Europeans to huddle on tech, prod issues

Conferences skedded for Venice, Taormina

Italy, now head of the European Union, will launch two major conferences to deal with common concerns of member countries.

One, concerning new technologies and digital cinema, will be held at the beginning of the Venice Intl. Film Festival; the second, about film co-productions, will occur during the Nov. 14-16 Taormina fest.

Jack Valenti, prexy of the MPA, has been invited to attend the new-tech meet and present U.S. policies on piracy.

Event will also be attended by film ministers from EU member states.

“Piracy is an issue on which the U.S. and Europe shares a common ground,” said Italian director general for cinema Gianni Profita. “Digital cinema distribution could allow far wider distribution for European films.”

The November conference will have more of an economic and legal emphasis.

“The aim is to make co-production easier for producers and, while respecting diversity in Europe, encourage a stronger industry,” Profita says.

The conference will also focus on developing the EU Media film support program, which will kick off in 2006.

At Cannes, the Italian government has made moves on reciprocal distribution agreements with the U.K., Spain and Australia.

It has sealed a pact with the U.K.’s Film Council to jointly support the release of three or four Italian pics in the U.K. this year and the same number of Brit pics in Italy through state-owned distrib- Instituto Luce.

Italy and Spain look set to ink a similar accord.

The Australian Film Commission and Italian government are also in talks for reciprocal distribution of a select number of pics in each other’s country.

Italy’s culture and arts minister Giuliano Urbani and India’s minister for information, broadcasting and communication Ravi Shankar Prasad inked an agreement Saturday for the exchange of producers and students and organization of national pic showcases.

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