Petr Hubáček: Let’s save the Cinema Varšava

The Cinema Varšava in Liberec will shortly become the venue of the largest meeting of the Nová síť cultural network. There are twelve existing and eight acceding partners of this informal network of organizations. It is no coincidence that this event will be held in this particular cinema, which has had to face years of tough struggles regarding its future with the competent officers. The group of enthusiasts representing the initiative “Let’s save the Cinema Varšava” has still not given up its struggle despite the fact that they have not been able to provide sufficient resources to reconstruct the cinema so far. However, the recently opened stylish café in the renovated cinema foyer confirms their determination, so we can hope that Varšava will not meet the fate we know from the movie Bio Paradise.

Your intention is to carry out a complete reconstruction of the cinema. And what about other strategy - to repair what is needed mostly and leave the rest of the building in a condition in which it is now?

I guess I understand why you have risen this question. At this point, there are several options on the table as far as the possible reconstruction is concerned. We have realized renovation of Barrandoff (1st floor) from our own funds. The entrance corridor from Mariánská Street was roughly repaired with the help of the Statutory town of Liberec. With such gradual steps, we slowly move forward, but it takes so much time. Another option is the large project SN-CZ, which we have submitted together with the German partners and the town of Liberec. However, we don’t have information about the commission’s decision on it so far. Hand in hand with the outlined options we organize fundraising events, evenings with auctions of pieces of art, etc. Currently, we negotiate with potential sponsors which might help us repair the floor in the big hall. Indeed, there is always an option to leave everything as it is and thus distinguish this space from others. However, this solution would raise many questions that can’t be ignored.

Currently, you represent a certain group of inhabitants of the town of Liberec, who may not be interested in the newly reconstructed premises. Half-repaired spaces always attract a certain group of people because of this specific feeling of incompleteness.

Yes, and exactly in this feeling lays the power of (not only) this building. Nowadays, almost everything that is not "normal" is actually "interesting". I would say that people combine their ideas of what is exceptional with the cartography of their inner space and due to higher level of selfishness of today's society such forms or styles of public space suit them. I will not be far from the truth when I say that the alpha and the omega for us is the energetic sustainability of a large hall. Under the current conditions, it is not possible to manage its operation so that the majority of the visitors would be satisfied.

To whom the cinema serves currently and who should use it in the future?

Our dramaturgy comes from the people. People address us and ask if it were possible to realize a certain event, and we serve as an intermediary. Of course, we present our own actions as well, because we would like to bring new titles to the town, but the main dramaturgy ranks to the public. Therefore, the cinema serves to all who want to do a culture here.

What is Your target group? What should be the function of a reconstructed cinema and how it will differ from its current state?

There two main goals of the Let’s save the Cinema Varšava initiative. Firstly, we want to revive and reconstruct the valuable Art Deco style building, which has contributed to the development of culture in Liberec since the 1920s. The building has many attractions and technical features that might serve as an inspiration not only to the today’s architecture, but also in terms of perceiving the cultural life in the town. The second major goal is to waken other interests among people than shopping or watching television. We hold opinion that looking after the cultural spirit of the town and the possibility of manifesting of our own cultural tendencies are one of the elements that make up a high-quality environment for life.

What are your plans if you fail to fulfill the original idea of a complete reconstruction and cinema operation?

If we fail to realize the hall reconstruction in the near future, we still will continue in running a good-quality cafe with an interesting program. However, we currently face the lack of the people who would be able to ensure the operation of the cafe as far as the practical issues are concerned. Due to the nature of the whole space and the program composition it is necessary that the café and dramaturgy coexist, support each other and meet mutual needs.

What has recently pleased you in the field of culture?

We are delighted that (though very slowly) the initiatives similar to ours are gradually gaining support across the society. That we are successful in raising arguments against the decision to demolish a valuable historic building, that is to reuse this building for various purposes. It's not about saving all the old buildings - indeed, it would be nonsense - but rather about thinking about the advantages, historical contexts and the future.

What, on the contrary, has disappointed You?

The continuing disappointment has been, for several years yet, represented by the politicians’ behavior. The distribution of power in terms of cultural activities is, at least in our town, something that impede innovative thinking and swift and sensible actions. But we believe that it is a matter of time when this will change.

What are Your wishes?

Peace in the world, peace of mind and the health of all loved ones. However, at least the first one, is of course a clear utopia.

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