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Anne Schultka says, “The time is now” at KIDS Regio


- The KIDS Regio project manager intended to give agency to participants and asked everyone to approach their EU representatives with the forum’s results

Anne Schultka says, “The time is now” at KIDS Regio
KIDS Regio project manager Anne Schultka during the panel (© KIDS Regio Forum/Steffen Becker Fotodesign)

After making an exceptional trip to Weimer in 2019, for its fourth edition (26-28 June), KIDS Regio Forum, the lobby initiative dedicated to enriching the quality and the diversity of children’s films across Europe, “came home” to Erfurt, the city where it all started in 2009. Now strongly rejuvenated, the event was fully equipped for a moment in time which is at the same time complicated yet favourable, given the timeframe of the European political agenda.

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“Our grand plans for Brussels after the 2019 forum, under Germany's presidency of the Council of the EU, had to be postponed because of the pandemic, and in 2022, we were finally able to host a parliamentary breakfast together with our MP, Marion Walsmann,” KIDS Regio project manager Anne Schultka tells Cineuropa. “For us, it was a touchpoint with all of the film industry’s different EU associations: the ECFA, Europa Distribution, FERA, CICAE, Eurimages, the European Audiovisual Observatory and Europa Cinemas, which were all present this year in Erfurt. We were really trying to reach out to them and, as our claim goes, to build bridges, because we can’t do everything alone. Also, this edition takes place under the patronage of the European Parliament and Catherine Trautmann, the president of Eurimages.”

These advancements were also reflected in the complete overhaul of the forum structure, which was designed together with Hanna Reifgerst, with the purpose of “avoiding the term ‘conference’: we didn’t want experts talking to experts in panels, or participants hiding behind screens. We need all of you to be active players,” explained Reifgerst in her introduction.

The participants were divided into eight groups, who had to work together to exchange ideas and share knowledge with the ultimate goal of creating prototype policies for European children’s film. The work sessions were intertwined with inspirational input sessions and keynotes, and all of the work in progress was made available live on the KIDS Regio website.

“Giving agency to the participants is something we wanted to achieve with the forum because we have limited resources, and we need each and every one of them to approach their EU representatives with our results,” continued Schultka.

Some of the prototypes that came out of the event seem only a few steps away from becoming reality. The KiKi (Kids Kino) project looked at the example of the Swedish Network of Children’s Cinema, which was illustrated by Jeanette Schjerva, commissioner of screenings and festivals at Film i Skåne, in the “Building Networks for Cinemas and Lifting up the Young Audience” input session. In this network, cinemas, funds and distributors work together to help cinemas all over the country to find a broader variety of films for the young audience and to make them feel welcome in the world of cinemas. The KiKi project suggest implementing it in at least five territories in Europe.

“I am curious about how it will move forward,” stated Schultka. “I have talked to a couple of people who have also chatted to each other to maybe get something on the road, and I was actually thinking it could be our topic for our online feedback meeting that we will have in August [the idea for this meeting is one of the many that cropped up over these few days]. It could also be a good point to raise at our annual Berlinale meeting, which will take place on 15 February 2025.

“Another brilliant idea was that there could be a celebration of the ‘year of the child’ in 2026: one of our participants, Margret Albers, project manager at the German Children’s Film Association, already talked with our MP, Marion Walsmann, and we decided to take this suggestion with us to the breakfast that we will hopefully host again at the European Parliament this November […]. Annelie Zapfe, representative of the Free State of Thuringia to the EU, said that now is the time to start lobbying for the new MEDIA programme that will start in 2028.

“Another of our guests, Edita Bilaver, business consultant and co-founder of the non-profit organisation Kids Meet Art, committed to writing a short draft with the highlights of the forum to be shared not only with her network, but also with the other participants, so that they can do the same with the stakeholders of their countries, and maybe their MPs. I think with all of the agencies and associations who have joined us this year, we could have a reach of around 10,000 people.”

The Thuringian State Chancellery is one of the long-standing supporters of KIDS Regio, together with the Mitteldeutsche Medienförderung, the Golden Sparrow German Children’s Media Foundation and Cine Regio.

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