Berlinale: MPAA CEO Charles Rivkin Praises U.S.-E.U. Collaboration in Keynote

In a battle-cry for unity, Rivkin stressed that any move towards a single digital market in Europe must still allow creativity to thrive

Charles Rivkin
Ian Langsdon/EPA/REX/Shutterstoc

MPAA chairman-CEO Charles Rivkin delivered a keynote talk Thursday Feb. 15, at the 68th Berlin Film Festival, addressing an audience composed primarily of members of the German Producers Alliance, celebrating the organization’s 10th anniversary.

Collaboration was a key theme throughout the address: Rivkin stressed the importance of cross-border relationships within the European film and TV industries, not only in a creative setting, but as a means of fighting for sterner copyright and IP protections.

“I am proud that in June 2017, the MPAA helped bring together 30 leading content creators,” he recalled, “including Germany’s own Constantin Film and Studio Babelsberg, to form the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment.”

Since then, the global agency has stood together in support for the current funding models based on territory-by-territory sales, and stressed it’s importance in fostering important cross-border collaborations.

Rivkin argued that the Digital Single Market, projected by the European Commission, the executive arm of the E.U, as a move towards a more unified digital market in Europe, must be built in a way that will help creativity thrive; in his experience territorial exclusivity is vital to that end.

“I led a production company that relied on exclusive territorial pre-sales to finance our productions,” he recalled, “I know that exclusivity is the lifeblood of our industry.” Prior to his time in government, Rivkin served as president-CEO for the Jim Henson Company and CEO for Wildbrain.

The keynote speaker then brought his argument to the doorstep of every person working in the German film and TV industries: “In total, our sector generates more than €24 billion [$29.4  billion]  in economic activity in this country, and contributes €914 billion ($1.1 trillion) to the entire European GDP.”

According to Rivkin, each one of those individuals, and every Euro is exposed to real threat by changes, if they were to take place, to Europe’s current territory-by-territory sales model.

The speech came in the middle of a three-day German tour for Rivkin, which saw him visit Studio Babelsberg, the country’s oldest production studio and give a speech to the German Home Entertainment Trade Body. Riven will talk on Friday, co-hosted by the MPA for Europe, Middle East and Africa and law firm Morrison & Foerster, where one topic of the day will be animation. It’s an appropriate follow-up to the opening night world premiere of Wes Anderson’s “Ilse of Dogs.”

In a sign of the ramp-up of Germany’s production sector as a whole, the German Producers Alliance’s membership has grown from 80 to more than 250 members in it’s first decade.

Rivkin shined a light on the example set by the Alliance: “You have become a powerful voice for Germany’s artists and storytellers, and a vital partner of the global film and television industry I am proud to represent.”