Aviva Silver, head of the E.U.’s MEDIA Program unit, presented the 3-year pilot project, Media International, at San Sebastian’s Sales Office on Wednesday morning.
Media IntL. is a complement to the existing $157 million-a-year MEDIA program and aims to build bridges with third countries, via three action lines: continuous training, film promotion and cinema networks.
“Many parts of the world, such as Latin America, are currently leapfrogging to digital multiplexes and multi-channel digital TV,” explained Silva. “We need coordinated initiatives in order to make the most of these opportunities and foster a two-way flow of expertise and projects”.
Although currently with a modest operating budget of $2.94 million for 2008, Silver hopes to double Media International’s budget in 2009 and 2010 and then evolve into an ambitious $147 million-a-year MEDIA MUNDUS programme from 2011 onwards.
“Attending events such as San Sebastian - which is a key crossroads between European and Latin American cinema - highlights the fact that there are certain natural zones where we can build stronger ties”, Silver noted.
A recent public consultation with industry professionals revealed a major interest in establishing a coproduction funding initiative that would dynamise links between E.U. producers and third countries.
Silver cited the Ibermedia program involving Spain, Portugal and Latin America as an excellent example of E.U.third country co-operation, but emphasized that E.U. co-production funding is still an open issue, in particular because Member States have emphasized that such initiatives fall within their national domain.
18 projects received support in Media International’s 2008 funding round, involving Canada, Latin America, non-E.U. Eastern European countries, India and Asia.
Flagship projects include a 13-country cinema network managed by Europa Cinemas, the DOMLA documentary showcase in Chile and Uruguay, and the TAULA copyright and co-production training initiative in Chile.
All funded projects must have a European lead coordinator in order to guarantee effective supervision by the Commission.
Silver emphasized possible future links to the U.S.: “We obviously wouldn’t exclude the possibility of developing a joint initiative with a top U.S. film school, such as Columbia”, she hinted.
The MEDIA unit hopes to have EU Commission approval for the action lines and budget for the MEDIA MUNDUS program by December 2008, aiming for swift greenlighting from the European Parliament and Council, allowing the program to go operational from 2011 onwards.