The story of the first cinema in Kirovka village

October 28, 2021

Arzymat Almazbekov, young enterpreneur from Kirovka village. Photo: UNDP

The first and the only cinema in Kirovka village of Talas province has opened with the financial support of UNDP in the Kyrgyz Republic and has already become a favorite place for spending leisure time among local youth.

UNDP, within the framework of ongoing projects, provides grants to young entrepreneurs from rural areas in Kyrgyzstan as a part of efforts aimed at supporting the socio-economic development of regions and recovery from the negative consequences of COVID-19. A young businessman Arzymat Almazbekov from Kirovka village became one of the grantees that allowed him to open a cinema in his village.

“Last year we have opened a cinema in the premises of the village Culture House, which was not functioning. With the consent of the local authorities, we renovated the building’s small hall with a capacity of 33 people, and hold daily film shows. - says Arzymat - We stage films only in the Kyrgyz language, which is the local demand. We have contracts with cinemas in Bishkek and Talas that allows us to stage new films for our villagers staged in Bishkek. To watch new releases, our villagers do not need to waste time and money to travel to the city. Moreover, the ticket price per film is much lower - 120 KGS per session, when in Bishkek it varies from 150 to 170 KGS."

The young entrepreneur with his partners also bought a popcorn machine, so that everything would be like in a modern cinema, visitors can buy coffee, various snacks and soft drinks. A bucket of popcorn here costs only 50 KGS, in Bishkek, for instance, it is - 150 KGS. According to Arzymat, they tried to make the services as accessible to the local context as possible.

“When opening a cinema in a rural area, an entrepreneur, of course, takes a risk. However, receiving a grant within the framework of the Project also includes participation in specially organized training on running small and medium-sized businesses. They are taught entrepreneurial literacy, mentors work with them, so that the beginners have a real vision of their business, are ready for different situations and can make a worthy profit. Among the project participants, there are more often those who already had experience in some kind of entrepreneurial activity, in particular in trade, but they did not always go through some kind of even informal training." - explained the project coordinator Artur Bukalaev.

Within this initiative, UNDP had provided young entrepreneurs with a grant of 170 thousand KGS, which they spent on the purchase of a cinema projector, special speakers and a popcorn machine. Renovation of the hall, as well as its reconstruction into a cinema, the purchase of appropriate furniture was the contribution of their own.

“We were ready that the invested funds would not pay off immediately. In the first months after the opening of the cinema, we had always a full hall of audience, people were coming even from neighboring villages. The revenue was good. However, later we had to temporarily close our doors in line with the quarantine restrictions. When we resumed our work, attendance fell sharply, as the pandemic cut incomes for many people. However, now everything is slowly coming into place. Our cinema is the only one for several nearby villages and we do not feel competition. We almost didn’t spend on advertising, visitors themselves spread the word about the cinema and brought their friends with and family members with them, - smiles Arzymat - In general, now we are satisfied with the good attendance of film shows by children, youth, and adults. The cinema is open from nine in the morning until midnight and brings profit. Young people most willingly go to the cinema, because for them it has become an opportunity to escape from everyday worries and spend their leisure nicely. And finally, at least now we have a proper place to invite our mates on a date."

“This project has a certain social significance. We hope that the cinema will help meet the entertainment, cultural and educational needs of the local population and will have a positive cultural and educational impact.” - says M. Kaldarov, the UNDP Advisor on Peace and Development.

According to him, the prospect of the project is that the organization of leisure, in particular the opening of a cinema in rural areas, is relevant and the project can become a model for other villages.

The opening of a cinema in Kirovka village was initiated under the UNDP project “Implementing small grants to support the initiatives of young people at risk and community members in the development of their businesses, entrepreneurship and startups to prevent and respond to the COVID-19 crisis” which included about 3 million 700 thousand KGS were allocated for the implementation of 18 youth startups in rural areas of Kyrgyzstan.