Many European film organisations have called for more clarification and precision in the European Commission’s (EC) draft Cinema Communication in their responses submitted by the 14 June deadline and now obtained by Screen.

Film and Music Austria, for example, criticised the draft’s seemingly arbitrary use of ‘film’ and ‘audiovisual media’, commenting that “the terminology of the paper is inconsistent in several places.”

In a joint position paper, five trade organisations EuroFIA, FERA, FIAPF, IVF and UNI-MEI warned that “any well-intentioned but essentially misguided policy choices in this area [of state aid] could create serious threats to the European film and audiovisual sectors in economic, social and cultural terms. Any damage to the sector at the current crucial juncture in its transition to the digital environment would be very difficult to repair.”

Their paper described the EC’s analysis of the necessity for limits to territorialisation and control on a supposed ‘subsidy race’ as “profoundly flawed“, while the European Coordination of Indepedent Producers (CEPI) pointed out that if the territorialisation proposal went through, it would create “serious difficulties” for European funding structures, “considering the majority of these film subsidies systems have been set up to last beyond 2013.”

Addressing the draft’s concern about a so-called ‘war of incentives’ to attract major foreign film productions, the European Producers Club (EPC) declared: “As we have underlined several times before, this ‘war’ does not exist. Countries have created similar systems so as to maintain a balanced market. There is no downward price war; no dumping or exceptional rebates to attract certain countries; nor unfair competition. Moreover, all systems are relatively similar (20% of tax rebate) and have cultural tests which certify that the films shot in these countries provide a cultural advantage.”

Meanwhile, AG Kino-Gilde, which represents 300 German independent arthouse cinemas criticised the draft’s conclusion that “the Commission does not consider it necessary to establish specific rules for operating or investment aid to cinemas.”

The exhibitors’ paper described cinemas as „an indispensable pillar of film exploitation“, which should be incorporated into the Communication, adding that „it is incomprehensible why the online distribution on a European level should be placed on a better standing vis-a-vis funding than the cinemas with their various activities for films.

Moreover, on the issue of release windows, the arthouse cinemas „strongly denounced“ the EC’s recommendation that Member States should not impose „unnecessary limitations“ on the distribution and marketing of an audiovisual work as a condition for supporting it.

At the same time, the EPC suggested that it seemed „contradictory“ for the Commission, on the one hand, to be planning a guarantee fund through the new Creative Europe programme and, on the other, to be creating „a system founded on an obscure regulation and unspoken rules.“ (ends)