In 2003, we, the Japan Association for Cultural Exchange (Ace Japan) and the Film Network Promotion Committee founded the Japan Community Cinema Center. Since 1996, we have held a Film Exhibition Network Conference each year, in several cities in Japan, in order to explore ways to promote public exhibitions of films, and to discuss various problems for those engaged in film exhibitions. These problems include:
- An increasing gap in the frequency of film exhibitions in cities and outlying regions;
- The closing of cinemas in city centers due to the emergence of multiplexes in the suburbs;
- A lack of diversity in the range of films available for screening
Through discussions to seek ways to create an environment to enrich film culture in situations where these above-mentioned problems are getting more serious, a focus has been set on the necessity of public support for film exhibitions, and this is what developed into the idea of Community Cinema.
In Japan, Bunka Geijutsu Shinko Kihon Ho (Ground Policy for Promotion of Art and Culture) was issued in December 2001, in which film was defined as art, and it was also clarified that film should be promoted as a part of national culture. In the same year, ACE Japan was granted the opportunity by the Agency for Cultural Affairs to conduct a two-year research project to investigate public support systems for film exhibitions in Europe, the U.S and Korea. Moreover, in 2002, we also conducted research to investigate the current situation of film exhibitions in Japan. Through these research projects, the role of Community Cinema as an organization responsible for public film screening in Japan was clarified, and we started preparation for specific activities.
The theme of the Film Exhibition Network Conference held in September 2003 was "Declaration for Community Cinema," and the first activities by the Community Cinema were announced to be: rectifying the gap in the environment for film exhibitions between cities and outlying regions; increasing the range of films for screening; offering opportunities to larger audiences to appreciate a wider range of films, and creating a healthy environment for film culture in regional areas. We also announced the founding of the Japan Community Cinema Center, to promote and support the activities of the Community Cinema.
Community Cinema is a non-profit organization mainly consisting of local organizations that are responsible for cinema and media culture, such as film festivals, film societies, cine clubs, art museums, public halls, local authorities, schools, libraries, and art cinemas, and so on. The community also strives to create a healthy environment of film culture in regional areas and to initiate projects related to local film exhibitions and other activities.
Japan Community Cinema Center supports the founding of Community Cinema and its activities and creates networks to promote them. The office has been set up at ACE Japan, the organizer of Film Exhibition Network Conference. Currently, the Japan Community Cinema Center is committed to following specific projects and tasks:
- Creating a film library in order to offer services to community cinemas;
- Promoting support systems for public film screenings;
- Holding meetings for film exhibitors to exchange ideas and information;
- Offering consultation for the founding and holding of Community Cinema;
- Holding seminars to train specialists for film exhibitions;
- Offering information through websites, email, magazines and newsletters;
- Editing and publishing an annual report on film exhibitions and other research projects
We also aim to gain acknowledgement from the society in the roles, contributions and future visions of Community Cinema and to try to cooperate with national and local authorities, corporations and other art-related organizations.