CULTURE

European film vs US dominance

THESSALONIKI – More unified European film production and distribution networks could help challenge American domination of the movie industry and other problems, Greece’s culture minister urged yesterday. Evangelos Venizelos – whose nation currently leads the European Union – suggested representatives of film centers from EU countries meet before the end of Greece’s presidency next month to examine forming a federation. «The problem of the European cinema is not one, it is 26: that of the European Union and each of its 25 countries,» said Venizelos at a conference on the future of European cinema in light of the Union’s enlargement from 15 to 25 countries next May. Each country wanting to maintain its national filmmaking «often limits its horizons and gives us… a problem of structuring the Europe of 25 in the face of the United States,» he told the gathering. Venizelos said he would appeal to the European Investment Bank for assistance. European film industry representatives attending the conference outlined problems faced by European cinema: a US dominance of European box offices, deficient cinema education and the lack of local interest in European movies. «We have a great percentage of American films and there is no room for our neighboring countries in our cinemas anymore,» said German director Peter Fleischmann, adding that it is impossible for European cinema to make 1,000 copies of their films for distribution like Hollywood studios. He said digital cinema eventually might help solve this, but «we have not yet reached that point.» Others complained of lost opportunities because of Europe filmmaking deficiencies. «Harry Potter is European literature produced by Americans because there is no European production mechanism,» said Polish director Andrzej Zulawski. But many speakers focused on a more general issue presented by an expanded Europe: rekindling interest in the culture of other member states. «The fewer Polish directors or actors we know, the less we are interested,» Fleischmann said. «We need to find stimuli on a mass level in order to reawaken the interest.» «Film education is the best tool for a better European film climate,» added Angela De Kuijper, project manager at the Dutch Institute for Film Education, who suggested beginning cinema education with young students. Set to join the EU next year are Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Cyprus, Malta, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.