International law firm Olswang has hosted a special event at the 63rd Berlin Film Festival to discuss the impending review of the EU Cinema Communication with industry specialists, including lead panellists Amanda Nevil, chief executive officer of the British Film Institute, and Peter Dinges, chief executive officer of the German Federal Film Board (FFA).
After a decade of European film production funding under the Cinema Guidelines, the European Commission is reassessing its position towards this area of state aid for national film industries.
The European film industry has undergone numerous changes in the past 12 years, yet it has been operating on the basis of guidelines created in 2001, which only focused on film production. The new proposed communication covers the whole value chain, with the much-awaited inclusion of aid for movie theatres, as well as for scriptwriting, development, distribution and the promotion of films, thereby providing support for new distribution platforms.
In March 2012, the European Commission proposed amendments to territorial spending requirements for country-specific aid schemes, causing concern within the film industry across Europe. The initial proposal allowed for a member state to require 100 per cent of the aid fund — instead of, as in the original communication, 80 per cent of the production budget — to be spent on goods and services originating from the country offering aid.
Alternatively, a member state could introduce aid schemes defining the aid as a percentage of the expenditure on production in that member state. The origin of goods or services used or consumed for that production could not be restricted to the territory of that member state, but the member state could require a minimal level of activity in its territory of up to 25 per cent of the production budget.