European Directors Lobby to Save MEDIA Program

Network of filmmakers sign a petition to ensure the future of the $1.2 billion subsidy initiative.


LONDON -- Europa Distribution, a European network chaired by filmmakers the Dardenne Brothers with 100 independent distributors from 25 countries, has penned a plea to ensure the future of the €755 million ($1.2 billion) MEDIA Program.

The future of the MEDIA Program is to be sounded out at a public hearing in Brussels March 18 this year and is expected to ignite heated debate as the Commission looks to trim funding and reduce costs across all subsidy sectors.

The present $1.2 billion budgeted MEDIA program kick started its fourth term in 2007 and runs until 2013.

Europa Distribution's letter to the European Commission president Jose Manuel Barrosso asks him to ensure the organization he presides over maintains its investment and commitment to the Europe-wide audiovisual cashpool.

The letter notes how essential the MEDIA cash has been since its inception 20 years ago, to the European film industry both culturally and commercially.

The cash has been used to subsidize the acquisition and distribution of local movies as well as support a myriad European filmmaking talent with Ken Loach, Michael Haneke, Wim Wenders, Lars Von Trier, Nanni Moretti, Pedro Alomodovar and Roman Polansk inamed as filmmakers with projects that have previously benefited.

According to the plea, if the MEDIA Program were to be axed the existence of numerous distribution, production, and exhibition companies would be put in danger, jobs would be lost and "the market share of U.S. movies would increase with consequences not only on the economic field but also on the social and cultural aspects."

According to the letter: "Bigger Groups and American Major companies can easily distort the competitive market with their huge power. For this reason, we strongly believe that the presence of the Media Program is one of the essential tools independent companies can use to compensate the inequalities present in the market (together with their creativity, the quality of their job, the flexibility of their structure and many other elements)."

The letter was signed on behalf of its membership by Europa Distribution co-presidents Regine Vial of France's Les Films du Losange and Antonio Medici of Italy's Bim Distribution.