European Distributors Call for COVID-19 Support to Avoid "Long-Term Catastrophe"

The Favourite-Olivia Colman-Publicity Still-H 2019
Yorgos Lanthimos/Fox Searchlight

Bodies representing the continent's film distributors have pushed for an emergency fund for its members.

European film distribution bodies have said that their representatives need urgent support during the ongoing novel coronavirus crisis if they are to avoid a "long-term catastrophe."

In a statement issued by Europa Distribution and the International Federation of Film Distributors' Associations, the two organizations claimed that support was needed "not just for the film industry and employment as a whole, but for the European Union's commitment to cultural diversity."

The statement added that the lockdown had "already tragically undermined" the reach of some potentially important films, with the titles that had been held back for release once the pandemic had subsided having to "take their chances" in an overcrowded and disrupted market. 

"The much-hyped increase in online film audiences has created a route to release for some films, but it only represents a fraction of the revenues generated by a full theatrically-led campaign," it said. "Indeed, online success is still heavily linked to successful physical release."

The bodies called for support at national and European levels that will benefit "all parts of the film value chain," from employment support measures, tax alleviation measures and anti-piracy action, but also specific support for distributors, including an emergency fund and immediate access to the Creative Europe-MEDIA Automatic and Selective schemes grants.

"The call for such support needs to be understood from a broad perspective that goes far beyond business since the national and non-national circulation and effective promotion of European films is the keystone of cultural diversity," it said. 

"Europe’s film distributors, in their role of publishers and promoters, will be among the most important assets in that mission. They are in the front line of sharing and promoting the values and culture of Europe that will play a crucial role with the recovery. Distributors will also help ensure that European values of diversity, integrity and tolerance can overcome other threats, including a narrow nationalist populism, which may try to exploit a narrative of hate during a difficult recovery."