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Eurimages confirms Canada and Israel in talks to join fund; Gulf countries could follow

Roberto Olla, executive director of Eurimages (The Council of Europe’s film fund) has again raised the possibility that Eurimages will become a fund “that goes beyond the geographical limit of Europe.”

Speaking from Venice, where Eurimages has a stand at the inaugural Venice film market, the Eurimages boss painted a future in which countries from all over the world will participate in the Fund.

Olla [pictured] confirmed that Canada and Israel are already in discussions to join Eurimages. Other possible new entrants include Montengro, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine.

The news of the Fund’s possible expansion comes as applications are continuing to rise.

“We’ve witnessed an increase in the number of projects we receive,” Olla said. He attributed this to the financial crisis, which “is pushing producers even more so to knock on the doors of public funds.” Now, Olla suggested, even broadly commercial projects that would once have expected to find their financing on the open market are turning toward Eurimages.

The Fund is also putting feelers out to the Gulf countries. Underlining its increasing reach beyond Europe, Eurimages will be holding a board of management meeting at the Dubai Festival in December.

Olla stated that the European Convention on Cinematographic Coproduction is likely to be overhauled.

The Convention (a key instrument for European coproduction) is now set to be “exported” beyond Europe. The Council of Europe commissioned a study of the Convvention by Olsberg SPI. Published earlier this year, this concluded that the Convention had been crucial in facilitating coproductions in Europe.

“It has been so successful that it would be silly not to export this success story that Europe has had for the last 20 years to other countries,” Olla said. “The idea would be to consider this instrument (the Convention) as an instrument at the disposal of any country that wants to start co-operating in the cinematographic sector with other countries.”

There is no time frame on the likely changes to the Fund. However, Olla said that the amendments to the Convention wouldn’t happen before 2014. The Council of Europe has bi-annual budgets, and therefore the changes would have to wait till the 2014-2015 spending round.

“However, the talks about whether Eurimages should co-operate with non-European countries have already started,” Olla noted. The Board of Management has already established a study group chaired by France to look into the feasibility of the expansion.

There are currently 36 members in Eurimages. The Fund has a budget of €25 million a year. Of this, around €23 million comes from member state contributions. The rest is revenue generated by the films the Fund supports.

Films with Eurimages backing in Venice include competition entry The Fifth Season by Jessica Woodworth and Peter Brosens and Ulrich Seidl’s Paradise: Faith.

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