The ongoing social distancing and stay-at-home orders that have been put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus, have led many people around the world to seek alternative ways of entertainment.
One of our favourite activities, that has been halted because of the pandemic, is going to the cinema. Of course, this has driven many movie lovers to join film and series streaming services and to watch their favourite stories at home.
What is still missing though is the human touch, human connection, and human interaction that we used to feel whenever we would go to a crowded theatre.
Cinebur, in an attempt to save the extraordinary world of cinema and maintain the proper safety measures for viewers, has found a way to keep the thrilling feeling of a cinema room alive, for smaller audiences, at outdoor locations, where people can continue practicing social distancing.
Cinebur is a platform that was created in the UK by Greek-Egyptian Doddi El-gabry (Ντόντι Ελ-Γκάμπρι) and Cypriots Vasilia Kouppanou (Βασιλεία Κουππάνου) and Adrian Coutsoftides (Ανδριανός Κουτσοφτίδης), and its goal is to offer people unique and memorable cinema experiences.
Cinebur is an application like Airbnb, except instead of travellers looking for a place to stay, it is for moviegoers who are looking for film screenings. Unlike movie theatres, Cinebur does not have a specific physical location where events are hosted, but its screenings take place in all kinds of venues, from boutiques and hotels, to wineries, schools, art studios, and even local properties of people who want to host screenings for their communities.
Depending on the venue, Cinebur offers its viewers cocktails, fine wine, ice-cream or even nargile smoking if the hosts allow it, which give the audience a comfortable, luxurious, homely feeling, but within a social environment where they can share their emotions with the other people, just like in movie theatres.
Cinebur mostly targets indie films that would normally not be screened in the regular cinemas or have not been discovered by local audiences. Its movie collection offers viewers a variety of films, which can accommodate for a wide range of audiences, so that everyone can find something that they like. Every month, the Cinebur team provides audiences with a selection of films of international works by independent filmmakers, such as the rising Greek director Konstantinos Samaras’s “Magic Skin”, or Mexico’s leading female filmmaker Maria Novaro with her Berlinale-nominated film “Tesoros”.
“The reason we focus on indie films is because nowadays, people get to experience only one kind of movie at the cinemas – and they tend to be big-budget franchise. Those Hollywood movies are fine, we know these films can be fun and exciting, but we should make room for more independent films that add to our culture” Doddi told Greek City Times.
“We think it’s extremely important for people to have access to these films, which normally cannot compete with bigger budgets at the movie theatres. So, we make space for independent films to be received by local audiences in a cinematic setting. At the same time, we also want to encourage even “smaller” filmmakers to submit their short films to Cinebur, like a global film festival. We screen many short films in the beginning of each screening, so smaller filmmakers get more exposure in a live cinema setting, while audiences enjoy a bonus short film before their screening” he added.
The Cinebur team also emphasizes on the importance of encouraging and helping filmmakers.
“The way we collaborate with filmmakers is that with every ticket sold on Cinebur, a portion goes straight to the filmmakers, so you are not only helping a local business when going to a Cinebur event, you are also directly supporting independent artists” Doddi explained.
Another aspect of Cinebur, that has attracted cinema lovers, is the short discussions its founders encourage after the screenings. Because the audiences are relatively small, post-movie chats are a good opportunity for people to discuss the film and socialize, creating that unique cinema experience.
Talking about the public response for Cinebur, Doddi said that “we always knew audiences would want to attend the screenings. Whether it is because cinemas are exclusively for a limited number of viewers, or people just want to get out of the house, we are not surprised that people are attending Cinebur screenings.”
The Cinebur team also prioritizes giving back to the community and helping those in need, by arranging special screenings in Athens. “It is interesting that many more venues are interested in joining Cinebur to host screenings. Just recently, a local charity signed up to work with us and we hosted a non-profit screening and raised over €700 in just two hours. In the past, we have helped local businesses earn over €2,000 in just five screenings. It is amazing how the power of cinema can help support incredible causes.”
Although movie screening events in Athens have been very limited lately because of COVID-19, Cinebur has been collaborating with various hosts and is making preparations for future screenings in Athens, once the landscape becomes more favourable, as the company’s biggest concern is the safety and happiness of the audience. Doddi expressed his concerns that “the coronavirus doesn’t disappear just because the government relaxes its policies. People should act responsibly, whether they are enforced regulations or not. Cinebur is doing its part by ensuring that every host follows the regulations concerning their venue capacity and seat spacing. Also, Cinebur is mostly selecting venues with outdoor space to increase safety while offering open-air cinema screenings.”
Cinebur however, has been taking all the required measures to keep movie screenings as safe and as normal as possible. “We make sure to also inform and remind our customers who have purchased tickets, about hygiene and social distancing measures, so they can do their due diligence before and during the event. Of course, Cinebur is a tech a company, and we are trying our best to execute all ticket purchases online. This not only ensures we repay filmmakers from every ticket sold, but it also prevents physical transactions of money, making it safer for people to attend screenings just with their digital tickets.”
Cinebur is also planning on bringing more events to Greece in the near future, starting with Athens, but it also has ambitions to expand globally, by taking part in university talks and international film festivals.
The goal of the Cinebur team is to remind people that cinema is for everyone. “You don’t have to be a serious cinephile to enjoy a great night at the movies. We offer a variety of different experiences that can suit many audiences, from young people looking for a great cinema night out, to families enjoying a movie together in a unique environment. Our main goal is to continue making cinema more accessible, affordable and communal”
Watch a Message for Greece & Cyprus by Cinebur’s Director:
Join the Cinebur app: https://cinebur.app/
READ MORE ABOUT GREEK CINEMA ON GREEK CITY TIMES: