EU filmmakers get €5m funding boost

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The European cinema industry will get €5m this year to enhance filmmakers’ cooperation with their counterparts in third countries, the European Commission announced on Friday (18 September).

The extra funding, aimed at “encouraging audiences in Europe and abroad to discover foreign films,” will allow EU audiovisual professionals “to learn new skills and promote the industry” by boosting collaboration with colleagues based outside Europe, the Commission explained. 

Among 40 projects selected to receive funding are joint training, reciprocal promotion and distribution schemes, as well as film screenings. 

The projects, worth a total of €5m, will be funded under the EU’s Media International programme, and represent “the start of intensified EU efforts” to bring diversity to screens worldwide and create new business opportunities in the audiovisual sector. 

The budget increase for 2009 was approved by the European Parliament last December, and the 40 projects were chosen from 95 applications for funding under this year’s Media International scheme. 

EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding said the €5m funding boost “demonstrates the EU’s enhanced commitment to boosting Europe’s audiovisual industries internationally”. 

Reding particularly thanked MEPs for “highlighting the importance of cross-border cooperation and cultural diversity for the film sector in Europe and in our partner countries” during the approval process. 

Training funded from the extra cash will help professionals to deepen their understanding of “the operating conditions, legal frameworks and financing of audiovisual markets abroad,” for example by organising workshops in West Africa. 

At present, the EU supports the screening of European, Mediterranean, Asian and Latin American films via the ‘Europa Cinemas‘ network of 342 cinemas in Europe and 183 elsewhere. 

Ten new projects funded from the €5m aim to help European films gain access to international markets and provide funding to promote their distribution, like a new ‘Producers Lab Toronto’, which builds upon links already established in the context of the Toronto Film Festival. 

The money will also be used to help increase the potential audience for foreign films, for example by providing traveling digital projectors to bring movies to cinema-deprived areas. 

"Europe has an exciting, culturally diverse and innovative film sector which is eager to share its knowledge with audiovisual professionals from other parts of the world and at the same time to learn from them, taking into account other cultural backgrounds and experiences," said EU Media Commissioner Viviane Reding

Cinema attendance soared in the EU during the first half of 2009, provisional figures from the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO) showed on 11 September (EURACTIV 14/09/09). 

An earlier EAO survey had found that a record number of films were produced in the EU last year and admissions to European films remained strong (EURACTIV 12/05/09). 

The EU helps to fund the European film industry via its Media Mundus programme. The current Media 2007 phase provides EU filmmakers with €755m for the period 2007-2013, and has helped fund award-winning films like Slumdog Millionaire (UK), Gomorra (Italy) and La Vie en Rose (France). 

In summer 2008, the European Commission announced it was exploring ways of increasing the share of European films in extra-EU markets to counter the dominance of Hollywood (EURACTIV 11/06/08), primarily through the 'Media International' initiative (EURACTIV 27/06/08) approved by MEPs in December. 

A March study published by the EAO had found that American fiction still "overwhelmingly dominates" European television screens, but European productions are increasing their market share (EURACTIV 26/03/09). 

Separate EAO research published last autumn had found that European co-productions are released in more EU countries and fare better at the box office than their entirely national counterparts (EURACTIV 16/09/08). 

  • 25 Nov.: Winner of 2009 ‘Lux Prize’ for European cinema announced in the European Parliament. 

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