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Existence of European cinema discussed at Lecce round table


Working around the definition of European cinema as the sum of national film identities established around common roots, the round table "Identity and language of European cinema”, held at the 12th Lecce Festival of European Film (April 12-16) and promoted by the European Parliament, offered discussions on various themes, including the circulation of films in Europe, teaching cinema in schools, changes brought on by new technologies and the parochialism of individuals countries.

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Speakers included Doris Pack (president, European Parliament Cultural Commission), Marion Doring (director, European Film Academy), Paulo Branco (producer), Bruno Torri (president, National Union of Italian Film Critics) and Luciana Castellina (honorary president, Cineuropa).

"At the moment, European cinema is the simple sum of diverse national film industries, with a more geographical than identity-centric value", commented Torri. "Yet founding values exist in Europe that are shared by the entire continent: ancient Greek civilization, Christianity, humanism, the Enlightenment. More than a reality, European cinema is a project to realize".

A project on which European institutions are working, according to Pack, who emphasized the importance of initiatives like the Lux Prize, now at its fourth edition.

But an award isn’t enough to help European cinema, says Branco. "It’s grave that we have to fight to defend the MEDIA Programme," pointed out the disillusioned producer. "I don’t know what ‘European cinema’ means, cinema is art and diversity. A diversity that isn’t shown on TV, for example. What are institutions doing about this?"

"In the last 10 years, the number of European films being produced has nearly doubled," said Doring. "Yet each country sees only its own market share increase. Which is why we have to get new generations accustomed to films from other countries, through education, like with literature”.

"Economic rather than cultural factors were favoured in the construction of Europe,” offered Castellina. "Moreover, we have to take into account the new technologies that produce new types of culture. Eighty-five percent of young people download content from the web. The Internet is an extraordinary resource for cinema. It’s always better if a million people see a film for 50 cents each, rather than a thousand people at €7 each".

The question of whether a cultural and not just political European Union can exist nevertheless remains unanswered.

(Translated from Italian)

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