Is Eurimages support more important than ever?

A group of filmmakers met in Berlin to discuss the future of Eurimages.

By Wendy Mitchell 30 Dec 2019

Is Eurimages support more important than ever?
The Story of My Wife. Credit: Arte France Cinema

“Eurimages fulfils an important role to back those cultur­ally important, risk-taking films that the market doesn’t necessarily support,” said Hungarian director Ildiko Enyedi at an event to celebrate Euri­mages’ 30th anniversary.

Held during the European Film Awards weekend on December 7 in Berlin, she spoke of the need for more “brave and daring” filmmaking in Europe and said Eurimages — the cultural support fund of the Council of Europe — has to support those voices.

Enyedi noted that her forthcoming drama The Story Of My Wife, a collaboration between Hungary, Germany, France and Italy, would not have been made without Eurimages.

“Eurimages helps us take those risks, to not have to directly look for an audience,” said Germany’s Jonas Dornbach of Komplizen Film, co-producer on The Story Of My Wife. “It gives us more freedom to work with filmmakers for their vision. We have to co-produce otherwise [these] films wouldn’t be possible.”

Giorgos Karnavas of Greece’s Heretic, who is co-producing Ruben Ostlund’s Triangle Of Sadness, said: “For small countries like Romania and Greece with limited resources, the support of Eurimages is a game-changer. You have to think in a more co-operative way.”

Romanian director Anca Damian (Crulic — The Path To Beyond and Marona’s Fantastic Tale) agreed that co-production makes her films stronger. “For me, aside from the production needs, co-producing can elevate the project to a different level.”

Even with productions being made across borders, the experts agreed films are not crossing enough of those boundaries in distribution. Roberto Olla, executive director of Eurimages, says the organisation is now researching how best to support this going forward as the current distribution support framework ends in March 2020.

Creative freedom

The support of Eurimages can help the European film industry offer audiences something different to the global streaming platforms, suggested Bero Beyer, the outgoing festival director of International Film Festival Rotterdam and soon to be CEO of the Netherlands Film Fund. He noted European public funders “should give more creative freedom to those voices who can make really original work”.

The money from national funds and bodies such as Eurimages should come with fewer strings attached too, said Beyer. “The amount of time you have to spend as a producer juggling all those elements so that you can get the film made is taking away energy from what you could be doing in terms of the project itself.”

The organisation, founded by the Council of Europe in 1988 and active since 1989, has grown to 40 members with the addition of Argentina (as an associate member) in October. The next country to be added is likely to be Ukraine in 2020. The UK is not a member and with Brexit looming, UK policymakers have said they will research the feasibility of joining.

Eurimages’ funding support reaches about $28.8m (€26m) per year and comes from member states’ contributions and repayment of loans to past projects. Even though many producers would like to see more funding for Eurimages, that is unlikely unless all member states voluntarily agree to raise their dues.

Following a study in 2018, Eurimages is proposing to make some changes from 2021. The proposals have been approved by the Euri­mages board and now need to be ratified by the Council of Europe’s governing bodies.

“The evaluation from 2018 indicated Eurimages is growing so big the rules of the game [need to be] updated for the new paradigm,” said Olla.

Currently, national representatives vote on which projects receive co-production funding. Under the new proposals, those national reps would work on Eurimages’ wider policies, but external experts would make the project-funding decisions.

The core of Eurimages will remain unchanged, however. “It is clear Eurimages should keep a cultural editorial line,” said Olla. “We are there to encourage filmmakers to take risks and be creative and in a way that’s not necessarily market-oriented.”

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