Spanish arthouse distributor-exhibitor Golem Cinemas has won the Best Entrepreneur of the year nod awarded during their annual confab by the EU-backed Europa Cinemas network of exhibitors which support European pics.

The Europa Cinemas confab, held Nov. 21-24 in Athens, also picked Pawel Pawlikowski’s pluriprized “Ida” for the Euro exhibs’ “Coup de Coeur” prize.

Golem Cinemas, which is based in Madrid and the northern city of Pamplona, owns 35 screens at seven movie theatres, ranging from upscale multiplexes to its flagship Alphaville arthouse in central Madrid.

Despite Spain’s economic woes, the company, co-headed by Josetxo Moreno and Pedro Zaratiegui, has been dogged in its determination to persevere, actually increasing its acquisitions, as a risk-spreading strategy, rather than cutting back. Golem’s current lineup includes high-profile Euro-produced pics including Asghar Farhadi’s “The Past,” Bertrand Tavernier’s “Quai d’Orsay,” and Michael Haneke docu-feature “Michael H. Profession: Director.”

The Kino Artis loop in Talinn, Estonia, took the Best Programming prize, while Le Studio des Ursulines movie theatre for kiddie pics in Paris, won in the Best Young Audience Activities category.

Nearly 600 execs, mostly exhibitors, but also distributors, sales agents and producers, convened in the Athens Hilton and in nearby cinemas, watched films and held panels on topics ranging from digital distribution and how to lure young auds to the impact of the European Parliament’s recent approval of the European Commission’s new Creative Europe program which, with an almost $2 billion budget for arts subsidies over the next seven years, has prompted a collective sigh of relief across crisis-crazed Europe, which Athens epitomises.

The Athens event was opened by Creative Europe topper Xavier Troussard (pictured), a clear sign of continued support to Europa Cinemas, which was established in 1992 with funding from the EU’s MEDIA program, now being replaced by Creative Europe, and  from France’s Centre National de la Cinematographie (CNC).

John Hopewell in Madrid contributed to this report