As European Union money has helped several films being shown at the Cannes Festival, officials have put in an appearance there to discuss international film cooperation. National subsidies for film-making were also the subject of talks with some one dozen ministers responsible for audiovisual policy.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso’s presence was portrayed as a symbol of strong EU support for the sector. He said: “If we leave everything up to the market in a field like culture, we couldn’t help certain voices of expression, which might belong to very small minorities but are of great quality, and which are sometimes of the avant-guard.”
A future Media programme would aim to widen the circulation of audiovisual works made in the EU to countries outside Europe. EuroNews asked the Palme d’Or winner for 2007, Romanian director Christian Mungiu, who is patron of this Sixth Europe Day organised by the Cannes Festival, how he saw the future of European cinema. He said: “Because we produce a lot of films, the possibility of screening them and releasing them is not going to be that easy, and one of the most important things we need to figure out is piracy, because there is a lot of sympathy for what we do, but not always through means that would support the producing of other films later on… by buying them for example.”
The EU respects each country’s right to decide its own cultural policy, Brussels underscores that Media programme funding does not encroach on national domains of production funding, but concentrates on the distribution and promotion of European films. Media Commissioner Viviane Redding said: “This year, we wondered how European cinema is doing alongside other cinema, in other parts of the world, and so we’re going to look at some European maintenance outside Europe.”
Fourteen of the 22 films competing in Cannes enjoyed support from the Media Programme. Barosso called it “a powerful locomotive for the whole European cinema industry”, although the programme’s annual budget of some 100 million euros was less than for a single blockbuster from the USA.