Directors and MEPs join forces to save Media Programme
By Nathalie Vandystadt | Friday 25 February 2011
French MEP Marie-Thérèse Sanchez-Schmid (EPP) has backed around 100 European film directors, including Ken Loach, Wim Wenders, Costa-Gavras and Betrand Tavernier, who have signed a petition calling on the European Commission to maintain its Media Programme for the cinematography industry. Directors say they are “extremely worried” by the “threat” to this programme, which had a budget of €755 million during the period 2007 to 2013. The signatories have called for the Commission to reconsider any suggestion to abolish the programme during the coming months, when all EU programmes will be reviewed as part of budgetary negotiations for the Union’s post-2013 financial perspectives.
The Commission is aware that the Media Programme is one of the most popular within the EU, and has stated that “there is no threat to the Media Programme”.
Every film festival provides an opportunity for the Commission to share in the credit for the success of European films; for example, 22 films funded by the Media Programme were selected for the 61st Berlin Film Festival, such as ‘My best enemy’ by Wolfgang Murnberger.
‘SUPER-PROGRAMME’ FOR CREATIVITY?
Sanchez-Schmid has expressed her concern over an idea that has been floated to fuse the Culture, Media and Youth Programmes. These programmes, which have respective budgets of €400 million, €755 million and €855 million, “are the only meagre European investment in culture and education in the real sense, and only represent 0,2% of the EU budget,” the French MEP said. A fusion of these programmes, she added, would “further decrease the visibility of EU involvement in these areas, and would not take into account the specific nature of each one”.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso has said that he is “conscious of the importance of the programme” and that its existence was not being called into question.
Florence Gastaud, from the French organisation the Civil Society of Writers, Directors and Producers (ARP), which launched the petition to the Commission, said that the Media Programme often provides the funding that allows the negotiation of agreements between different film-producing countries in the EU. For Gastaud, “the suppression of this programme will force national cinemas to restrict themselves to their national market. This would go against the idea of forging a European identity, which is achieved through cultural exchange”.
While the Commission says it does not intend to abolish the programme altogether, according to our information there is certainly a suggestion to create a ‘super-programme’ for creativity in the EU. Nevertheless, nothing has yet been proposed.
Sanchez-Schmid, a member of the Parliament’s Committee on Culture and Education (CULT), said that the committee would be “vigilant on maintaining these budgets,” notably for the promotion of the European audiovisual industry.
The Commission will organise a public hearing on the “future of the Media programmes” on 18 March in Brussels.