Commission seeks to boost EU film industry

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With the international and European audiovisual markets dominated by US productions, the European Commission is looking for new ways to strengthen the European film industry and enhance cooperation with third countries.

The Media International initiative has already struck a chord, attracting considerable interest, Commission official Aviva Silver explained on Wednesday (25 June) during a public hearing in which numerous film industry stakeholders participated. 

34 applications have already been submitted, while more than 200 professionals have contributed to the policy debate via an online public consultation, she noted. 

Boosting the image of Europe in the world 

Speaking at the public hearing, German centre-right MEP Ruth Hieronymi (EPP-ED) welcomed the widespread interest and support for the Media International project in Europe and abroad, saying it was “a brilliant example of what the EU means by fostering cultural diversity”. 

At a time when the importance of a strategy for external cultural policies is being stressed repeatedly, Media International and Media Mundus provide the European film industry with the opportunity to develop international networks for the promotion of Europe’s image in the world, she added. 

Making room for culture in international law 

Jean Musitelli, a former French ambassador to UNESCO, congratulated the Commission on the Media International initiative, which was originally designed to comply with the standards set out in the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expression. He said he was pleased with the efforts made to meet the terms of the Convention. 

“UNESCO is working to make more room for culture in international law: there is a possibility to integrate parts of UNESCO conventions into international trade law, in a similar way to what has happened for environmental legislation,” he concluded. Competitiveness and cultural diversity are in fact complementary and can be reconciled. 

The EU launched its 'Media International' initiative in December 2007 as a preparatory action with the aim of encouraging the two-way flow of cinematic works with third countries. €2 million out of the EU's budget was allocated to this pilot scheme and will be distributed to projects covering training for audiovisual professionals, the promotion of cinematic works and support for distribution networks. A call for proposals, published by the Commission in April 2008, will close on 13 June 2008.

The project is an annual one, which can only be renewed twice, with the support of the European Parliament. The final aim is to help the Commission draft a proposal for a 'Media Mundus' programme, due to be presented to the Parliament and Council by the end of the year and launched fully in 2011. 

  • 9-11 July 2008: Jury to evaluate proposals. 
  • Aug. 2008: EC to communicate list of selected projects. 
  • By Dec. 2008: Media Mundus proposal to be adopted. 

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