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Berlinale 2024 - EFM

Industry Report: Gender Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Institutional speakers discuss the importance of cinema as a tool to protect democracy and cultural diversity at the EFM


BERLINALE 2024: The panellists tackled a number of hot topics, including gender equality, geoblocking, authors’ rights and public support

Institutional speakers discuss the importance of cinema as a tool to protect democracy and cultural diversity at the EFM
Member of the European Parliament's Committee on Culture and Education Emmanuel Maurel during the panel (© Dario Caruso/Cineuropa)

On 17 February, Martin Gropius-Bau’s Conference Lounge hosted an event titled “Cinema as a Tool for Democracy – Walking Together the Path to the 2024 European Elections”, moderated by Pauline Durand-Vialle and organised by the LUX Audience Award team.

The discussion, which took place during this year’s European Film Market (15-21 February), saw the participation of members of the Committee on Culture and Education of the European Parliament Monica Semedo, Diana Riba i Giner and Emmanuel Maurel, Deputy Director-General For DG Connect Renate Nikolay, Executive Director of Eurimages Susan Newman, and Member of the Board of the European Film Academy Christophe Leparc.

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First, Nikolay highlighted how we live in times during which “we cannot take democracy for granted,” thus “its vulnerability needs to be addressed.” In her view, the role of independent media and fact checkers remains crucial to bring enough safety, protection and awareness.

Maurel, who is approaching the end of his mandate as an MP, worked extensively on a number of files related to the audiovisual sector and to cultural diversity, one of the European Union’s prime values. He underscored authors’ rights as one of the most significant fights, one which is interconnected with the topics of artistic freedom and the standardisation of content. Another important discussion in which he has been taking part is the definition of European works and the hot topic that is geo-blocking. He also stressed the role of cinema as an artform that is able to represent society, and touched on the importance of taking part in the upcoming European elections, set to take place from 6-9 June. 

Riba i Giner talked about two of the most important files the EP worked on – namely the implementation of the AVSMD and the Directive of the European Media Freedom Act. The latter is particularly important for professionals and broadcasters and their editorial independence.

Next, Semedo spoke about her role as negotiator for the Creative Europe programme and her MP work, from the perspective of someone who is not just a politician but also used to be a singer and a journalist. She also talked about the role of the national and regional Creative Europe desks, efforts to keep our cultural industries competitive against US giants, and the commitment to preserve Europe’s cultural diversity. She also called for a common “status for the artists,” which could help to spread entrepreneurial literacy and guarantee better working conditions across the EU to reduce insecurity and ensure fairness, diversity and inclusion.

Later, Nikolay tackled the topics of private investors in audiovisual projects and the importance of keeping track of tech development. “We need to have a conversation about them with the next Parliament,” she said, adding that strong support for the audiovisual industry should remain in place “in any case.”

In her contribution, Newman zoomed in on the main activities of Eurimages as a funding body managed by the Council of Europe and its firm line about supporting human rights and democracy, as well as the importance of empowering the role of women in film and society.

On the topic of gender equality, Leparc praised “the feminisation of the Catalan film industry” defining it as something “impressive to see” and involving not just directors but also DoPs, producers, composers and screenwriters. In this sense, he stressed the importance of fast, effective political action, which can speed up the achievement of gender equality goals. Filmmakers such as Elena Martín Gimeno and Carla Simón, he argued, didn’t emerge as artists simply because of their talent, but because the government helped them to be “stronger” and visible.

Towards the end of the talk, the panellists celebrated the pivotal role played by festivals and other cultural initiatives including the LUX Audience Award, which remains one of the key events fostering European values and raising awareness around current socio-political issues.

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