European Film Academy Wants Movies Excluded From U.S. Free-Trade Talks

Telluride Film Festival | Telluride, Colo., Sept. 2-5
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"Pina" filmmaker Wim Wenders.

European filmmakers fear that the U.S.-EU negotiations set to start next month could threaten state support of the creative industry.

COLOGNE, Germany -- The European Film Academy and EFA president Wim Wenders have joined the growing chorus in the European industry demanding that film and other cultural industries be taken off the table in upcoming free-trade talks between the European Union and the United States.

The EU and the U.S. are set to begin talks next month aimed at eliminating trade barriers and increasing commerce between the world's two biggest economies. On Tuesday, the European Film Academy threw its support behind an online petition launched by the French association of film directors and producers that calls on the EU to preserve the so-called "cultural exception" for Europe's audiovisual industry.

"To not respect the cultural exception in the negotiations starting this June would threaten independent cinema and the author’s freedom of expression," the EFA said in a statement. "It would also result in European films vanishing from cinema screens in Europe and around the world and in irreparable damage to European culture."

Dozens of leading European filmmakers, including Oscar winners Michel Hazanavicius (The Artist), Michael Haneke (Amour) and Pedro Almodovar (Talk to Her), as well as non-Europeans including David Lynch and Jane Campion have signed the petition.

Fans of European cinema got a boost from news that attendance for European films grew 12 percent last year to around 313 million, or 33.6 percent of all movie tickets sold in the EU. Whether that is evidence of the need for continued state support of European film or an indication that European movies can stand on their own largely depends on who you ask.