As Cannes prepares to host Europe’s most prestigious film festival for the 62nd time, a survey released yesterday (11 May) found that a record number of films were produced in the EU last year and admissions to European films remained strong.
A total of 17 films, which received over €3 million of co-financing from the EU’s Media Mundus programme, will be shown at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival, the most prestigious event in the European film calendar (13-24 May). Indeed, ten of the twenty films selected for prizes in 2009 received EU funding.
Speaking ahead of the festival, EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said Europe should make sure that more European films are shown in mainstream cinemas in third countries, rather than during specialist European film festivals abroad.
“It’s all very well for European films to win Oscars, but that’s not enough,” she said. “We should aim to ensure that they are widely distributed via commercial media.”
Record number of European productions
A record 1,145 feature films – including feature-length documentaries – were produced in the EU in 2008, a market share of 28.4% of European cinema admissions, according to a survey on world market trends in film production compiled by the European Audiovisual Observatory.
Cinema attendance across the bloc as a whole increased by 0.5%, reaching 924 million admissions last year, while ABBA-based musical Mamma Mia! and James Bond film Quantum of Solace were the most popular films of 2008, the research found.
112 more films were produced in the EU last year than in 2007, the EAO found. Indeed, “European productions levels for entirely national and majority co-productions have increased by 10.8% year-on-year and by an annual average of 7.1% since 2004”.
The high popularity of national films in their own countries’ markets is largely responsible for maintaining such a high European market share. French films led in this regard, with a local market share of 45.4%.
EU funding boost
Meanwhile, the EU last week (7 May) adopted a €15m funding package to boost the worldwide competitiveness of the European audiovisual industry and foster collaboration with third countries.
MEPs approved by large majority (484 votes in favour and 16 against amid 25 abstentions) the funding package for the next phase of the EU’s Media Mundus programme in support of European film, approving a report drafted by German EPP-ED member Ruth Hieronymi.
The programme for 2011-2013 will strengthen international professional collaboration and information exchange by funding training and scholarships, with the aim of “making networking between European and third-country audiovisual professionals easier”.
Media Mundus is designed to “improve access to foreign markets and build trust and long-term commercial relationships” and “improve the competitiveness and transnational distribution of audiovisual works worldwide by making international co-productions easier”.
It also seeks to:
- Improve circulation and exposure of audiovisual works worldwide and increase public demand, especially among young audiences, for culturally diverse audiovisual content.
- Contribute to joint EU-third country co-productions by facilitating access to commercial financing.
- Improve transnational film distribution through financial support for printing, subtitling and advertising.
- Fund training on using new technologies, like Web TV.
On 15 May, the European Commission will host an information day on the Media programme for cinema professionals in Cannes.