Hans-Joachim Flebbe, founder and managing director of Astor Film Lounge and Zoo Palast, has been named the 2023 recipient of the UNIC Achievement Award, given each year in recognition of outstanding dedication and service to European cinema exhibition. The Award will be presented as part of the CineEurope Awards Ceremony June 22 at the Centre de Convencions Internacional de Barcelona in Barcelona, Spain.
Flebbe has dedicated his career to the cinema industry for over 40 years, with a continued passion for and commitment to the highest standards of theatrical presentation.
From his debut in 1972 as a booking officer then programmer at the Apollo Cinema in Hanover, to opening his first cinemas in 1977 with the Kinos am Raschplatz, founding the CinemaxX Group and opening the first CinemaxX cinema in Hanover in March 1991, Flebbe has re-invented the cinema experience several times, with a unique ability to mix technology with tradition.
CinemaxX grew to be number one operator in Germany with at least 38 sites and more than ten locations in Denmark, Switzerland and Turkey. CinemaxX went public on the stock exchange in 1998. After 20 years as managing director and board member, Flebbe left CinemaxX AG at the end of 2008.
His passion has always been around art-house films and the renovation of historical cinemas. In 2008, he took over several cinemas including the Filmpalast Berlin, and converted them into luxury lounge cinemas, founding the Astor Film Lounge chain and developing an innovative premium cinema offer. Flebbe also renovated and reopened Berlin's long-established Zoo Palast cinema in 2013, which he still operates to this day.
Today, the premium cinemas of the Astor Group are present in other major German cities, with Germany's most traditional Grand Cinema – the Zoo Palast in Berlin – and the Astor Grand Cinema in Hanover (which was the first CinemaxX in 1991) also being part of the group.
Welcoming the announcement of the award, Phil Clapp, president of UNIC said, “We are absolutely delighted to honor Hans-Joachim at CineEurope 2023. The award recognizes his incredible passion for the big screen, his outstanding career and his key role in developing both the German and European cinema-going experience. On behalf of the UNIC Board and colleagues from across the industry, I would like to congratulate Hans-Joachim for this wonderful achievement.”
The Union Internationale des Cinémas/International Union of Cinemas www.unic-cinemas.org