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Andrus Ansip: “Piracy is the real headache of European cinema”


- The European Film Forum drew to a close with some conclusions about distribution, the fight against piracy and the balance between the portability and territoriality of European productions

Andrus Ansip: “Piracy is the real headache of European cinema”
European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip at the event

The second and last day of the European Film Forum, held at the Brussels Cinema Days in the BOZAR cultural centre in the Belgian capital, examined how the issue of portability should be treated as we look to the future of European cinema, taking into account new platforms, technologies and social trends on this continent and abroad.

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The topic was tackled through a fireside chat on the Digital Single Market with European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, who insisted on the fact that a balance between portability and territoriality, with an easier and cheaper form of cross-border licensing, would alter the dramatic figures, as currently, 79% of European films are only available in two countries or less. It is also vital to fight piracy, which, in his eyes, is “the real headache of European cinema”.

The first panel, entitled “It’s All About Access, Fostering the Exploitation of EU Works”, featuring panellists Christophe Tardieu, director general of the Centre National du Cinéma, Lauri Kivinen, CEO of YLE Finland, Tom Van Waveren, CEO and creative director at Cake Entertainment, and Filmin and EuroVoD’s Jaume Ripoll, stressed the urgent need for a platform to distribute European cinema directly. Particular attention was paid to the rise of Netflix, which Ripoll asserted wasn’t interested in “90% of European cinema”, but this new platform should “divert the search of an audience elsewhere” for European filmmakers and producers. Tardieu emphasised that the best way to sell a film was through a “theatrical release” that must have dealt with curation and the fight against piracy beforehand.

A second conference, entitled "How to Leverage Investment?", featured EIF deputy chief executive Roger Havenith, Media Finance Partners CEO Danielle Kadeyan, Voordekunst director Roy Cremers, Christof Papousek from Cineplexx, and Filmförderunganstalt director and EFADs president Peter Dinges. They discussed the challenges and benefits of private funding and crowdfunding for European producers, which, according to Kadeyan, have “no shareholders and no equity base”. Havenith highlighted the mechanisms that make the “umbrella fund” system for European productions work, and the relevance of its facilities for the film industry in Europe.

The last panel, called “Living the Digital Shift: Concentration or Diversification?”, which featured president of the European Producers Club Marco Chimenz, content director of Telefonica Alex Martinez Roig, Metropolitan Filmexport co-founder Victor Hadida and Mikko Setälä from Rovio, concluded that there are “times of radical revolution” to come, as “technology will enable anyone to turn into a producer, and not only in the field of music”, as Marco Chimenz said. He also remarked on the relevance of developing a “pedagogy against piracy” amongst consumers, who, according to Martínez, “sadly have prior access to American blockbusters rather than to European productions” and end up accessing that content through illegal downloading.

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