EU seeks players’ audiovisual advice

Reding keen on synergies with Media Plus

BRUSSELS — The European Union is inviting bankers and professionals from the audiovisual industry to a meeting in Cannes on Thursday to examine how European cinema should be funded in the future.

“I am not happy that Europe produces more films than the United States but 75% of cinema takings in Europe are for American films,” said Viviane Reding, European commissioner for culture and audiovisual policy. “I am not happy to see talented young people and young entrepreneurs from the audiovisual industry cross the Atlantic because they can find no funding in Europe.”

At the top of the agenda will be i2i Audiovisual, which will provide $524 million to the European audiovisual sector over the next three years.

I2i provides loans for medium- and long-term investment in infrastructure, such as studios, digitalization facilities and broadcasting stations as well as production and distribution. The initiative also provides “global loans” to the banking sector specializing in audiovisual finance and supports shareholdings in risk-capital funds specializing in the sector.

Reding is also keen to establish where synergies can be achieved with the EU’s other major audiovisual funding program, Media Plus, which will hand out $350 million to the industry between 2001-05. Earlier incarnations of the program supported the making of Shekhar Kapur’s “Elizabeth” and Damien O’Donnell’s Brit comedy “East Is East.”

The EU program also has funded promotion and distribution campaigns for more than 400 European films including Oscar winners “Life Is Beautiful,” by Roberto Benigni, and “All About My Mother,” by Pedro Almodovar.