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Philippe Reynaert • President of Cine-Regio

"A major challenge awaits us!"

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- Philippe Reynaert tells about Cine-Regio's new strategy and the importance of regional funds in Europe

Philippe Reynaert • President of Cine-Regio

Since 2001, Philippe Reynaert has headed Wallimage, the Regional Investment Fund for the Audiovisual Industry set up by the Walloon Region (Belgium). He was behind the creation of Cine-Regio, the European Coordination Body for Regional Investment Funds in the Audiovisual sector, of which he was the first president in 2005. In May 2011, he returned as president of Cine-Regio for one year, giving Cineuropa the chance to meet with him to discuss the organisation strategy and importance of regional funds in Europe.

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Cineuropa: In practical terms, how does the cooperation between members of Cine-Regio actually work?
Philippe Reynaert: In an informal and effective way! Our association’s number one problem is also its source of richness: no two regional funds operate in the same way, nor do they have the same objectives quite often. This may seem surprising at first, but one thing they really do have in common is pragmatism and regional rootedness. All the member funds of Cine-Regio are first and foremost there to serve the regions which created them and as these regions have different needs, it stands to reason that the organisations they’ve set up are so diverse.

Let’s just say that the concept that unites us is one which combines cinema’s undeniable artistic and cultural dimension with an economic dimension that has an impact on employment and regional development. So, besides the big issues discussed at general meetings, we work in sub-groups depending on our similar interests. Some regions collaborate in the Kids Regio group focusing on children’s films, while others work together on Docu-Regio, etc.

What is the importance and impact of the Cine-Regio network in the European film industry today?
A whopping 20% of public money invested in European cinema comes from regional funds, but the importance of this groundswell shouldn’t be measured in terms of this percentage alone. We have to put it into perspective: then we notice that while national and supranational (Eurimages) funds have remained stable but haven’t grown for years, there has been a steep decline in TV funding and minimum guarantees from distributors and sellers.

Of all the funding sources, only two are on the rise: tax shelter schemes and regional funds. Moreover, I’d like to add that Cine-Regio is today and will tomorrow be a major player in the European film industry because its members are constantly seeking lasting strategies and, thanks to the research carried out by their association, they are always attuned to the fundamental developments in the sector.

Are there any common criteria used by all Cine-Regio members when it comes to allocating regional funding?
In general – but there are exceptions here too – the regional funds allocate financial support based on regional impact whether it be in terms of employment or image. Or both...

As president, how would you define Cine-Regio’s strategy for the future?
A major challenge awaits us! The European Commission is currently working on a new Cinema Communication: in this context, it is important for the Commission to listen to the voice of the regions too...

The structuring efforts achieved in recent years at Cine-Regio have made us a real go-between with the European authorities. In the eyes of the Competition DG, the regions have gone from being "bad boys" associated with the excessive territorialisation of spending to being "places of experimentation", laboratories for what could tomorrow become the new responsible relationship between public money and the world of cinema. In the regions, we now talk about investments and not subsidies! This is the kind of language that European experts can be sensitive to. All we ask is that they take an unbiased view of us and appreciate the efforts we make, which benefit our local regions of course, but in the end also benefit the European sector as a whole... Cine-Regio’s strategy can be summed up in three words: exhibit, explain and...convince!

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