Creative Europe would fold in old programs

The proposed revamping of key European Commission film programs is getting a boost at Berlin.

Androulla Vassiliou, European commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth, talked up the commission’s proposal for its new Creative Europe program at the Berlinale on Sunday.

Creative Europe would bring together the current culture, media and Media Mundus programs and include a new financial facility to improve access to coin for small- and medium-sized enterprises and organizations in the cultural and creative sectors.

The European Parliament and the Council of Ministers are expected to vote on the proposal next year, and while it enjoys support from the former, it could face difficulties with the latter in view of the ongoing economic crisis.

Vassiliou, however, stresses that the entire cultural sector makes a significant contribution to jobs and growth, representing 4.5% of total European GDP and accounting for some 3.8% of the workforce.

Creative Europe has a proposed budget of €1.8 billion ($2.37 billion) for 2014-20. Of that, some $1.2 billion would be allocated to the Media Program, representing an increase of more than 20%. The Media Program has a seven-year budget of $996 million through 2013 aimed at supporting Europe’s film industry, with a focus on film development, promotion and distribution as part of its mission to support competition and cultural diversity.

For the European film industry, EU funding is essential in supporting pan-continental distribution of films, European productions abroad and offering incentives to European and international arthouse theaters that showcase European movies.

The funding initiatives also generate revenue. The commission claims that every euro ($1.31) invested in the Europa Cinemas chain, for example, generates $15 in revenue, and outside Europe, every euro invested in the Europa Cinema Intl. chain generates $22.42 of revenue.

“Europe can provide significant added value through targeted investment in the audiovisual and cultural sectors, which are important contributors to growth and jobs,” Vassiliou said. “Creative Europe will help the European film industry to respond to the challenges of digitization and globalization, while at the same time helping us to safeguard and promote Europe’s cultural and linguistic diversity.”

Among the nearly 400 international films unspooling at the Berlinale, 18 European productions are supported by the Media Program, including competition screeners such as Declan Donnellan and Nick Ormerod’s “Bel ami,” Nikolaj Arcel’s “A Royal Affair,” Antonio Chavarrias’ “Childish Games,” Ursula Meier’s “Sister,” Spiros Stathoulopoulos’ “Meteora” and “Shadow Dancer,” by James Marsh.

It also bankrolls initiatives such as the EFP’s Shooting Stars event at Berlin to the tune of $660,000 – 50% of its total budget – as well as the Berlinale Co-Production Market and the Talent Campus, while Media Mundus, which helps the European industry abroad, is supporting the new Berlinale Residency fellowship program.

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