Cross-border cooperation is key at the German-French Film Meeting
by Birgit Heidsiek
- The future of film distribution was one of the main issues discussed at the industry gathering in Saarbrücken
The ever-growing impact of German-French cooperation when it comes to European film and media politics was one of the key issues discussed at the German-French Film Meeting in the German border town of Saarbrücken, where German Films and UniFrance welcomed about 200 industry participants.
New financing models for German-French co-productions, as well as the future of distribution and film exhibition, were also on the minds of the industry representatives, as well as the consequences of the introduction of the Digital Single Market (DSM) and the consequent copyright law. “Europe is much bigger than the number of the member states in the EU, and we want to hold on to that,” stated Peter Dinges, president of the Federal Film Board.
According to the plans of the European Commission, the country-of-origin principle should be extended to the online services of broadcasters, which would affect linear programmes such as live shows as well as the non-linear programmes in media libraries. “This comes down to ‘Buy one, get 27 free’,” commented German lawyer Andreas Bareiss, because it would mean that the acquisition of rights for one territory would include the rights to the other 27 in the European Union. “This is not a technical necessity, as was once the case in the Satellite Directive, because a satellite footprint doesn’t stop at borders,” remarked Bareiss. “This is a clear political decision.”
Although geo-blocking is not prohibited yet and pan-European licensing is not obligatory, there is an imminent danger. “If the distributors can’t release their film exclusively anymore, the independents can’t participate in the DSM. Independent films need the same competition conditions,” stressed Julia Piaseczny, EU consultant at the FFA and SPIO. “We can’t leave things up to the bureaucracy in Brussels,” said Dinges. “We have the resources and the possibility to collaborate.”
For Frédérique Bredin, president of the CNC, it was also a symbol of French-German cooperation that the Film Meeting took place in Saarbrücken, on the French border. “The CNC and FFA have been fighting for a long time so that VoD platforms such as Netflix, Amazon and iTunes will contribute to film funding. It took years until we got the green light from the Commission. German-French cooperation made it possible to push the legislation forward.” Another issue is to demand a TV quota of 60% for European films, also in the online sector, as well as to increase the taxes for huge online corporations.
“Film is much more than an economic factor,” summed up Marie Masmonteil, the new president of the German-French Film Academy. “At the CETA negotiations, Germany and France took a stand for film as a cultural asset,” she said. “Now, the FFA and CNC have to stand up to the European Commission.”
The next German-French Film Meeting will take place in France.