Better co-ordination of the public money available to European film, rather than a need for more cash, was one of the main conclusions to emerge from a four-day meeting that concluded in Venice this weekend.
The other major policy proposal was for Europe's television broadcasters to make air-time available for promotion of the region's home grown feature film content.
The event involved specialist workshops consisting of film executives and Europe's national and regional film agencies. This was followed by a meeting of EFAD, the recently set-up association of European Film Agencies (such as France's CNC, the UK Film Council and the Danish Film Institute). That then reported to a "European Council" conference involving culture ministries from all 15 European Union member states and their opposite numbers from the ten countries which are set to join the EU in 2004. The whole lot was organised by Italy, which currently holds the revolving presidency of the EU.
In a rambling and self-inflating speech Italy's culture minister Giuliano Urbani said that the entire four-day session was dedicated to the notion of improving cross-border circulation of non-national European films and that the informal meting would probably guide policy in this area.
However, he let himself down with bizarre suggestions such as a need to follow the Danish model of improving distribution by achieving more pre-sales.
Sources close to Urbani says that the huge volume of documentation on cross-border distribution prepared for the conference shows that 49 films in the last seven years have been distributed in 12 or more EU territories other than the home producer country. Leading distributors of European films include Italy's Bim and Germany's Prokino.
The co-ordination of aid axis emerged as it became evident that the largest-budget European films find it difficult to mount as co-productions. Affecting forthcoming and current legislation such as the new German Film Law and Portugal's new film policies, the matter is likely to be urgently discussed at further meetings in Gdansk and Taormina later this autumn.
The "possible approaches" to policy outlined by the workshops included a low thresh-hold requirement on European broadcasters to promote European film as an alternative to either the broadcast quotas of the current Television Without Frontiers directive and the film investment quotas imposed on some broadcasters by some EU member countries. Both are regularly breached by many TV stations.
Other matters discussed included a three-pronged approach to digital cinema, consisting of anti-piracy measures, a speedy development of a European digital rights management standard and legislated private use of film content similar to models now being pioneered in the music industry.
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