by those of a paper and plastic variety, the cafe still remains a nicer place to be than in your regular multiplex chain cinema.
Kino Nowe Horyzonty also gave the cold-shoulder to the worst of Hollywood's braindead blockbusters, allowing room for more independent, international and art-house cinema. Crucially however, they have never completely shut out all the big hits. Instead the cinema have opted for a mix of some of the better worldwide releases together with art-house pictures.
Although not everyone will agree with what does or doesn't make the cut every weekend, the cinema have generally made the rights calls since they started. By showing the likes of James Bond, Kino Nowe Horyzonty can attract people that otherwise wouldn't come. In turn, the cinema hopefully convinces at least some of them to return for a less mainstream production that they may have seen teased in a trailer.
Another massive change has been the pricing, which is generally much lower than at the likes of Multikino, Cinema City and Helios. With the exception of special promotions (such as Helios' "Cheap Tuesday"), Kino Nowe Horyzonty is generally 3-6zl cheaper than the multiplexes on any given day. You can also see any film on a Monday at Kino Nowe Horyzonty for just 13zł, while the cinema's loyalty card scheme can make things even less expensive.
Kino Nowe Horyzonty's benefits don't end there either. As the title of this article indicates, the place does a lot more than just show movies. The cinema is effectively a public space that can be utlilised by people of all walks of life, something that very much adds to the building's character. Upstairs you may bump into some pensioners keeping their brains active over a game of chess, while in the cafe it is not remotely unusual to see people working on laptops or taking part in team meetings. Others simply find the cinema a nice place to read a book or the daily newspaper, particularly in the colder months.
The space has also been used frequently for countless cultural events, the variety of which is seemingly endless. It could be young designers or artists showcasing their work at a fair or a gallery, a start-up enthusiast's meeting, a board games expo or an arts and crafts workshop. The openness of the people at Kino Nowe Horyzonty has helped to make all this activity commonplace, which has ultimately contributed to the cinema's atmosphere.
As has been obvious from the start of this article, Wrocław Uncut are very much fans of the Kino Nowe Horyzonty project and we recognise the importance of the role it plays. We are by no means not the only ones though. In recent years big figures in cinema have gladly shared their time with Kino Nowe Horyzonty's cinemagoers in exchange for very little; Pierce Brosnan, Wim Wenders and Agnieszka Holland are just a few names that spring to mind.
In spite of all these accolades, it would still unfortunately be fair to say that Kino Nowe Horyzonty is not without its problems. The building is beginning to become a little bit rough around the edges in certain parts, while there aren't nearly enough people at the films as there should be. Perhaps the latter is down to the misconception that they only show art-house films, or maybe people simply can't imagine going to see a movie without munching on some popcorn.
Whatever the reasons are, it would great to see if something can be done to bring more people into Kino Nowe Horyzonty. If it were to dissapear one day, not only would going to the cinema become more expensive, it would also be less enjoyable. The idea of paying over the odds to sit through 30 minutes of relentless adverts to see a film in and around a cacophony of munching and slurping is not one I would like to have to entertain in the future.
It is true that Wrocław has another good cinema in the shape of DCF, however its size restricts a number of possibilties. The location of DCF is also not quite as good as that of Kino Nowe Horyzonty, which is right next to a number of great cafes, bars and restaurants.
In the meantime we are nonetheless fortunate enough that Kino Nowe Horyzonty is still alive and kicking after five years, a fact that should give Wrocław's cultural scene good cause for celebration. Here's hoping the place is around for at least another five years – the city just wouldn't be the same place without it.
Starting on Thursday, Kino Nowe Horyzonty will celebrate its 5th birthday by screening some classic movies chosen by the cinema's staff, as well as their selection of the top 15 movies from the last five years. This includes films such as 'The Matrix', 'Goundhog Day', 'Django', 'Bogowie', 'The Wolf Of Wall Street', 'Grand Budapest Hotel' and 'Big Lebowski'. Some tickets are priced as little as 5zl. Visit the Kino Nowe Horyzonty website for more info.