I am very honoured to be asked, as the new Chairwoman of the Committee
on Culture and Education of the European Parliament, to write the preface
for this year’s edition of the “European Cinema Yearbook”.
The Yearbook has been recognised for many years as a reliable and, indeed,
as an essential reference work for the whole European cinema industry,
providing comprehensive statistics on every aspect of cinematic exhibition
across 34 countries.
For all the importance that economics plays in the EU today, my twenty
years in the European Parliament have convinced me that it is through
culture that we are best able to communicate with the citizens of Europe.
Audiovisual media, and cinema in particular, have the power to bring about
a greater understanding and awareness of our shared and diverse cultural
It is my sincere belief that we have a responsibility to current and future
generations of Europeans to ensure that not only are they supported but
that they are encouraged and actively promoted by every means at our disposal.
In my new role, I will continue my commitment within the Committee of
Culture and Education to this ideal and to our shared European cultural
One of the greatest achievements of the past parliamentary term was the
entry into force in December 2007 of the AVMSD, which introduced new and
flexible rules on linear and non-linear services, making it easier to
respond to technological developments and creating a level playing field
in Europe for emerging audiovisual media. The end of 2009 marks the date
by which the Directive must be transposed into national legislation. It
is a significant step and I hope a real turning point in releasing the
true potential of the EU audiovisual sector.
The success of the MEDIA Programme over the past eighteen years in promoting
European films is well established, proving effective and dynamic support
for the European audiovisual industry. For the fifth year running the
film that won the prestigious Palme d'Or this year in Cannes has been
funded by the MEDIA Programme: Das Weisse Band (The White
Ribbon) directed by Michael Haneke. The current MEDIA Programme 2007-2013
with its budget of EUR 755 millions is a real success and continues to
help professionals to get proper training and develop, as well as to promote
and distribute their works.
However, the Programme was originally designed only to cover projects
within Europe. In a world of increasingly globalised markets and digital
technologies, this limitation makes less sense. At the end of last parliamentary
term, we took a significant step to fill this gap by adopting a new EU
Programme, MEDIA Mundus 2011-2013, for audiovisual cooperation with professionals
from third countries. With its EUR 15 million budget for 2011-2013, the
Programme will boost the exchange of information between professionals,
and improve the competitiveness and transnational distribution of audiovisual
works worldwide as well as the circulation and exposure of audiovisual
The MEDIA Mundus Programme is a strong response to the new challenges
presented to the European film industry by new markets outside Europe.
It supports European films as global ambassadors for our cultural values
and respects the principles of the Unesco Convention by promoting cultural
diversity both in Europe and around the world.
I am also committed to ensuring that the vibrant expressions of our cultural
diversity provided by the European film industry are not hindered in any
way by the language barrier. November will again see the European Parliament
award the LUX Prize, symbolising the support of the European Parliament
for the creativity of the European film industry.
By selecting films which explore, each in its own way, the diverse lives
and yet similar experiences shared by European citizens, the European
Parliament seeks to highlight the variety of European cinematographic
culture. This year, the third year the prize has been awarded, the three
finalists were Източни Пиеси
(Eastern Plays) by Kamen Kalev, Sturm (Storm)
by Hans-Christian Schmid, and Welcome (Id.) by Philippe Lioret,
which has been announced as the 2009 winner on 25 November: the prize
will take the form of support for the subtitling and kinescope recording
of the winning film in the 23 official EU languages. The original language
recording will also be adapted for subtitling for hard of hearing and
It is my sincere conviction that there is no European conscience, neither
emotion nor European identity, if we forget the specific history of each
country. European films, as an expression of this conscience can be a
gateway to discovering the soul of Europe.
The soul of Europe of course stretches out beyond the Union's current
boundaries and I would like to take this opportunity to make particular
reference to the growing contribution of Balkans cinema to Europe’s
Balkan filmmakers offer a new perspective to Europe's cultural diversity
providing vibrant and dynamic narratives mixed with a unique aesthetic
touch. I was therefore delighted when Croatia, in March 2008, joined the
MEDIA Programme 2007. It has led to more active cooperation between the
EU and Croatian film industries, helped promote Croatian films and facilitated
their distribution throughout the EU and beyond. Indeed, the country has
enjoyed some notable cinematic achievements in recent years such as the
acclaimed Niciji Sin (No One's Son) by Arsen Anton Ostojic,
and Moram Spavat', Andjele (I Have to Sleep, My Angel)
by Dejan Acimovic´s which have both received international recognition.
I believe that such cooperation provides incalculable value in terms of
mutual cultural enrichment as well as reinforcing intercultural dialogue.
To conclude, I return to my central theme: a strong European cinema is
an essential element in promoting and celebrating cultural diversity and
fostering intercultural dialogue. This will only be possible if, as Wim
Wenders said, Europeans believe in the power of their imagery.
Chairwoman of the Committee on
Culture and Education