Venice chief sets symposium to address artistic rights

Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo is continuing to lead the battle to preserve filmmakers’ rights abroad, having set aside two days during the upcoming Venice Film Festival (Aug. 31-Sept. 11) to conduct an international symposium to address the issue.

Gillo, who traveled through Los Angeles last week, said discussions with such directors as Robert Altman, Louis Malle and Martin Scorsese convinced him that filmmakers’ rights to preserve their work as art is greatly diminished in the United States and starting to erode in Europe.

Filmmakers disturbed

“These directors have the impression that their position as filmmakers is being lowered,” Gillo said, speaking through an interpreter.

Pontecorvo has decided to use the Venice fest as an anchor to address this problem, asking those directors and others to take part in the symposium (Sept. 6-7). The plan is to draft a proposal out of that symposium that would affect all countries in the European Community and be somewhat similar in scope to French copyright laws.

International tribunal

Gillo said he would also like to create an international tribunal consisting of filmmakers, Nobel Prize winners and people with “moral charisma” that would work on a continuing basis to preserve artists’ rights.

“This need to create more and more special effects in films do not tell anything about the human spirit,” he said. “We must preserve a filmmaker’s right to create an artistic film, one that examines the flaws and qualities of one single human being.”

Pontecorvo, best known for his 1966 “La Battaglia Di Algeri” (The Battle of Algiers), has been working with the U.S. Artists Rights Foundation, although he says that copyright problems differ between the U.S. and Europe.

Protecting art

“Authors’ rights are much stronger in Europe than in America,” he said. “The absurdity in America is that the one considered the author is the one who is the owner of the copyright.

“While I understand that the industry is driven by a legitimate interest in making money, they must also realize that cinema is also an art form. They have to find a way to combine these two needs.”

Pontecorvo said this will be his last year as director of the Venice festival.

“I must go back to being a film director,” he said.