Agnieszka holland

Image: Agnieszka Holland

Source: Berlin Film Festival

In a wide-ranging keynote on the challenges facing Europe’s filmmakers in the current political climate, European Film Awards (EFA) chair person Agnieszka Holland yesterday had some critical observations about the state of European cinema.

¨When I watch European cinema of the last two decades, I have the impression that we have been lazy, that European cinema with all its qualities and talents, artistic freedom and institutional and state support, didn’t generate a real movement, intellectually or artistically,¨ she suggested.

¨We didn’t ask ourselves who we are, where we are, what we want to tell, whom we want to speak with, and what is our main aim when we are deciding to do our movies. And unfortunately the effect of this was the lack of interest in European cinema from the global general audience.¨

¨Our challenge is to open up to a wider audience but this can only work if we touch on subjects and the fears of the audience in a way that isn’t reactive or imitative, but provocative and inspiring,¨ Holland observed.

Looking at the situation in Eastern and Western Europe, she pointed out that ¨the really inspired and inspiring cinema comes from breaking the rules and not accepting the rule.¨

She suggested that EFA could set up a think thank to analyse and come up with solutions for the future of distribution and production of European cinema. ¨We have to open up to television and VoD, this is a reality we cannot ignore anymore because otherwise we’ll finish up like Kodak.¨

EFA board appoints members

Israel Film Fund’s executive director Katriel Schory and Mike Goodridge, artistic director of the International Film Festival & Awards Macao (IFFAM), are among six newly elected members of the EFA board for the next two years.

They are joined on the 19-person board by Polish producer Joanna Szymanska (Walking Spark), French composer Béatrice Thiriet (The Song Of Scorpions), Graziella Bildesheim of MAIA Workshops, and Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur.

Meanwhile, chairperson Agnieszka Holland and deputy chairpersons Mike Downey and Antonio Saura were re-elected for another two years - 2018-2019 - as were producers Àngela Bosch Rius and Ada Solomon.

EFA President Wim Wenders was re-elected uncontested to the post for another five years from 2018-2022.

Producers - who make up 18% of the EFA’s 3,300-plus membership - are in the majority on the Academy’s board occupying 12 of the 19 seats.

Kosslick: ¨Culture first!¨ motto for European unity

Speaking on the eve of the 30th European Film Awards at Friday evening’s birthday reception in Berlin, the Berlinale’s Dieter Kosslick said that Polish director Krzysztof Kieslowski’s rhetorical question of ¨I hope Poland is actually part of Europe¨ at the first European Film Awards in 1988 had assumed a burning topicality 30 years later in the light of current developments in Poland (and at the Polish Film Institute, in particular).

¨This week we see how some East European governments are wanting to move film [funding] policy in the direction of national politics. In the end, it will not work. And we will not stop protesting against these kind of right-wing pressures, ¨ Kosslick declared.

¨Culture first - this is our motto: against nationalism, borders, racism and ideological powers, ¨ he continued. ¨ You may destroy our economic structures, but you cannot destroy our common cultural links and history.¨

¨Culture is essential for our life¨, Kosslick said, echoing the sentiments of Jean Monnet, one of the founding fathers of the European Union, who allegedly once said: ‘If I had to do it again, I would begin with culture’.

This was Kosslick’s first appearance before the international film community since his confirmation earlier in the week to State Minister for Culture and Media Monika Grütters that he would not be seeking any other post at the festival once his current contract comes to an end in May 2019.

MEDIA plans closer cooperation with European Film Academy

Meanwhile, Lucia Recalde Langarica, Creative Europe MEDIA’s Head of Unit, took the opportunity to announce that a closer collaboration is planned with EFA starting from next year.

MEDIA will support the 2018 Young Audience Award which is held each May at cities across Europe with voters aged between 12 and 14 screening three films before making their final decision. This year, Fatih Akin’s Goodbye Berlin was voted by the young audiences as their winner of the Young Audience Award.

In addition, MEDIA is looking to recruit the services of EFA, Europa Cinemas, European Film Promotion, UNIC and film schools to help spread the word about its EU Film Contest.

The initiative was launched for the first time this year to promote Europe’s unique diversity of films, TV programmes and video games to young Europeans, with 10 successful contestants winning a trip to the Cannes Film Festival last May.

¨We would also like to work with the Academy on gender diversity because clearly MEDIA has not done enough,¨ Recalde observed. ¨The Academy has proven to be a driving force in the industry and we look forward to working with you in future on promoting more women behind and in front of the camera.¨