EC Commissioner Androulla Vassiliou Has Growth Plan for MEDIA

Program funds and supports development and distribution of European films.

CANNES -- The European Union’s MEDIA program will continue after 2013 and, if EC commissioner Androulla Vassiliou gets her way, will get even bigger.

Vassiliou, the EC commissioner for education, culture, multilingualism and youth told The Hollywood Reporter in Cannes she wants to continue and, if possible, expand the MEDIA program, which provides hundreds of millions in funding and support for the development and distribution of European films.

“We want to be certain that the MEDIA program will continue and will retain its identity and its independence,” Vassiliou said. “We, in fact, want to expand it, both in terms of budget and also in scope.”

MEDIA’s mandate runs out in 2013 and rumors that the program might be cut have alarmed European filmmakers, who see the program’s support — $1.1 billion (€775 million) over seven years in its current form — as an essential part of their financing.

MEDIA helped bankroll 20 films in this year’s Cannes festival, including Competition titles The Skin I Inhabit from Pedro Almodovar, Lars von Trier’s Melancholia and Aki Kaurismaki’s Le Havre. It also provided distribution support in Europe for this year’s best picture Oscar winner The King’s Speech.

Vassiliou said part of the proposal for MEDIA’s new mandate after 2013 would include greater support for the production of and distribution of European TV series such as Borgia and Olivier Assayas’ Carlos which could compete with high-end imported shows from the U.S.

Vassiliou and her team will summit their proposal for the new MEDIA to the European Parliament and European Commission by the end of this year. If accepted, the plan should be adopted by the end of 2012.

While in Cannes, the commissioner will be celebrating MEDIA’s 20-year anniversary, hosting an event Sunday with 20 European film directors, including Theo Angelopoulos, Jaco Van Dormael and Radu Mihaileanu, who have benefited from the program over the years.