The European Ministers met this morning on this 6th Europe Day to discuss “building a world of exchanges.” Commissioner Viviane Reding characterized the intent of today’s meetings, “We are looking at how we can intensify interaction in the audiovisual field between the EU countries and major film markets, be they well-established or just emerging, on other continents.”
The MEDIA Programme was inaugurated in 1991, set up as an arm of the European Union to support Europe’s cinematographic and audiovisual industry and help it become more competitive. A real success story: Having started with 200M euros for 12 countries, it is now in its fourth reincarnation (for the 2007-2013 period), with funds of 755M euros allocated to 32 countries.
For the occasion, 14 Ministers were present – Belgium, Croatia, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, UK, Romania, and Slovenia. Among the filmmakers invited to participate was promoting film director Cristian Mungiu from Romania, whose feature 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days won the Palme d’Or at the Festival last year.
Viviane Reding made the following statement to the press at the end of the session: “Cristian Mungiu was the one who introduced our discussions, who followed it during the whole session. The member of the Official Selection Jury from Thailand [Apichatpong Weerasethakul] was also speaking to us about his experiences in Thailand and in the Asian countries, so that we have really learned a lot. And we are going to take it back and share this in the European Council of Ministers of the Media, which is going to take place this week. One thing is very clear: The Ministers marching and going together, going up the red carpet towards European cinema, shows that, yes, we believe in our filmmakers, we love our films, Vive European cinema!”
The important outcome of the meeting today was the announcement of a future MEDIA Mundus, that intends to take the programme international. "Today we must extend our borders and that is why we are proposing to enlarge the scope of the actual MEDIA Programme reserved for European film development and to create MEDIA Mundus in order to establish solid joint ventures between European professionals and other countries, notably third-world countries,” explained Ms Reding.
"Not only we will have a Council of European Ministers meeting this week, but we will have a very important Council during the French presidency," continued Ms Reding. "Our French colleague has been leading the discussions with us and the question of distributing the films online, having a model which respects the fair retribution of the filmmakers is going to be very high on the agenda of the French Presidency."
French cultural Minister Christine Albanel came up to the podium in order to elaborate: "Concerning the issue of copyrights, France is very active on the subject; a law is just about to be passed. The 45 signatories of the Elysées agreement unites professionals of all sectors, from Internet access providers to filmmakers, music publishers, consumers, and television stations. The project is twofold: first of all, it expands the offer to consumers and secondly deals with the media, notably concerning the shortened release dates for films. An Authority will be created to oversee rights and deal with illegal downloading. It is temperate in nature, balanced and should appeal to cybersurfers.”
Viviane Reding also announced “the good news” for those in the cinematographic profession in Europe, that the European restriction against the state giving aid to film projects has been reversed and these aids will be taking effect during the next three years. They will allow filmmakers in each country an added opportunity to bring their projects to fruition, and thereby expand each film territory’s offer and identity.