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70MM in Varnsdorf - a new hope?

The 70mm Newsletter
Written by: Ulrich Rostek, Germany Date: 17.05.2015
Pavel Nejtek directing his team

Hard times for a 70mm addict. The traditional Widescreen Weekend in Bradford was shifted to October and business kept me away from Krnov. So I felt happy, when an up till then unknown event was announced on “In70mm.com”. Once again I took a long journey only to watch a couple of movies.

Imbedded in a beautiful landscape not too far away from either the German or the Polish border the Czech smalltown Varnsdorf is not the center of the world and tourist attractions are somewhat limited.
More in 70mm reading:

70MM in Varnsdorf – eine neue Hoffnung?

70mm Film Festival in Centrum Panorama Varnsdorf

Warum sollte man 700 km fahren um Hamlet in 70mm zu sehen?

Internet link:
Frank Burkhard Habel and interpreter introducing GOYA

When I first approached the “Centrum Panorama” I was a little bit in a worry. Did I come too late? Is the site just being demolished? The empty hotel building just next door to the cinema with it’s smashed windows did not look very inviting. But it is better not to judge a book by its cover. Inside the unspectacular shell there was a pearl to be found: A restored 500 seat cinema hall with a large curved screen (7,2 * 16,5 m), two tip top maintained Meopta UM3570 projection machines and a powerful sound system ready to perform the 70mm-format for the next three days.
Lecture on film formats

Pavel Nejtek is an enthusiastic film buff and a passionate collector of all kinds of projection machines. It was at least this passion that made him buy the closed down Cinema “Centrum Panorama” then in a disastrous condition - and restore the place with lots of work and money so it could be reopened in 2007. More than a dozen historical movie projectors are now exhibited in the foyer.

This 70mm event was part of the cross-border Neisse Film Festival, named by the river Neisse which marks the border between Germany and Poland since the end of World War II. German film historian Frank-Burkhard Habel opened the event with a short introduction to the east-German/Sovjet 70mm production "Goya" which was to start the festival.
Meopta UM3570 at work

The prints, most of which were contributed by the Kinomuseum Berlin, were - aside from the inevitable color fading - in an overall good condition. The new restored print of "Spartacus" was really in full color, the best way I ever watched that spectacular movie.

My personal favourite was the performance of "Hello, Dolly!". A short lecture on film formats held by Jean-Pierre Gutzeit (Kinomuseum Berlin) was followed by a practical course: The prologue sequence was performed three times, first a 16mm anamorphic print, then 35mm CinemaScope, and finally full Todd-AO - no grain, excellent sharpness, powerful multichannel sound, and only slightly colour faded.

But it was not only a festival on the screen. All those keen on looking behind the scenes were invited by Pavel Nejtek and his team to have a look inside the projection booth and watch the projectionists doing their job.
Prague style ham

The officially last film of the festival was "Around the World in 80 Days". But then the organizers came up with a surprise: As an extra benefit the sound system was torture tested by a full colour 70mm blow up print of Hal Ashby's Rolling Stones Documentary "Let's Spend The Night Together".

After the final curtain the audience was invited for a "come together" in the cinema's bar "Film Point" where a rich buffet with bohemian beer and a giant Prague-style ham were offered.

Is the “Centrum Panorama” a new hope for heavily addicted 70mm-buffs? In my opinion it surely is. This was an overall successful festival debut. An enthusiastic and inspired team is dying to perform 70mm films as long as prints exist. I wish an annual festival could be established and additional film fans would follow the event so that the about fifty spectators would not feel so lonely in a 500 seats hall. A big cheer to Pavel Nejtek and his team. Let the force be with you!
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Updated 21-01-24