×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

New European Film Academy Chairman Mike Downey to Reach Out to Other Film Academies (EXCLUSIVE)

Irish producer Mike Downey, who was recently elected as chairman of the board of the European Film Academy, has told Variety that he’d like to work more closely with other film academies, including the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, as well as continuing EFA’s work as a campaigner for persecuted filmmakers.

Downey, CEO of Film and Music Entertainment, had previously served as EFA’s deputy chairman, and takes the baton as chairman from Polish director Agnieszka Holland, who has been at the helm for the past six years.

He told Variety: “I’ve just returned from the Asia Pacific Screen Awards, run by our sister organization the Asia Pacific Screen Academy. We have much in common and support many of the same principles and goals. I’d like to reach out to our colleagues around the world, in Asia, the U.S. – and along with our European colleagues build on the things that we have in common and share rather than the things that separate us.”

As well as supporting and promoting European films and filmmakers, he said he wanted his mandate to be “marked by a continuation of our campaigning work in the service of filmmakers at risk.” Downey and Holland had worked tirelessly to free Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, who was held in a Russian jail for five years. Sentsov, who was freed in September as part of a prisoner swap, appeared onstage on Saturday at the European Film Awards in Berlin.

Popular on Variety

Downey said: “It is time to take stock. Learn from this experience, of when the freedom of artists and filmmakers is arbitrarily taken away, and use that experience to know how to react if something like this happens again in the future.”

He added that – for this reason – EFA, along with the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam and the International Film Festival Rotterdam, is “joining forces to create the International Coalition for Filmmakers at Risk, a permanent organization aimed at supporting filmmakers facing political persecution for their work.”

He said: “The body will advocate for film professionals who have been imprisoned, face prosecution or censorship for their work and views. The final framework is still being developed but its remit would include running coordinated campaigns publicizing the cases of filmmakers in peril as well as providing support, legal representation and whatever is needed to get the artist to the safest possible place at that time.”

He said that “whenever an attack on the freedom of filmmakers takes place,” EFA must “react with speed, precision and compassion” to support them, and “in doing so demonstrate that these kind of abuses will not pass without a vigorous response.”

He also said his mission would be “to make all aspects of sustainability not only of EFA itself but also the European film industry a priority” and “to extend the idea of gender balance, not just concentrating on the director of a film, but on supporting and encouraging gender balance across the board in every department.”

As a result of the board elections, Downey is joined by two new deputies, British producer Rebecca O’Brien, Ken Loach’s producing partner, and Romanian producer Ada Solomon (“Child’s Pose,” “Aferim!”). Other board members elected include Icelandic director Baltasar Kormákur (“Adrift”), Oscar nominated Irish director Jim Sheridan (“In the Name of the Father,” “My Left Foot”), and Polish producer Ewa Puszczyńska, an Oscar winner with “Ida.”

The full EFA board, as of Jan. 1, 2020, is as follows:
Chairman:
Mike Downey, producer, Ireland

Deputy chairwomen:
Rebecca O’Brien, producer, UK
Ada Solomon, producer, Romania

Board members:
Graziella Bildesheim, institutional, Italy
Àngela Bosch Rius, producer, Spain
Tilde Corsi, producer, Italy
Valérie Delpierre, producer, Spain
Mike Goodridge, producer, UK
Vanessa Henneman, talent agent, Netherlands
Anita Juka, producer, Croatia
Henning Kamm, producer, Germany
Baltasar Kormákur, director, Iceland
Christophe Leparc, festival, France
Ewa Puszczyńska, producer, Poland
Katriel Schory, institutional, Israel
Jim Sheridan, director, Ireland
Joanna Szymańska, producer, Poland
Béatrice Thiriet, composer, France
Ira von Gienanth, producer/distributor, Germany

More Film

  • I Carry You With Me Sundance

    Sony Pictures Classics Buys 'I Carry You With Me' Out of Sundance (EXCLUSIVE)

    Sony Pictures Classics has teamed with Sony’s Stage 6 Films to nab global rights to Heidi Ewing’s feature narrative debut “I Carry You With Me (Te Llevo Conmigo),” a gay love story about two men who immigrate to the United States. The deal follows the film’s enthusiastic reception at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. The [...]

  • 2020 Oscar Presenters: Zazie Beetz, Timothée

    Timothée Chalamet, Zazie Beetz, Gal Gadot Join List of 2020 Oscar Presenters

    Show producers Lynette Howell Taylor and Stephanie Allain have announced additional presenters for the 92nd Academy Awards telecast. Zazie Beetz, Timothée Chalamet, Will Ferrell, Gal Gadot, Mindy Kaling, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Anthony Ramos, Mark Ruffalo, Kelly Marie Tran and Kristen Wiig will be presenting statuettes during the evening’s ceremony. Though none are nominated for [...]

  • Palm Springs

    'Palm Springs': Film Review

    There are far worse places to be stuck for eternity than Palm Springs. Like Punxsutawney, the town Bill Murray can’t escape in “Groundhog Day,” for example. So many copycat time-loop movies have come along in the 27 years since that each new imitator can’t help sounding like a broken record, which is what makes Max [...]

  • American cinematographer Robert Richardson (L) and

    Poland to Build $200 Million Cinema Institution in Toruń

    Poland is setting up a new national cinema institution, named the European Film Center Camerimage, to be housed in a new building in Toruń at a cost of almost $200 million, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025. The director of the new body is Kazik Suwala, former office director of the Camerimage Film [...]

  • Into the Deep Review

    'Into the Deep': Film Review

    Documentary filmmaker Emma Sullivan was already there when inventor Peter Madsen’s submarine, the UC3 Nautilus, went missing off the coast of Copenhagen in August 2017, with journalist Kim Wall on board. Sullivan had been filming Madsen, a hobbit-y egotist with electric blue eyes, for 18 months, and until that day, she believed she was making [...]

  • China leads the world in volume

    China Suspends Film Shoots Across the Country as Coronavirus Epidemic Worsens

    The largest film studio on the planet, China’s Hengdian World Studios, has announced it will shut down indefinitely, as productions in other parts of the country also announce they are closing up shop in light of the worsening coronavirus epidemic.  On Monday, the local government management committee in charge of the experimental industrial zone where [...]

  • Kobe Bryant Oscar Win Dear Basketball

    Academy Planning Kobe Bryant Tribute During Oscar Ceremonies

    The Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences will include a tribute to the late basketball icon Kobe Bryant during the 92nd Academy Awards ceremony on Feb. 9. “We can confirm that he will be acknowledged in the telecast,” an Academy representative told Variety. Bryant will be included in the In Memoriam montage of film [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content