Euro pic nods win OK

Awards to boost recognition of foreign films, thesps

BRUSSELS — EU culture ministers have backed plans to set up a European film awards designed to rival Hollywood’s Academy Awards.

The Euro awards would form part of Europe’s strategy to help Euro pics compete with US product, ensuring that Euro blockbusters like “The Full Monty” and acting talent like Helena Bonham Carter and Kate Winslet get their share of industry recognition and publicity.

Meeting in Brussels Thursday, national culture chiefs agreed they were open to the idea of beefed-up European film awards, based on existing European film awards, but benefiting from stronger EU support and cash.

Oscar-style awards

EU film industry execs have lobbied hard for a European Oscar style film award, and secured the backing of EU Commission President Jacques Santer earlier this year.

Michael Kuhn, president of Polygram, which has enjoyed success with Brit pics such as “Trainspotting” and “Four Weddings and a Funeral,” is a strong supporter of the plan. “We suggest that Europe creates a shop window to the world for its TV and movie production” he said. “Oscar and Emmy type awards ceremonies should be established in the EU to boost the marketing of films”.

High-profile focus

A spokesman for the culture ministers explained the prize would not try to compete with well known festivals such as Cannes, Berlin or Venice, but should serve as a high profile focus on European talent.

Michael Kuhn suggests that the ceremonies should be built around the already high profile Cannes film festival, while the Emmy style awards could be given out at one of the TV festival markets, possibly the MIP.

The European Commission welcomed the ministers’ decision, and announced that it would issue a formal proposal for the Euro awards — which will cover both film and television — by the end of this year.