LYON, France — As part of its efforts to improve the distribution and cross-border consumption of European film, the European Commission on Thursday unveiled its new directory of European films.
Presenting the project at the Lumière Film Festival in Lyon, Mariya Gabriel, the European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society, said the directory was the first concrete step of a collaborative project between the European Commission and filmmakers, producers, festival heads and other stakeholders.
Funded by the European Union’s Media Program and launched with the assistance of the European Audiovisual Observatory, the new directory will help professionals and non-professionals alike find information about European films and their availability online on video-on-demand services throughout the European Union.
Gabriel stressed that the directory was particularly vital now in the face of changing media consumption and the increasing dominance of streaming services. Making the distribution of European works a priority will create value beyond content, helping to spread Europe’s “common values and cement European identity,” she added.
“It is important to preserve these works together in a co-ordinated matter,” Gabriel said. “This tool will help everyone by making European films available.”
Indeed, in addition to providing the general public better visibility for European cinema across the European Union, the virtual cinematic archive will allow filmmakers to know the countries and services where their films are available on VOD. Distributors wishing to better exploit European films will be able to identify VOD services offering similar works and which may be interested in hosting their films. It will also allow VOD services to identify European films available online in other places which could be of interest to their audiences.
For public authorities, the directory can provide an indication of the legal supply of European films in the digital universe. It will allow support funds and film promotional agencies to know whether the films they support are actually available and being exported to other member states. The directory will also provide watchdogs with a tool to help monitor the implementation of the E.U.’s recent directive mandating a 30% quota for European works on on-demand services.
At present, just 25% of films offered by VOD services in the E.U. are European. While there are national film data bases among the E.U.’s member states, none exist at the European level, despite Europe’s role as a major player in world cinema. Europe produced more than 18,000 films between 2007 and 2016 and, from 2007 to 2016, its global production volume increased by 47%, from 1,444 to 2,124 feature films, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory.
The film directory is still at a prototype stage and currently includes data on 35,000 films from 115 VOD services. The launch of the beta version is planned for spring of next year, with the definitive version due at the end of 2019.
“The creation of this tool opens doors and creates hope,” said Institut Lumière president Bertrand Tavernier, one of the members of the advisory group working with Gabriel on the project. The directory, he added, will create greater awareness about European cinema in Europe.
“It’s not just about commercial prospects, it’s about civilization and culture. Hopefully with this new directory will come directives for exploitation of works and for artists to be adequately paid for their works. I have to quote Clint Eastwood in telling Commissioner Gabriel: You made my day.”
Filmmaker Radu Mihaileanu, likewise an advisory group member, hailed the directory as “an amazing opportunity in a time of revolution. We are going through a digital audio-visual revolution and we are fortunate to have this project.”
Mihaileanu added that it was a massive step, along with the European Parliament’s recent decision to promote European content with the 30% quota.
“It demonstrates that European identity is important. We should not be shy. Europe represents democracy, freedom of thought, diversity – diversity is a value of civilization. This is our wealth,” he said.
He added: “Other players in the world, such as the United States, inundate us with their content, with their thinking. We should not hesitate to export our values – democracy, diversity and freedom of thought – through cinema.”