Hundreds of European filmmakers have signed a petition to support the future of the European Union’s MEDIA Programme after 2013 following news that the European Commission has decided to put an end to Media Programming independence.
Ken Laoch, Rebecca O’Brien, Jean-Jacques Beineix, Mike Leigh, Wim Wenders, Cristian Mungiu, Catherine Breillat and Fatih Akin are amongst over 300 filmmakers who have so far signed a petition created by L’Arp – the French civil society of filmmakers.
The petition clearly outlines the filmmakers’ response to the proposed abolition of the MEDIA programme, with strong statement s made in the letter, such as: ”We refuse, purely and simply, to allow the Media Programme to be abolished, or even to see it merged within another, more extensive programme […] Naturally, this serious challenge does serious harm to creativity and culture, the foundations of our identity and our European values.”
The document sees the filmmakers call upon the President of the European Commission to receive a delegation of European film-makers and to do so ”as quickly as possible.” In the petition declaration, the signatories further explain the reason for their rage, stating: We deplore the fact that the European Commission, rather than allocating the necessary resources for the renewal of the programme and considering with the member states how they could find ways of financing the programme other than through contributions from member states (via an additional European taxation system), has confined itself to abolishing the benefits, reducing credit and ending the specifics of the MEDIA Programme.”
The MEDIA Programme has a budget of over €755 Million for the timeframe of 2007-2013. During the 2001-2006 cycle, Irish companies were awarded over €9.53 Million from the MEDIA programme in the form of development funding, distribution funding, production funding and many more. The MEDIA programme has supported many successful Irish projects in the past such as Cartoon Saloon’s ‘The Secret of Kells’; Fastnet Films’ ‘The Runway’; Grand Pictures’ ‘Trivia’ which is currently showing on RTÉ One; Crossing the Line’s ‘Broken Tail’s Last Journey’; Jam Media’s ‘Tilly and Friends’ and Newgrange Pictures feature film, ‘Happy Ever Afters’.
Treasure Entertainment has also received a lot of support from the funding body over the years and co-founder Rob Walpole tells IFTN he will be fighting for the programme to stay in place. "Should the MEDIA programme be done away with it would be a real example of the European Union becoming an Economic Union," he explains. "When I started out in the business, thinking beyond Ireland and the UK for Irish producers was a dream but this is not at all the case any more because of the programme. MEDIA is central to our filmmaking identity. On a micro level - just taking Treasure into consideration - MEDIA has been absolutely critical to our success. In fact none of the recent successful projects of ours would have been produced without the MEDIA programme. It really is the worst time for them to suggest abolishing such an important support body."
On March 18th a public hearing will be organized in Brussels by MEDIA executives to discuss future needs/plans of the body. There will be invited speakers from different media disciplines followed by a 'public discussion'. For more information about said public meeting visit http://ec.europa.eu/culture/media/programme/overview/news/publichearing_en.htm
The European Film Academy, UNIC, FIAPF, European Producers Club and 12 other bodies have also voiced their outrage as to the suggestion to abolish the MEDIA Programme. Other national associations are invited now to voice their support by either sending a group letter to European Commission President José Manuel Barroso or by adding their names to the filmmakers’ petition by sending an email to email@example.com. All industry professionals are invited to sign the petition.