Barroso pleas for greater focus on emotional side of continent
09/06/2009 - Twenty leading directors, writers, actors, producers, distributors and education professionals met with José Manuel Barroso, president of the European Commission, to exchange their views on the impact that images and cinema have on European identity and the way Europeans identify with their home continent.
The president, who accepted the invitation of the European Film Academy (EFA) to take the meeting under his patronage, stated that the European Union is perceived by many citizens “mainly as an economic union” and demanded that “we have to concentrate more on the emotional side of Europe.”
The meeting took place during The Image of Europe, a think tank organised by the EFA in Ruhr, Germany (the 2010 European Capital of Culture), with the support of the Filmstiftung North Rhine-Westphalia and RUHR.2010.
On the invitation of Wim Wenders and Volker Schlöndorff, participants discussed a variety of issues, such as the growing damage wrought by piracy and distribution problems outside a film’s country of origin. Said Wenders: “There’s a new cinema by a young and optimistic generation that is moving freely across the borderless continent. Only their brilliant films don’t travel as much as the filmmakers do.”
It was unanimously agreed that film can play an enormous role in the way European citizens relate to their home continent and that a sensitivity towards other cultures and countries keeps alive the spirit of diversity and creates an appreciation for the richness of European culture. Schlöndorff emphasised that it is time to “consider another lingua franca, the language of images.”
The discussions have led participants to call onto the member states of the European Union to include film, like literature, in the school curricula. As well as to teach students from primary school on, who live in a world dominated by images, about the grammar of the moving image just as they are taught the grammar of the written word.
The EFA think tank’s participants – which included Constantin Costa-Gavras, Agnieszka Holland, Marjane Satrapi, István Szabó and Fernando Trueba – offered the European Commission their help in shaping the future of European cinema as part of European identity. They will act as ambassadors in their respective countries to spread the content and results of this meeting.
Wenders and Schlöndorff declared that the EFA is ready to assume a major role in contributing to the development of a pan-European programme for film education and to explore other paths and tools that may help shaping the “emotional side of Europe”.