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EU helps pics to cross borders

Media program extended to outside countries

BRUSSELS — The European Parliament intends to continue support for a pilot project extending the Media program to countries outside the European Union.

The first round of Media Intl., worth €2 million ($3.15 million) in 2008, has just closed to applications. Repeating the process in 2009 and 2010 requires annual approval.

The aim of Media Intl. is to expand the two-way flow of movies between the EU and other territories and to strengthen cooperation among audiovisual industries. The first round covered support for training, film distribution and cinema operators.

“Parliament is very happy with the initiative,” said Ruth Hieronymi, a deputy specializing in audiovisual policy, at a public hearing in Brussels on Wednesday. “We shall make available financial means in 2009 and 2010.”

Following this news, the European Commission said it would seek more coin from Parliament, which can award up to $7.9 million each year.

“Depending on the budget, we would hope to include some new activities, in particular festivals,” said Aviva Silver, who heads the EC unit running the Media program.

Festivals are considered important access points for films seeking distribution in foreign territories, but the existing Media program can only support those with at least 70% European titles. This effectively excludes fests specializing in international pics.

The public hearing discussed options for creating a permanent program after Media Intl. Tentatively called Media Mundus, it would, if approved, run begin to operate in 2011.

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