Source: Venice Film Festival


Europe’s film and TV sector is working out the impact of last week’s European Parliament elections on audiovisual funding and policy across the region where far-right parties made major gains. 

Although the traditional centrist coalition is expected to maintain a majority, the influx of far-right MEPs could impact film and audiovisual policy. 

European Producers Club managing director Alexandra Lebret believes centrist policies will still play a significant role in EU governance. “We all think [centrist MEPS] will continue to defend the importance of cultural diversity, and recognise the high value of the role of independent production companies,” she said.

However, a European policy expert speaking to Screen on condition of anonymity fears the rightwards tilt of the European Parliament could see cultural spending being “hijacked” for political purposes with a focus on patriotic, national storytelling.

This has happened already in countries such as Hungary, Poland and Italy, with the latter soon to launch a €52m fund for local film and series which tell Italian stories with international breadth and scope. (“We want to push Italian producers to try and tell stories…about [subjects like] the Guccis or Ferraris, maybe making co-productions but where the Italians are in there,” Lucia Borgonzoni, undersecretary of state to the ministry of culture, told Screen this week.)

Robert Heslop, secretary general at the International Federation of Film Distributors’ and Publishers’ Associations (FIAD), said he is encouraged strong champions for the film ecosystem are returning to the European Parliament, such as Renew MEP Laurence Farreng. He also noted MEP Sabine Verheyen has been re-elected; she served as chairwoman of the Committee on Culture and Education in the previous parliament. It’s unclear if she will again chair the committee, but Heslop said it is welcome news to have “such a strong advocate for the film and AV sector back in Brussels.”

Another senior, well-placed European executive told Screen he “strongly believes” EU-level policies will not change much as a result of elections regarding issues such as piracy, authors rights, artificial intelligence through to support for European collaboration and co-productions. “It might not be as easy as before, but I am not worried.”

The awkward reality is the rise of right-wing politicians obsessed with national storytelling could actually mean greater financial support for some local industries. To preserve national industries, the right may also favour maintaining geoblocking for the audiovisual sector which would be welcomed by the audiovisual sector.

Still, most European executives to whom Screen has spoken, were keen to put the election results in perspective. “They are actually much better than we were bracing ourselves for. This surge to the right and far-right hasn’t quite materialised as it could have. It could have been much worse,” said one.

The centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) stood its ground and remains the largest group in the European Parliament, while the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) remain the second biggest bloc. The centrist Renew Europe group, however, lost seats but will remain a key player in the coalition. 

Even though the right-wing European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and the far-right Identity and Democracy (ID) groups made substantial gains, this does not seem to threaten the overall dominance of the centrist and centre-right blocs.

The most serious consequence of the European elections is the decision by president Emmanuel Macron to call a snap election in France. If Marine Le Pen’s National Rally party repeats its European performance on home turf, the result could be “hugely dangerous” for the entire European film and TV industry, said one executive.

There are fears the far-right party could dismantle, or at least “de-prioritise” France’s uniquely supportive and generous funding ecosystem for filmmakers.

“France flies the flag for culture for the whole of Europe in the global context. If there is a far-right government in France, it is serious for everyone,” said the executive.