EXCLUSIVE: 27 initiatives backed by MEDIA Mundus for 2013-2014

The European Commission (EC) has asked for an additional $3.25m (€2.5m) for the MEDIA Programme this year as part of a so-called “amending budget” for 2013.

The Commission explained that the extra $3.25m (€ 2.5m) for MEDIA (and a further $4.55m/€3.5m for the Culture programme) was being requested from the budgetary authority “mainly due to the lack of payment appropriations in 2012, which has pushed pre-financing payments into 2013.”

“Moreover, for the MEDIA Programme, final reports are arriving more quickly than initially foreseen, which leads to swifter implementation of projects,” the EC paper said.

Brussels’ application for an “amending budget“ of $14.55bn (€11.2bn) to cover its backlog of payments from 2012 has drawn negative reactions, in particular, from the UK where financial services minister Greg Clark called the EC’s request for extra cash “totally unacceptable,” while The Netherlands’ finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem argued that “the Commission has done nothing to try and find room within the [existing] budget.”

However, last week saw the EC’s President José Manuel Durão Barroso re-affirming his support for culture as “the cement that binds Europe together.”

“The European Commission believes that, even at these difficult times of budget constraints, Europe must not hesitate to invest in culture, a growth sector for new jobs, jobs with a future. This is precisely the spirit behind our new programme, ‘Creative Europe’,” Barroso [pictured] said in a speech in Vienna.

MEDIA Mundus backs 27 initiatives for 2013-14

27 initiatives have been supported by MEDIA Mundus with a total of $ 5.68m (€4.37m).

They include three new projects: two training initiatives coordinated by Denmark’s The Animation Workshop (SEA) and Poland’s Wajda Studio (ItF), and Frontières, a venture bridging Europe and North America and focusing on genre films, organised by Julie Bergeron’s Paris-based consultancy Vision-in-Motion.

76 projects had been submitted in response to MEDIA Mundus’ third and last call for initiatives which are being organised between 1 February 2013 and 1 October 2014.

The largest amount — $1.3m (€1m) — was awarded to Europa Cinemas Mundus which offers support for theatrical programming based on the circulation and exchange of films between EU member states and third countries.

According to the EC, the Europa Cinemas International network will now expand this year to cover 493 cinemas (2012: 439) in Europe and 215 in third countries (2012: 182).

Other successful initiatives in this round include WIDE Management’s Eye On Films, The Match Factory’s Distribution 2.0, European Distribution International, Buenos Aires-based Ventana Sur, Warsaw’s CentEast market, and the Berlinale Residency.

Producers’ workshops

Baltic Bridge East By West (B’Est), which received $ 104,000 (€ 80,000) in co-financing, will hold one of its producer workshops from 11-15 September during the 2nd St Petersburg International Film Festival and its first Northern Seas Film Forum co-production market (13-15 September).

Five producers from the CIS countries and Georgia and five from the EU will be selected to participate in the training programe which will stage its second workshop during Tallinn’s Baltic Event from November 26-29.

In addition, MEDIA Mundus, which was allocated a $19.5m (€15m) budget by the EC over three years between 2011 and 2013, awarded $164,000 (€126,000) for the Asia-Europe producers’ workshop Ties That Bind, coordinated by Friuli Venezia Giulia Audiovisual Fund and Luxembourg-based EAVE.

Ten producers from Asia and Europe, including China’s Lihong Kong, Singapore’s Jeremy Chua, Denmark’s Lene Børglum and France’s Judith Nora, will be attending a first workshop during the Udine Far East Film Festival (21-27 April), with a second one at the Busan International Film Festival parallel to the Asian Film Market at the beginning of October.

Free trade talk debate continues

Meanwhile, Alan Parker, Agnieszka Holland, and Neil Jordan are among members of the Federation of European Film Directors (FERA) who have rallied around European Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou in support of her assurances about the position of the European film and television industry in the forthcoming EU-US free trade talks.

Signed on behalf of some 20,000 European film and television directors, a FERA declaration noted that it was “most regrettable” that the cultural exception was apparently not going to be applied in the talks.

“Given the well-known US hostility to European support schemes for film, FERA further asks the Commissioners [Karel de Gucht and Michel Barnier] to confirm now that their negotiating position will adhere to the 2005 UNESCO Convention on the Diversity of Cultural Expression, formally adopted by the EU, a legally binding international agreement that supports the right of Member States to exclude cultural goods and services from international trade agreements,“ the European directors demanded.

Concern about the inclusion of audiovisual services in the planned free trade negotiations is also shared by MEPs at the European Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education.

For example, in an amendment to Petra Kammerevert’s draft report on connected TV, MEPs Lothar Bisky and Marie-Christine Vergiat called on the Commission, “in particular in the light of technological convergence, systematically to exclude audiovisual media services from the services covered by external trade agreements concluded by the EU, in keeping with the principle of ‘cultural exception’.”