A Brief History
Sentrum Cinema was built in 1939, and scheduled to open April 9th, 1940. However, due to “unforeseeable circumstances”, the opening was delayed until 1945. It remained Norway’s largest cinema, with a seating capacity of 1200, until it was closed in 1988. During this time it developed a reputation for being the only cinema in Oslo that offered a more alternative repertoire, screening for the most part action, rock, cult and horror films. In fact, it was one of the only cinemas in Oslo that screened horror films.
“New and Improved”
1993 marks the return of Sentrum, now called Sentrum Scene. However, it is now much more than what it once was. Sentrum Scene is today a music hall, a rock club, and a venue for theatre, dance, and seminars. Last but not least, Sentrum Scene is again a CINEMA. In 1995 it became home of the Underdog Animation Festival.
The building itself has undergone several changes. Before this year’s opening of Sentrum Scene, both the interior and exterior were given a face lift. However the original functionalist style and color themes have been preserved. The building remains a memento to Norway’s premiere functionalist architect, Ove Bang, and is in fact considered his “chef d’oeuvre”. Sentrum Scene also has two new projectors (35mm and 16mm), a new Dolby SR sound system, and a bar and café in the foyer.
An Idealistic Alternative
Sentrum Scene is a non-profit organization owned by Samkultur, which is an umbrella organization for various workers’ unions. Their role is to stimulate and protect cultural activity within the various unions. Therefore, any profit we make on an event here at Sentrum is reinvested. All events are for this reason considered non-commercial.
Sentrum Cinema’s Role in Oslo
In Oslo today there are only 1 1/2 repertory cinemas. Sentrum Scene wants to top this list and also bring something new to the Norwegian concept of repertory cinema (i.e. seminars, talks, small festivals, special events, and theme nights).
Vibeke Christensen, manager of Sentrum Cinema, has had experience in managing independent repertory cinema for the last three years, and is also credited with starting the Oslo International Film Festival together with Tommy Lørdahl. Line Sandsmark, assistant manager, is educated in critical theory and film analysis, and also has work experience from the film-making industry.
Sentrum Scene is aware of the tradition of repertory cinema in other larger cities such as London, Paris, and New York, and want to offer a similar repertoire in Oslo. We hope to become the best alternative cinema in Norway, with as varied a program as possible.
What makes Sentrum unique and “alternative” is the combination of a repertoire aimed at a specifically film-interested audience, excellent facilities, and the possibility of screening in a café/bar atmosphere. In other words, Sentrum’s audience will be able to enjoy excellent films in a high standard cinema, along with a drink, a snack, “coffee and cigarettes”.
The Current Situation in Oslo
A little must be said about the current cinema situation in Oslo today. Almost all cinemas in Norway are state and county run. This has made it difficult to run an alternative cinema, as the monopoly is accustomed to having full control over all cinematic activity. It is equally difficult, if not virtually impossible, for independent filmmakers to reach an otherwise active and interested film audience in Norway. Sentrum aims at filling this void by screening films that state distributors overlook, while in so doing creating a niche where alternative film artists can show their work, and thereby expand their audience. We hope to function as the “missing link” between new independent film makers and distributors, and the older, established “entertainment film” industry.
Despite the fact that there are few repertory cinemas in Oslo, the various cinemas are still known for screening specific types of films, be it action, drama, comedy, European or American, etc. For this reason, it is quite important for each film to be screened at the “right” cinema, in order to reach its audience. This is a situation distribution companies here are quite aware of. It is also another reason for why Sentrum Scene can benefit the local film industry, as well as international distributors looking to reach a more active, critical audience here in Norway.
Several Options Under One Roof
Sentrum has the possibility of both “large” and “small” screenings, neither of which compromise the quality of the projected image. The auditorium can be partitioned to accommodate a smaller audience of 200-300, an ideal size for short film screenings and seminars. Without partitions, Sentrum seats 700, ideal for full-length feature films, premieres, festivals, and special events. Needless to say, we plan to take full advantage of this flexibility. Short film screenings, for example, are already a standard feature of Sentrum Scene’s weekly agenda.
In order to achieve as varied and interesting a repertoire as possible, Sentrum Scene is interested in working with other distributors and repertory cinemas abroad. Sentrum is also currently working to establish a wider network of other independent and county run cinemas in Norway, in order to help secure further screenings for any films we import. We also intend to register a private film club connected to Sentrum in order to facilitate uncensored screenings of films that would otherwise be “edited” for a more general audience at other Oslo cinemas, or simply banned.
Due to the type of scheduling we prefer, we are at this point primarily interested in short-term rental of films. An independent distribution company is also under development, however. The existence of such a company would enable future purchase of films.
We hope to be in contact with you in the future. For further information please contact:
Arne Dahr, manager Tel: (+47) 22 20 60 40