A coalition of film professionals from the EU’s new Member States is likely to be one of the results of the Audiovisual Summit in Warsaw this week.
Tentatively called New Europe Coalition (NEC), the initiative aims to raise the profile of the new Member States and their audiovisual industries within political institutions on national and European level, with public broadcasters and in the European film industry at large.
“We are completely dissipated and the visibility of our countries is not what it used to be - or should be - so there is a need to work together,” said Hrvoje Hribar, CEO of the Croatian Audiovisual Centre, at the end of the two-day event.
In addition, Polish producer-director Dariusz Jablonski (Apple Film) announced that a follow-up meeting to take the next step and launch NEC would be held during next February’s Berlinale at the offices of Scripteast.
A series of recommendations were drawn from the discussions in the plenum and four working groups such as calling for the introduction of a special scheme under Creative Europe’s MEDIA sub-programme for the distribution of films from Central and Eastern Europe as well as recruiting experts from the New Europe for MEDIA’s training programmes.
“The invited experts often have little experience or knowledge of the realities of the film industries in New Europe. They are not using experts from our countries and use case studies and business models from Western Europe, so our professionals cannot benefit fully from these programmes,” a workshop coordinator explained.
In addition, looking at the relationship between the film industry and public broadcasters in the new Member States, there was a call to lobby for the introduction of legislation committing the TV stations to invest in film production.
Lithuania and Estonia join EFP
Renate Rose, managing director of Hamburg-based European Film Promotion (EFP), revealed in Warsaw that Lithuania and Estonia have become individual members of the pan-European film promotion organisation.
Until now, these two countries – and Latvia – had been a member of EFP under the Baltic Films umbrella.
“About two months ago, Baltic Films decided that each country is free to become an individual member of EFP,” Rose told ScreenDaily. “So far, Lithuania and Estonia applied for membership, and this was approved by our members meeting in November.”
As to the question of whether Latvia was going to take out EFP membership, Rose stressed: “We do not approach countries directly to become members, it is up to them to decide when the time is right.”
During the Warsaw summit, Rose spoke about a new project which is being developed at EFP and will be applying for MEDIA support.
“We want to build up a website where you can find recommendations for European films and see what is available on the platforms because they don’t really promote the films,” she explained.
“People in the VoD world tell us that 75% of the films available on the VoD platforms are never seen and don’t find their audience. We want to try and change that.”
Audience building for European cinema
Another initiative for promoting European cinema and expanding its circulation potential under the new Creative Europe programme was unveiled at the summit by MEDIA executive Irina Orssich.
The European Commission is keen to support audience building events for European film which could be held at the traditional venue of the cinema, but just as easily be staged in an opera, or a museum or swimming pool, or online.
Orssich explained that these film events would put their programme together from a catalogue of specified titles: “These titles should either have been nominated or shortlisted for the European Film Awards, be nominated or winners at the national film awards, and the same goes for the Academy Awards.
“They can be films selected for ‘A’ festivals or be among the three most popular national films during the last 12 months. In effect, Europe’s finest.
“Each project should aim at having at least 10 films from this catalogue coming from at least five different territories participating in MEDIA, and there should be different venues for these events in at least four territories.”
The two-day event was attended by professionals from the 12 Member States which have joined the EU since 2004, including producers Riina Sildos (Estonia), Danijel Hocevar (Slovenia), Patrik Pass (Slovakia), Rasa Miskinyte (Lithuania), Screen International’s Best Pitch Award winners Uljana Kim and Kristijonas Vildziunas (Lithuania) as well as film funders from Latvia, Poland, Hungary, Malta, Cyprus, and East-West co-production market organisers such as Bernd Buder (Connecting Cottbus) and Alessandro Gropplero (When East Meets West).