Varšavska 3, the intersection of the city's alleys as well as the geometrical centre connecting the Preradović Square and Frankopanska Street, is the home of the Europa cinema, the oldest and the most beautiful working cinema in Zagreb.
The cinema was built in 1924 by the Muller family from Zagreb as designed by the architect Srećko Florschutz. Its interior, with its rich plaster decorations and post-secession classicistic details, is considered to be one of the most beautiful spaces in the city. For the past 70 years it has functioned as a classic cinema, which had operated under the name Balkan up to the beginning of the 1990s.
In the 1930s the inhabitants of Zagreb were discovering the beauty of Gance's Lucrezia Borgia on these premises, in the 50's they could talk to Miškec, the legendary vagabond from Zagreb who used to live in the boiler room of the cinema, in the 60's they used to attend "new" film premieres, but some of which would be as late as several months or years. Audiences today still visits the Europa cinema with the same enthusiasm.
During these tumultuous seven decades the names of the neighbouring steeets have been changed as well as the political and economic systems but the cinema has still maintained its original function - film enthusiasts, lovers and passers-by still come here to relax, escape reality, enjoy and watch a good film. Despite or maybe even in spite of changes, the cinema has always remained a cinema so we are keen to say that it holds an important place on the cultural map of Zagreb and that it has been taking an active part in film and city life.
The importance and cultural significance of the cinema was recognized by the citizens of Zagreb, the Croatian film clubs' association and the Zagreb Film Festival (ZFF) in 2007, when they jointly supported the boisterous and bold action Give me the Cinema which was supposed to appeal to the city authorities to buy the cinema and maintain its original use. In 2008, after the joint success of the public and institutions, the management of the cinema was entrusted with the organisation of the Zagreb Film Festival.
Under the management of the ZFF, the Europa cinema has remained a cult place which put an even greater emphasis on the promotion and spreading of the seventh art. It now shows independent films from all over the world, winners of the leading world festivals as well as the less known films which would normally never find their way to the big screens within the standard multiplex programmes.
In the last couple of years the Europa cinema has become known as the national as well as regional film centre and the key place for showing high-quality new films made in Croatia or in other neighbouring countries. However, special efforts have been made to show and promote local films.
Europa is the host of most Croatian film festivals and film programmes such as Animafest, Subversive Film Festival, Queer Zagreb, One Take Film Festival, Jewish Film Festival, ZFF, BH Film Days. With its 505 seats, two monumental lobbies, a cafe' and its relaxed atmosphere, the cinema is an ideal space for film premieres, exhibitions, promotions and lectures. All these events are attended by a great number of people, who make the cinema vibrant all year round.
All of our work and efforts were recognized even by some European institutions so since the end of 2008 two important certificates have had their place on the wall above the bar - one awarded by the network Europa Cinemas and another one by the CICAE, the network of European arthouse cinemas.
Being aware of the rich history of the cinema, we are striving to justify its cult status by restoring it and making its space even more beautiful and by ensuring good film programmes. These huge efforts are all being made in order to reach one goal - ensuring that the Europa cinema remains the true film centre of Zagreb and Croatia.