The 15th annual Beaune Film Forum wrapped on Sunday after aweekend rife with discussion and debate surrounding Thursday's UNESCO vote onthe Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of CulturalExpressions.

The UNESCO decision, opposed by only the United States and Israel, givesmember states the ability to promote and protect their cultural identity.

A panel of experts convened on Friday including French culture ministerRenaud Donnedieu de Vabres and Motion Picture Association of America presidentDan Glickman to discuss the convention which will require 30 votes to beratified.

The main source of contention is that the UNESCO move may lead to theimposition of film quotas to protect local industries. Fears were also raised that the treaty is"ambiguous", according to Glickman, particularly in relation to the World TradeOrganization. He told ScreenDaily.comthat "the situation must be monitored."

During the debate, Glickman noted that his first official visit outsidethe US as thenewly installed MPAA head was to Beaune last year. "I think that first visithere was the honeymoon, this one is more like being married for ten or 15years."

He noted: "The MPA believes in the value of diversity. Culturaldiversity is good for business." But, he said, "our concern is that theconvention, on the face of it is more about trade than cultural diversity.UNESCO should not regulate trade."

In high spirits when opening the debate, culture minister Donnedieu deVabres said it was with "immense pride and total conviction," that he welcomedthe vote on the convention. However, he did note that the possibility ofopening up France'ssubsidy system to non-European producers was still on the table.

The rest of the weekend forum set in the bucolic Burgundy town washighlighted by discussions on the Television Without Borders directive whichended with filmmakers asking, notably, for a contribution to production frominternet service providers and that online film catalogues have a minimumnumber of European television works

Agreement has also been reached on a gradual warning system againstonline piracy between Internet service providers and the film industry it waslearned over the weekend. Offenders will be notified via a three step systemwhich will see a first warning email followed by a registered letter andfinally fines. A global accord should be reached within a few days according toCNC head Cayla.

The CNC also published a report on piracy which noted that 37.9% offilms released in the period August 2004-July 2005 were pirated on theInternet. Of those, 26.4% were French with 72.7% American. Most of the pirated copies were available, itwas noted, prior to the local video release. Interestingly, fewer films were camcordeddirectly inside theatres with more of the pirating coming from other sources.

It was reported that the video market has surged 20% in terms of volumeover the first nine months of 2005. However, this was at a loss of 5% in termsof cash. DVD revenue remained stable, up 1%, while VHS tumbled by 71.4%. Frenchfilms bumped up to 23.5% of the market while American films dropped by 15.5%.