Media program strengthens the diversity and reach of European cinema


European filmmakers are fortunate to have a friend in Brussels who gives them a reliable helping hand in making and seeing their films.

Over the past 30 years, the European Union’s Media Program has supported the EU’s film industries in multiple ways, investing more than 2.6 billion euros ($ 3.1 billion) in programs that stimulate the production of new local films and other content, from development to distribution.

Since 1991, the Media program has systematically pursued its declared objectives of promoting European cultural and linguistic diversity and promoting the circulation of European films in Europe and beyond.

Almost all European authors, from Pedro Almodóvar to Bosnian Jasmila Žbanić (“Quo Vadis, Aida?”) – whose latest works are both recent laureates – derive vital benefits from the program’s unwavering support.

Among the films that have recently received media support are the titles of the Cannes competition “The story of my wife”, “Bergman’s island”, “The compartment n ° 6”, “Titane” and “Three floors. “. Other titles supported by the media at Cannes include “Onoda – 10,000 Nights in the Jungle”, which opens Un Certain Regard.

“Our long-term indirect goal is to create a habit among European audiences of seeing [European] films that do not necessarily have to be supported by us ”, says Lucía Recalde, media manager, who adds that the cross-border circulation of these images has increased considerably.

Since its inception, the Program has offered two specific mechanisms to boost distribution: Media Automatic Support, a subsidy to distributors of European films when they are screened outside their country of origin, on the basis of a percentage of their performances. at the box office; and Media Selective, which supports groups of at least seven European distributors from different countries who acquire the same film, thus giving the film a de facto pan-continental release.

“The media is quite simply the most important fund that exists for us as a sales agent, as well as for our distributors,” says Jenny Walendy, head of legal and commercial affairs at the German sales center Match Factory.

Walendy points out that the automatic support program, in which Media gives distributors a subsidy to invest in a minimum guarantee to buy a new European film only if their previous film made money at the box office, is working well because you are rewarded “for doing a good job.” The selective system, in which a group of distributors can obtain funding of up to 50% of their printing and advertising expenses for the pan-European launch of a European photo, is “a very nice program to encourage closer collaboration. Between [European] distributors, but also between distributors and sales agents. “One thing I am sure of is that the media are extremely important when I make my decision to buy a film,” says Eric Lagesse, former French distributor, president of Pyramide Distribution.

“When the sales agent tells you, ‘There are already 12 distributors and we could get selective media support’, it makes a big difference.” But he is less enthusiastic about the increasingly ‘complicated’ red tape. necessary to obtain this grant, especially during the pandemic.

Indeed, “during the pandemic, access to [Media] the cash flow has stopped “, explains Christine Eloy, Managing Director of Europa Distribution, which represents more than 100 independent distributors across the EU Eloy points out that” in general, the media are not equipped to offer a very immediate and direct ”to appeals for help because its rules are bound by a rigid legal framework, but“ it still provides a very important safety net ”. The biggest achievement of the media, according to Matthijs Wouter Knol, President of the European Film Academy, is that it has enabled Cinéart to empower filmmakers and industries in every EU

countries “to start thinking at European level regarding projects and to say:” This is a great idea! How can we make it work for the rest of Europe as well? ‘ »While giving them the tools to team up with the nicest pan-European partners to bring it to the screen.

Knol has been involved in the media in many ways over his more than two decades in the industry. First as a film producer, drawing on its funding; then head of the media-supported Berlinale Talents program, which encourages emerging global filmmakers; as head of the Berlin European Film Market which, although not financially supported by the media, is strongly supported by all the events he organizes there; and finally as head of the European Film Academy funded by the program, which runs the rough equivalent of the Oscars in Europe.

He underlines his “whole beautiful labyrinth of training programs” which “have really professionalized the industry in Europe”. “They popped up all over Europe that weren’t on the map, setting up programs and adapting to changing market conditions,” Knol adds.

“Our support goes more than proportionally to content and film professionals in small countries; this is how we expand their participation in the market, ”says Recalde.

“Content from smaller countries, in less widely used languages,” clearly has a harder time establishing itself internationally.

In addition to being born with the idea of ​​creating strong pan-European collaborations and making known countries with lower production capacities, Media’s objective was from the start to “promote real European co-productions; not just purely financial, ”says Lucia Milazzotto, director of the Rome MIA market for international television series, films and documentaries. It was launched in 2015, with partly media support, and has become a cornerstone of pan-European cross-pollination.

Another key area of ​​program support is the promotion of works and talents from the continent through European Film Promotion, the umbrella entity which, in addition to its Shooting Stars initiative for talents, sets up stands for film agents. sale at events such as the Toronto Film Festival, the Asian Film Market in Busan and FilMart in Hong Kong.

“We are trying to help improve the circulation of European films by working on a business-to-business basis,” says Sonja Heinen, Director General of EFP. EU sales companies can apply for 50% aid on their expenses for campaigns to promote films at international festivals.

“We think: what can we do for the movies? »» At this year’s Sundance, which took place virtually, VET held a dedicated session with 10 invited US buyers to plug in six European photos at the festival, including ‘Hive’, the Women’s Empowerment Drama of Kosovo by first-time director Blerta Basholli.

“Hive,” which ended up winning three Sundance Grand Prizes, has since been sold by Danish sales company LevelK for theatrical distribution almost worldwide, including North America, UK, UK, UK. China, Australia and New Zealand, in addition to having obtained releases in much of continental Europe.


About Monty S. Maynard

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