The Swiss film community began an intiative during the current Berlin Film Festival to get back what they lost when the country voted against membership in the European Economic Area in December.

Earlier this week, the Swiss commission handed over a petition supporting a Swiss role in the European film community, with more than 400 signatures of filmmakers from all over Europe.

Directed toward the Media ’95 program, which provides a European network of subsidy funds and support in all areas of the film industry, the petition asks Media ’95 to renegotiate Swiss membership.

“The biggest immediate problem for us in losing Media ’95 is the EFDO program ,” said initiative-coordinator Corinne Kuenzli of Cine Suisse. EFDO gives support to distributors — in a small market like Switzerland, many distributors cannot afford indie features without outside help.

The size of the Swiss market also affects production, another area that will be hit hard. Producers depend greatly on outside partners — who will often only commit if the distribution side is in the package — to put together films more expensive than $ l million.

The upcoming Swiss-German-French co-production “Green Henry,” which cost $ 6. 5 million, is a case in point. “I might have gotten ‘Green Henry’ made without Media ’95,” said producer Peter Reichembach. “But it would have been much much harder. In the future, companies like mine will have to establish foreign arms to tap into the media system.”

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