Dialogue for Cinema as Cultural Heritage

Adana is a prominent city in Turkey in the field of culture and cinema. Golden Boll, Adana International Film Festival, being organised since 1969, is one of the most celebrated film festivals in Turkey. According to recent research on the cinema history of Adana, there were around 130 open-air cinemas and movie theatres and 90 film distribution companies in Adana since the first film screening was held in 1902. Cinema business and cinemagoing activities were intensified especially during the 1960s to 1980. During that period, cinemagoing was the major cultural activity among various communities in Adana. Adana is a functionally and socially mixed city and embodies multiple cultural values. In the 1960s and 1970s, Adana was a cinema oriented city: There were more than 130 open-air cinemas and movie theatres in the city and also 90 film distribution companies. Cinema halls and especially open-air cinemas were the centres of the socio-cultural life of the city and important public spaces, especially for women and children. The film industry in the Adana region was financially strong enough to support the national film production and the economic activities of the field were conducted by complex partnerships for three decades. The economic structure of the film industry in the Adana region weakened and the fall began by the late 1970s. Today, there are only 6 cineplexes, mostly located in malls and neither these halls nor the cinemagoing experiences are in the centre of social-cultural life. There is little awareness of this cultural asset of the city among the local community, youth, local institutions, even in research institutions.

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Cinema Terrace – One of the first cinema venues of Adana in the 1910s (Source: Ahmet Nadir İşisağ)

This project focuses on cinema venues of Adana, cinemagoing experiences in the city, and acknowledges such activities and assets as significant cultural values. It aims then to build a cultural dialogue between CSOs and other stakeholders operating in the field of culture (especially cinema/cinema-related activities) in Adana and the EU via establishing a network between organizations in Ghent and Antwerp in Belgium and Adana. Cinemagoing activities as a cultural value and remains of cinema venues occur as intangible cultural heritage and must be preserved. Just like museums, art galleries, performance theatres, and a variety of cultural festivals, cinema venues, open-air or theatres, and cinemagoing activities make creative cities. From this perspective, cinema as a cultural asset is one of the major cultural capitals of Adana. The main challenge is that the authenticity of the social and cultural experience of cinema/cinemagoing and its capacity of community-building appears to be a vanishing value, especially after the 1980s.

Cinema Kanal – After a film screening (possibly a premiere), the audience applauds the actors and actresses visiting the open-air cinema Kanal in the 1960s (Source: Sabri Şenevi)

The project aims to identify, recognize and regenerate this experience and make a community-based inventory of available tangible artefacts. In line with the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH Convention), this project aims to safeguard cinema culture and its community-building potential as intangible cultural heritage via cross-border dialogue and to raise awareness on the issue at the local, national and international levels. The Convention defines intangible cultural heritage as “the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills – as well as the instruments, objects, artefacts and cultural spaces associated therewith – that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals recognize as part of their cultural heritage. This intangible cultural heritage, transmitted from generation to generation, is constantly recreated by communities and groups in response to their environment, their interaction with nature and their history, and provides them with a sense of identity and continuity, thus promoting respect for cultural diversity and human creativity.” According to this definition, the intangible cultural heritage has three major components: a practice (action dimension), a community of people (social dimension) and a cultural environment (spatial dimension). If we are to apply those dimensions to cinema-related activities taken as cultural values, the activity and experience of cinemagoing meet the 1st dimension, historic cinema venues in Adana meet the 2nd, and social context of cinemagoing and cinemagoing as a community-building activity meet the 3rd dimension. Cinema is an art form that is shared by and among generations.

3 specific objectives related to the overall objective are defined for the project:

a. to raise awareness, especially amongst the youth and European civil society, on the cultural heritage value of historic cinema venues and experiences in Adana,

b. to share experience and knowledge between institutions in Belgium and Adana operating in the field of intangible cultural heritage with a special focus on historic cinema venues and cinemagoing experiences,

c. to produce creative content documenting and endorsing historic cinema venues and cinemagoing experiences as intangible cultural heritage.

Project Information

“Dialogue for Cinema as Cultural Heritage: Identification, recognition and community-based inventory of cinemas as the intangible cultural heritage in Adana via cross-border dialogue” is supported under the “Grant Scheme for Common Cultural Heritage: Preservation and Dialogue between Turkey and the EU–II (CCH-II)” implemented by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism with the financial support of the European Union. The “Grant Scheme for Common Cultural Heritage: Preservation and Dialogue between Turkey and the EU–II (CCH-II)” aims at promotion and enhancement of common cultural heritage activities implemented in partnership between Turkish and EU organizations. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism is responsible institution for the technical implementation of the Grant scheme Programme, while the Central Finance and Contracts Unit is the Contracting Authority.

Project Title: Dialogue for Cinema as Cultural Heritage: Identification, recognition and community-based inventory of cinemas as the intangible cultural heritage in Adana via cross-border dialogue

Funded Under: Grant Scheme for Common Cultural Heritage: Preservation and dialogue between Turkey and the EU-II (CCH-II)

Grant Agreement ID: TR2016/DG/03/A2-03/260

Project Duration: 15 months

Start Date: April 1st, 2021

Status: Ongoing

Applicant: Flying Balloon Children and Youth Association (Turkey)

Co-Applicants: University of Antwerp (Belgium), Çukurova University (Turkey), Ghent University (Belgium)

Associates: Adana Metropolitan Municipality (Turkey), Sabri Şenevi Sinema Evi (Turkey)