Euro pic biz urges EU coin for local distribs

BRUSSELS — Representatives of the European film industry have issued an appeal to the European Commission and EU member states to change the allocation of loans to Euro distribs under the Media II program, the EU’s audiovisual umbrella.

Under the new-look Media II, which started up this year, the guidelines on distribution have been changed to exclude loans for distribution of national films in their own countries.

According to Philippe Kern, spokesman for the European Film Companies’ Alliance (EFCA), which includes Polygram, Chargeurs and Bertelsmann, ”Films are largely exported to other European countries on the back of domestic box office successes. Funding should be made available to support initial distribution so as to enhance the marketability of films in other territories.”

According to the rules of the program, which runs from 1996 to 2000, distribs can apply for repayable loans out of the Media II fund to support the distribution of Euro pics. However, a new condition stipulates that funds will only be available to those distribs that handle films produced in another EU country.

The EFCA believes this measure will hinder pan-European distribution of pics. ”The local distributor is responsible for the initial marketing of a film and is the main point of contact with the film production companies. He is therefore a key link for other European distributors. He should not be discriminated against by being deprived of funding.”

Media II, which has an overall budget of is $405 million, is designed to focus on a more limited number of areas than its predecessor (Media I), namely training, development and distribution. It is intended to boost the competitiveness of the EU audiovisual industry in Europe and other markets by supporting product with real commercial potential.

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