Zagreb Film Festival and LUX Audience Award talk institutional support measures during pandemic
- Speakers from EFAD, the European Parliament, the Croatian Ministry of Culture and two producers discussed how the film industry has been supported so far and what the future might hold
Under the title "How can institutions and good case studies help European cinema during the COVID-19 crisis?", the Zagreb Film Festival's Industry section last week focused on how pan-European and national institutions, as well as trade associations and organisations, have so far supported the audiovisual industry on the continent and what is needed to facilitate the functioning of the sector in the near future.
In collaboration with the Croatian Creative Europe MEDIA Desk and the LUX Audience Award, two panels took place online last Friday. The first focused on film production, and the second on theatrical distribution in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both were moderated by Martina Petrovic from Croatia's Creative Europe MEDIA Desk.
Entitled "To produce or not during the pandemic," the first panel featured the Secretary General of EFAD Julie-Jeanne Régnault, Romanian producer and Deputy Chairwoman of the EFA Board Ada Solomon, Croatian producer Ankica Jurić Tilić, Secretary of State at the Croatian Ministry of Culture and Media Krešimir Partl, and Predrag Fred Matić, member of the Culture and Education Committee in the European Parliament.
The key note was delivered by Petra Kammerevert, a co-rapporteur on the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMS) in the European Parliament, who referred to the European Parliament's resolution, adopted a couple of weeks ago, to encourage national governments to earmark at least 2% of their recovery and resilience funds for culture and creative sectors. As this is just a recommendation, Kammerevert and a group of parliamentarians are working on getting support to request mandatory earmarking.
Petrović then asked the first of the questions which the talk was to revolve around: Has enough been done to help the AV sector?
Régnault replied that it can never be enough. However, "Film agencies' and audio-visual centres' job is to help production, distribution, exhibition, and that is what they did for months. They started in mid-March, giving the reserves they had in their budget, negotiating additional envelopes with the government, changing the schemes and inventing new ones."
This was followed by increased support for script and project development funding. The next step was pushing the production support, to meet the expenses increased by safety regulations.
"But a lot more needs to be done," Régnault said. "For example, the insurance gap. No insurance company wants to cover the COVID-19 risk, so some developed countries set up their own guarantee funds. But smaller countries cannot afford it, so how do you co-produce if you are insured in one production country but not in the other?" Régnault warned that it was crucial to ensure that resilience and recovery packages actually reached the AV sector after the pandemic, and that the AVMS Directive needed to be implemented properly and with ambition in order to prepare the recovery in the long term.
When it comes to the way some EU countries supported the sector in the crisis, two examples were given. In the first, Partl outlined Croatia's response, which was not on the level of Germany or France, but did secure some support for its culture scene (though local professionals all agree that it was nowhere near sufficient), and injected additional funds into film production.
In the opposite example, Solomon spoke about how the Romanian government has done absolutely nothing to help culture and cinema.
"I was able to produce a film this year, but not because my country helped me — because Croatia, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic helped me and we did this co-production," said Solomon. "And all these connections would not be possible without support on the European level."
Her Croatian colleague Jurić Tilić agreed: "I think it's crucial because it took us a long time to shape Europe as a common playground, as a really compact cultural part of the Earth, and now we should really be careful not to lose it. We are very much aware of the importance of the unity of the European culture field."
One new development might facilitate the future of this common work, according to Régnault: a proposal for a new Creative Europe MEDIA line with a fund of €3 million for teams of screenwriters from different countries who want to create together.
"We've been lobbying a lot because there was nothing for screenwriters in the MEDIA programme, and what we want is more stories coming from Europe. This will be voted on in December, and I urge you, dear MPs, to make sure it's greenlighted," she said.
With a new €2.2 billion budget allocated to MEDIA for the period 2021-2027, Kammerevert concluded that this was a great opportunity "to show the unity in diversity in our European Union and to bring people together”, and that it was “very important to have a strong film industry in Europe, and not only in the United States and China."
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