The ninth edition of Cannes’ European Rendezvous focuses on MEDIA’s preparations for the new programme

The 20th anniversary of the European Union’s MEDIA Programme and preparations for its extension past 2013 will be the focus of the ninth edition of the European Rendezvous held during this year’s Cannes Film Festival.

Speaking exclusively to ScreenDaily, Dennis Abbott, spokesperson for Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multinlingualism and Youth, said that with this programme of events in Cannes she wishes “to celebrate the 20-years of MEDIA and individual success stories; highlight the capacity of the programme to evolve and adapt to the needs of the sector through geographical expansion, technological innovations with new platforms etc, and the international dimension with MEDIA Mundus; and show that the Commission is consulting extensively with the market and its professionals for the preparation of the new programme.”

Jaco van Dormael, Paolo Sorrentino and Theo Angelopoulos are among 20 European film directors already confirmed for a closed meeting, hosted by Vassiliou and festival president Gilles Jacob  on the morning of May 16 “to discuss  the future of European funding for filmmakers and new ways of engaging with audiences.”

This will be followed in the afternoon by a public conference entitled “Future MEDIA Programme, Europe listens to the Audiovisual Industry” in the press room of the Festival Palais

“Representative(s) of the 20 filmmakers will report on the results of their morning meeting with the Commissioner,” Abbott explained. “Then, a panel discussion will discuss the future MEDIA Programme with a specific focus on the demand side of the audiovisual market and new ways of engaging with the audience such as new distribution channels and marketing tools.” Speakers confirmed so far include Rodolphe Belmer from Canal + and Jérôme Chung from the VOD specialist Under the Milky Way.

However, Commissioner Vassiliou will not be able to be present in person at this conference as she has to return to Belgium to join European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso for an event being held for Commission’s Youth on the Move strategy.

On May 17 (Tuesday), the Commission to organise a second closed event in Cannes, “MEDIA meets the Film Funds” with national and regional film funds from inside and outside of the European Union to discuss new financial instruments available for the film industry.

“The success of the first forum [held at last year’s Cannes Film Festival] led us to propose a sequel,” Abbot said. “We see a need for national and regional authorities to have a networking platform and we feel that the EU is well-placed to provide such a framework.”

Last year’s conference on the role of film funds and their visions of the future was attended by such film funders as Katriel Schory of the Israel Film Fund, Vincenzo Bugno of the Berlinale’s World Cinema Fund, Roberto Olla of Eurimages, Peter Dinges of the German Federal Film Board (FFA) and Philippe Reynaert of Belgium’s Wallimage.

The European Rendezvous will kick off next Sunday when Commissioner Vassiliou presents the 2011 European Talent Prize to the screenwriter and producer of the best idea for a film with European potential. In the evening, she will attend a screening in the Festival Palais of one of the European films selected for Cannes’ Official Competition.

Before this, Vassiliou will join the Members of the European Parliament Doris Pack, Stavros Lambinidis and Piotr Borys in attending the annual Europa Cinemas Network Meeting in Cannes on Saturday, May 14. Items on the agenda include 20 Years of Media: programme deadlines and challenges and a presentation of the European Parliament’s report on European cinema in the digital era.

In keeping with the MEDIA Programme’s 20th anniversary, the Cannes Film Festival has appropriately selected 20 MEDIA-supported  films in its various sections this year, including new films by Pedro Almodovar, Lars von Trier, Aki Kaurismäki as well as Michael Radford, Alice Rohrwacher, and Urszula Antoniak.