Europe and its artists
by Jean-Paul Salomé
18/10/2011 - The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, recently acknowledged that our times “more than ever needed European cinema, which embodies European values, European cultural heritage stemming from centuries of creativity, migrations and exchanges, and everything that characterises the European spirit: openness, respect for others and diversity.”
As a film director, I remain true to Roger Planchon’s belief in involving artists in the political and economic side of Europe so that they become “strong advocates of the European idea.”
The dialogue struck up with European politicians, in particular Androulla Vassiliou, at Cannes last May centred around the 20th anniversary of the MEDIA Programme, boded well for the consideration of film directors’ opinions. Unfortunately, at the upcoming Dijon Film Meetings (October 20-22 - read the news), the presence of European politicians, both on the executive and parliamentary side, is somewhat lacking. As President of the ARP, I once again call on European politicians and the leaders of the member states by asking them to reach out to artists.
It is not too late to make European cultural policy one of the spearheads of common policy: Europe played a fundamental role when the UNESCO International Convention on Cultural Diversity came into being, and it must continue its fight for an ever more open culture, marked by ideas from right across Europe and beyond.
The rules of the market, in particular the promotion of competition, shouldn’t be the dominant rules for interpreting the effectiveness of public cultural policy. If public funding has enabled Europe to produce almost 1,200 films per year, today it must be used to boost and support the circulation of these films all over Europe. First and foremost in movie theatres of course, but also on digital platforms and television channels.
Europe should be able to pride itself on now finding the financial resources for the ambitious projects of its most prestigious filmmakers; it should be seen as a lucky chance and opportunity, not a constraint. In the past, certain geographical and ideological borders have left too many scars. The strength of cinema is to transcend the easy fallback positions advocated by some as a way of defending their cultural identity.
Developing a sustainable European cultural model which can gradually exert an influence beyond the Union, will be the best binding element between European populations.
The art of living, and living with the arts, must form the two pillars of a reforged European pact.
Jean-Paul Salomé is president of the ARP (Civil Society of Writers-Directors-Producers).