Europa Cinemas: Without cinemas, there is no healthy film culture
by Birgit Heidsiek
- CANNES 2015: The territoriality principle was also an issue at the Europa Cinemas assembly held in Cannes
Cinema in Europe will come first in the exhibition chain in the future, as Lucia Recalde Langarica, head of MEDIA at DG Education and Culture, pointed out at the Europa Cinemas assembly at Cannes. But this is not reflected in the Creative Europe programme, which is providing €1.46 billion for the audiovisual industry in Europe from 2014 to 2020. As Bogdan Wenta, Member of the European Parliament, stated in his recent report, there should be a stronger emphasis on the distribution and exhibition sector. While 69% of funding is reserved for creating films, 8.4% goes to distribution and 3.6% is spent on promotion.
But more than this, the Polish MEP raised questions over the point of copyright protection. The European Commission’s Digital Single Market strategy is sparking a lot of concerns in the industry, which is built on the principle of territoriality. “The fight for an audiovisual exception in the TTIP is an example of the industry’s voice having had an impact on the European Parliament,” declared Wenta. “Art is written with a capital A.”
“It is important for us that cinema exhibition be the cornerstone,” underlined Jan Runge, the spokesperson of the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC). “We need a digital market strategy against piracy.” He also believes the territoriality issue is important: “Without the territories, there won’t be any film financing, and nor will there be a theatrical window.”
“Our problem is not the territoriality principle, but the lack of awareness,” said Nico Simon, president of Europa Cinemas. “We don’t have a digital common market if there is no public awareness of a Greek film.” Nowadays, it is possible to make 1,600 films accessible to the public by showing them on VoD, explained Claude-Éric Poiroux, general director of Europa Cinemas – but there is no diversity. “There is more diversity in the cinema.” Timbuktu [+see also:
film profile] director Abderrahmane Sissako made his point of view clear: “The European Union has a responsibility to protect diversity.”
“Without cinemas, there is no healthy film culture,” summed up Madeleine Probst, vice-president of Europa Cinemas. “We are the key for all other platforms. It is a challenging time for cinemas.” In 2014, about 120 exhibitors participated in Europa Cinemas’ workshops, such as the Innovation Lab in Seville and the Bologna Audience Development and Innovation Lab.
At Cannes, the Europa Cinemas members elected German exhibitor Christian Bräuer as the new general secretary. The next big event for the arthouse exhibitors’ organisation is the 19th Europa Cinemas Conference, which will bring together about 500 industry representatives from all over Europe in Prague from 27-29 November 2015.