Signatories from the US and Europe have backed a manifesto to give more rights to writers. John Hazelton reports
Launched at this year's Berlin International Film Festival, the European Screenwriters' Manifesto had around 2,000 signatories as of late May.
Most of them were writers, but the document has also been endorsed by directors, producers, actors and film critics, says Christina Kallas, president of the Federation of Screenwriters in Europe, which initiated the manifesto.
Among other things, the manifesto (which can be read in full at www.scenaristes.org) asserts that the screenwriter's moral rights should be 'fully honoured in practice' and that he or she 'should be entitled to an involvement in the production process as well as in the promotion of the film and be compensated for such work'.
It also calls for national governments to fund writers directly and to ensure they can 'organise, negotiate and contract collectively'.
Among the manifesto's high-profile supporters is Babel screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga, who says the document 'shows that writers don't like to be considered in a certain way in the industry. The way you sell yourself is the way you're going to be bought.'
Some writers and producers, though, wonder whether the call for writers to be involved in the production process is necessary or achievable, particularly in the US.
And though the manifesto was recently endorsed by the International Affiliation of Writers Guilds, of which the Writers Guild of America is a member, many Hollywood writers are not yet aware of the document's existence.
Kallas says the manifesto 'had a wave of signatures (from the US) around the Oscars. But we believe its career in the States has just started. The issues and wishes are the same,' she adds, 'whether we're talking about European or American writers.'