(L-R:): Marine Francen (SRF), Radu Mihaileanu, Laure de Clermont Tonnerre in Cannes

Source: Sofia Norlin

(L-R:): Marine Francen (SRF), Radu Mihaileanu, Laure de Clermont Tonnerre in Cannes

With the parallel WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes still in full swing across the Atlantic, France and Italy’s top filmmakers guilds have come together to show solidarity and reinforce auteur rights with a joint ’declaration of filmmakers’ and have announced a September 3 symposium in Venice.

French film organisations the ARP (the guild for writers-directors-producers) and directors’ guild the SRF, behind Directors’ Fortnight, spearheaded the initiative.

They wrote the original “declaration of filmmakers” open letter in May calling for full authorship rights, fair redistribution of revenues and immediate regulation of AI, before hosting a debate during Cannes with Unifrance and l’Institut Francais.

The “Declaration of Filmmakers – Act II” is planned for September 3 at 2 pm at the Lido, this time alongside Italian guilds including Writers Guild Italia (WGI), 100autori who represent film and TV directors and screenwriters, and National Filmmakers association ANAC (Associazione Nazionale Autori Cinematografici).

The event is organised in partnership with Venice’s parallel section Giornate degli autori whose 20th edition runs alongside the festival from August 30–September 9.

Organisers said the Venice meeting aims to continue the debate sparked in Cannes “with colleagues from all over the world who, back in their home countries, have convinced their organizations to sign the Declaration, to fight for the affirmation of the principles it contains, and to support the screenwriters, directors and actors who are on strike in the USA for the same demands”.

The original “Declaration of Filmmakers” was signed by 500 industry figures from France and across the globe and has reached nearly 800 to date, the SRF confirmed to Screen. Signatories include Jacques Audiard, Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Costa-Gavras, Claire Denis, Christophe Honoré and Claude Lelouch, plus 2023 Venice competitors Bertrand Bonello and Stephane Brizé.

Head of the SRF Rosalie Brun told Screen that the guild is “in complete solidarity” with the writers and actors striking in the US even if, she admitted, “authors’ rights are more protected in France, but we have similar concerns, and our system doesn’t allow us to strike in the same way”.

Brun said the Venice event is “another occasion to express our solidarity” and said a third event was in the works for the Berlin Film Festival in February 2024.

The Venice event will be moderated by Italian filmmaker and ANAC president Francesco Ranieri Martinotti. French directors Marine Francen, ARP VP Radu Mihaileanu, Palestinian filmmaker Nawja Najjar and Italy’s Giacomo Durzi and Giorgio Glaviano are among the first participants of the still-evolving list of names set for the seminar. Marco Bellocchio, Cédric Klapisch and former WGA president Howard A. Rodman will also participate via video.

In a statement, Martinotti called the strikes “a form of resistance by authors that cannot be tackled solely at national level, requiring an international perspective and a strategic alliance with ‘real’ independent producers”.

Mihaileanu said, “Our fight is not just about defending cinema or culture. It’s a societal and civilizational battle, a crucial moment in our history.” She added, “AI as a tool in the service of Man, yes; AI as master of Man, no, and master of thought, never!”

100autori and vice chairman of Giornate degli autori Giacomo Durzi called the current context “a clear crisis in the audiovisual industry” and said, “We need to rethink the production and distribution model, improve the conditions for a system that makes us happy and satisfied, and fight for authors to be at the heart of the creative and industrial process in Europe too.”

In July, the ARP and SRF expressed their “full solidarity” with US unions WGA and SAG-AFTRA in their ongoing strikes in a joint statement that called the parallel strikes “the sign of a major turning point” and said, “This battle, which is shaping the industry of tomorrow, crosses borders. It is ours too,” vowing to “continue to strive for a fair industry, where creative diversity can flourish”.

The Venice event will be held at the Italian Pavilion at the Excelsior Hotel and will be open to accredited industry professionals.