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Coin hasn’t solved EU film biz woes

Reding pledges new aid, 'positive discrimination'

LUXEMBOURG — A European Union culture topper has admitted the org has a long way to go in solving the problems of the film industry across the region despite generously funded media programs spanning many years.

At a three-day seminar that ended here Tuesday, Viviane Reding, commissioner for the EU’s Information Society and Media Directorate, admitted the EU had failed to address a shopping list of needs and disparities between the film industries of new and older members.

“Some countries barely have a national film industry,” said Reding, who pledged new aid and “positive discrimination” for new member states.

The seminar suggested a slew of changes to the Media 2007 program, the EU’s audiovisual coin subsid, which could have as much as E1 billion ($1.4 billion) to hand out from 2007 to 2013 if its budget and the seminar’s other recommendations are passed by EU Council of Ministers in May. That figure is up on the $659 million given to the org between 2001 and end 2006.

Unlike other events of this kind, the seminar was aimed at giving a crash course to policy and decision makers in the 25 EU territories.

Recommendations from the three workshops attended by some 140 delegates, had a strong sense of deja vu, particularly criticism from two workshops, the first on developing, the second on marketing and promotion, that commercial films are still not being made.

Denmark is one of the few Euro countries with a strong local film industry supported by auds. Danish Film Institute CEO Henning Camre noted that the 750 films produced in Europe in 2004 took a meager single-digit percentage of the combined market outside their home territories. “When you see that, you have to surmise that the European film industry is still not thinking about their audiences.”

“The feeling is that we have too many films and we are not making films that are properly developed,” said Jonathan Davis, strategy adviser for the U.K. Film Council, summarizing a major finding of the development seminar.

Rolf Christians, exec producer for Magma was more brutal, suggesting subsidies should be paid to producers not to make films.

Danny Krause of Dor Film in Austria implored new regs not require films “which are perfectly awful” be put on a screen just because they’ve received funding.

Keynote speaker Fred Kogel, CEO of Constantin Film, expressed a scathing impatience with the continued branding of so-called “Euro film” as a cultural industry. “We should be focusing not on the cultural but on the financial aspects of the business,” he said, adding national incentives “need to be harmonized.”

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